A Brief History of Surfing

From ancient Polynesians to the super-pros of today

The Duke. So important he made it onto a postage stamp.

If George Freeth started the global surfing revolution, then it was Hawaiian Olympian Duke Kahanamoku who took it to the world and kick-started the lifestyle that we all know and love. A world class swimmer (he won medals at the Olympics in 1912, 1920 and 1924), he travelled to events giving demonstrations of his swimming prowess.

“Like Jesus’ disciples the people who saw him surf went on to spread the word throughout the globe.”

He also carried a surfboard wherever he went and slowly but surely introduced the new sport to the world. It spread from west to east coast of the USA and in 1915, he turned up at Freshwater beach in Northern Sydney. Australia’s national sport was born.

So important is the Duke to surfing that many people refer to him as “the grandfather of the modern era”. Like Jesus’ disciples the people who saw him surf went on to spread the word throughout the globe. He helped establish the cultural hotbeds of the sport, California, Hawaii and Australia, as well as bringing it to the fringes of the surfing world. By the 1920s it was in Great Britain for example. They didn’t teach you that in school, did they?

This shot apparently shows surfers in Cornwall in 1922.



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