A Brief History of Surfing

From ancient Polynesians to the super-pros of today

It may not look like anything to do with surfing, but this is one of the first mills producing synthetic rubber, which would later be used to make the first ever wetsuit.

The roaring 20s was brought to a sudden, jolting halt in the 30s by the rise of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire, who started a little thing called World War Two which put an end to fun times at the beach. But while the Nazis did a lot of bad for surfing by building sand-blocking sea walls across Europe, the war actually advanced surfing in ways which at the time no-one could have foreseen.

“The Second World War actually advanced surfing in ways which at the time no-one could have foreseen.”

First of all foam and fibre glass construction techniques developed at great speed during the war. Although a known material pre war, it was its application in military aviation which made it a commercially viable product. This advancement would form the basis of the shaping industry down the line.

The war years also gave rise to neoprene. It was already being developed before things kicked off but the war effort and increased the resources being poured into R&D and this rubber-like material became the basis for future wetsuits. It was this key advancement that allowed surfing to take a foothold in places like the UK.

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