If you’ve recently been invited to a Hawaiian or beach themed party then a bit of background may come in handy to get you into the vibe…
Was Captain James Cook or first recorded surfer?
Historically, our observation of surfing was documented in the ship’s log of HMS Endeavour in 1771, during the first voyage of James Cook and observed during the ship’s layover in Tahiti. Surfing was observed to be a central part of Polynesian culture. The tribal chief was traditionally the most accomplished and skilled wave rider in his community. He had the best board honed from the highest quality wood. In this hierarchy, the ruling class exclusively occupied the best beaches and commoners had to surf elsewhere unless they could gain enough prestige through their abilities to the ride the surf on these beaches.
Rather than considering surfing as the recreational pastime as it is today, the Ancient Hawaiian people made surfing into an art form and integrated it into their culture. Referring to this art as heʻe nalu which translates into English as wave sliding, they would pray to the Gods for protection and strength before undertaking the mystical and mighty powerful ocean. If the ocean was tamed they would call upon the Kahuna or priest who would perform a surfing prayer asking the gods to deliver great surf. This priest would also aid surfers by means of a spiritual ceremony, to construct their surfboards.
Careful selecting one of three types of trees including the Acacia Koa, Ulu or the Wiliwili trees, the surfer would start to dig out a hole and place a fish inside as an offering to the Gods. Selected craftsmen were then hired to carve, shape and stain the board for the surfer. The boards would come in three primary shapes: the ‘Olo, Kiko and the Alaia. The ʻOlo being thicker in the middle gradually getting thinner towards the edges.
The Kiko ranges in length from 12ft to 18 ft and requires enormous skill to maneuver. Whilst the Alaia board is around 9 ft long and also requires great skill to ride and master.
The most skilled surfers were often of the upper class and pastors, these included chiefs and warriors who surfed amongst the best waves on Hawaii’s islands. These upper-class Hawaiians gained respect through their enduring ability to master the huge waves.
Although these days, surfing is associated with warm ocean beaches of the U.S. in California, Hawaii, and Australia, surfers don’t only limit themselves to warmer locations. They’ve been known to dust a foot of snow off their surfboards to chase waves off the coast of Antarctica! They even trek through jungles to the remote beaches in Southeast Asia. Sharing the ocean with great white sharks in South Africa and even riding the “silver dragon,” the giant tidal bore of China’s Qiantang River. So, in conclusion, they can be quite a hardcore bunch!
The concept of surfing is quite simple in all locations, the process is – a breaking wave – a board and a very brave rider are all that’s needed in order to have a blast on the ocean.
A few drinks on the beach afterward is always a must with any excuse for a beach party…
Looking out on any coastal beach and you’ll see a bunch of surfing dudes waiting for the big one to drop. Here, surfers sit on their boards and watch the sea, assessing several different qualities in every wave. Seeing a wave they can ride, they paddle frantically to catch it rising. In a split second and just as the wave breaks, the surfers flip from their bellies to their feet with a low crouch on their boards. Standing up is the mark of an experienced surfer, riding the wave as it breaks toward the shore. As the wave loses momentum, surfers exit the wave, turning their boards back towards open water by simply lowering themselves back to their boards and paddling back out to catch the next wave.
As well as environmental awareness, surfers must be mindful of their strength and in most cases their image…
Grass skirts and garlands for the girls and a beach-bum look for the guys!
Grab some beach attire and….Lets party!