Surfing is a thrilling and risky sport. For many, the allure of surfing lies in being at one with the ocean as one rides its waves. Its global fame has sparked a surge of interest from people who want to learn the skill so they can catch some waves themselves. If you’re among them, here are some exciting surfing facts to help you learn more about the sport.
9 Interesting Facts and Trivias About Surfing
Ever wondered when surfing first entered the record books? Or if animals can surf as well? Ponder no more! Here are ten facts about surfing that you’ll be shocked to learn:
Surfing Is One of the Oldest Sports in the World
The exact discovery of surfing is unknown to everyone. But in Polynesia, archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be artwork from the 12th century. The cave-wall art unmistakably shows ancient Polynesians riding the waves – supporting the idea that surfing is one of the world’s oldest sports.
Aside from these cave art, however, other documentation has also surfaced. The most well-known written surfing fact was from Captain James Cook’s diary in 1778. In his log, he writes that he and his crew saw Tahitian men surfing on a wooden plank. James Cook’s journal became a valuable artifact that gave people a wealth of information about sailing in the Pacific.
The Second World War Had a Significant Impact on the Surfing Culture and Industry
World War II had a significant effect on surfing’s popularity. While stationed in Hawaii, American troops tasted Polynesian culture, where surfing originated. There was a time when surfing was confined to the shores of the Americas, but it quickly crossed the Pacific and made its way to Europe. However, the spread of WWII affected more than just culture; it also affected the boards and methods of surfing.
Another interesting surfing fact is that new chemicals and materials developed during the war immediately impacted the industry. Materials such as glass, Styrofoam, and resin improved the surfboards. These materials reduced the surfboard’s weight, making the most challenging waves more manageable. Surprisingly, war’s terrible effects on surfing have turned out to be positive.
Dale “Hawk” Velzy Shaped the Original Commercial Surfboard
According to most accounts, Dale Velzy was the first professional surfboard maker. He served during World War II as a merchant marine but eventually went back to Manhattan Beach to establish the very first surfing shop – Velzy Surfboards. However, while he was the pioneer in surfboard making, the “Pig Surfboard” was Velzy’s most significant contribution to the industry. He made the surfboard more responsive by shifting the widest point to the tail.
We might know fewer facts about surfing than we do now if not for Velzy. His other contributions were funding a surfer, branding the first surfboard, and making the first surf company t-shirts. That’s some serious surfing dedication right there.
The Largest Wave Surfed Was Recorded at 86FT
Sebastian Steudtner has the 2020 Guinness World Record for surfing an 86-foot-high wave. He set the record in the waters off Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. His surfing experience became a viral sensation when Guinness uploaded the surfing video.
Steudtner is widely regarded as a top name in the surfing community. He already had a long list of victories, but now he can boast a Guinness World Records certificate. Now that’s an inspiring surfing fact!
The Longest Wave-Surfing Session Lasted for 3 Hours and 55 Minutes
A 13-time national surfing champion, Gary Saavedra, rode a wave for 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 2 seconds on the Panama Canal on March 19, 2011. This earned him a Guinness World Record. Saavedra went 66.47 km (41.3 mi) by following a boat that made waves. He also broke the record for the longest distance spent surfing a wave.
The Longest Surfing Marathon Went on for 29 Hours and 10 Minutes
You’ll appreciate surfing more after learning this astonishing fact. In 2014, Ben Shaw set a new Guinness World Record when he surfed nonstop at Kure Beach, California. His record was 29 hours and 10 minutes, beating the previous world record held by Kurtis Loftus, which was 29 hours and 1 minute.
Shaw began his journey at 6:30 in the morning on August 30 and stopped at 11:40 a.m. the following day. He rode more than 300 waves to achieve this feat. While making history, Shaw increased awareness for a nonprofit that offers free surf classes to children and adults with serious diseases – Ocean Cure.
Portugal Is Home to the World’s Largest Waves
If you’ve already discovered the best surfing beaches in Asia, you’ll want to head to Portugal for the following surfing fact. Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, is a unique natural phenomenon that has led to several Guinness World Records, such as the largest wave ever surfed and the largest wave surfed by a woman. The large waves result from several factors, including wave convergence and a nearby water channel. Its waves are also so powerful that it has been given the moniker “the surfboard-breaking machine.”
The Deadliest Wave Can Be Found in Oahu
The following information might be less than thrilling for surfers. However, the rush of adrenaline from this surfing fact is irresistible.
Oahu’s Pipeline, also known as the Banzai Pipeline, is commonly regarded as the world’s deadliest surf break. It wasn’t until the 20th century that surfers started attempting the Pipeline because of its speed and hollowness. Before, there was no way a surfboard measuring 10 feet would fit. Now that surfboards are shorter and more maneuverable, surfers now consider Oahu as one of the best destinations for tube surfing. Even so, it remains one of the deadliest waves to ride.
Dogs Can Compete in Surfing Competitions
Did you know dogs can surf too? What an interesting fact about surfing!
Each year in the summer, Northern California hosts the World Dog Surfing Championship. The competition isn’t just a sporting and entertainment extravaganza; it’s also benefiting a worthy cause. Part of the money from the event will be given to groups supporting surfing, dogs, and the environment.
In 2016, the creator of the book “The Dog’s Guide to Surfing” proposed the first-ever Surf Dog competition. The event’s success sparked parallel dog surfing competitions worldwide. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual championships had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021. The World Dog Surfing Championship returned to the oceans in 2022, where many canines and their owners rode the waves for victory and honor.
Start Your Wave-Riding Adventure With These Surfing Facts
It’s undeniable that surfing is a very intriguing sport. Unsurprisingly, many folks are keen to get their surf on and figure out how to ride the waves. However, these facts about surfing are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a wealth of information online but keep these facts in mind if you’re considering surfing as your new favorite sport!