When was surfing first done?

Surfing is the sport of riding ocean waves on a long, narrow surfboard. The sport is enjoyed at beaches all over the world and has become so popular that we tend to think of it as a new thing.

But surfing is actually quite old. It apparently originated in the Pacific is­lands hundreds of years ago. When Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii in 1788, surfing was already a very popular sport among the Hawaiians.

The Hawaiians held surfing contests and the winners who won prizes were acclaimed by the people. The Islanders used boards 4 to 5 meters long which were about 68 kilograms in weight.

About 1957 a big change took place in surfing that helped make it popular. Lightweight boards began to be used. These boards, which are about 3 meters long and weigh as little as 10 kilograms, make it possible for women and even children to take up surfing. The new boards are generally made of foam plastic, coated with fiberglass and resin. A surfboard is the only special equip­ment the sport requires.

When riding a wave, surfers stand on the board and maneuver right and left. The surfer must first take his board out past the surf line—the point where the waves begin to break. Kneeling or lying prone on his board, he waits for a set, or series of swells, to form. When the wave he wants to ride comes up behind him, he paddles quickly toward shore with his hands. As the wave moves beneath him, the board first rises with it, then slides down the unbroken front of the wave. Having "caught" the wave, the surfer stands, one-foot for­ward, and steers away from the breaking part of the wave.