Surfboards in a row
© plainpicture/Tony Arruz
Hanging ten. Surfing through history
As the UK summer draws to a close, things are starting to heat up in Australia, which seems as good an excuse as any to highlight the humble surfboard and this quintessentially Australian sport. However, as much as Australians adore catching waves, surfing’s roots originally lie in pre-modern Hawaii and Polynesia. It is here that the sport was practised by both men and women within all social classes, including royalty and commoners.By the early 20th Century, the increasingly popular sport had found its way to Australia, thanks largely to Hawaiian Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. Considered by many to be the father of modern surfing, it is Kahanamoku who gave the first demonstration of surfboard riding on Christmas Eve, 1914, at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach - all with a heavy, finless board he’d crafted himself. Described at the time as ‘the human motor boat from Honolulu’, the legend was so influential his visit led to the creation of ‘Duke’s Day’ - a two-day festival celebrated by the Freshwater Surfing Community.