Surf’s Up: Freedom in the Water

Riding Free

Water sports are always sure to bring fun and enjoyment for all. But if there’s one watercraft that can allow for the greatest of freedom, it’s the surfboard.

Speeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

peeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

Like many sports, surfing can be practiced at virtually any age, but in order to excel, the water demands relentless discipline and athleticism. And it’s not without its share of danger. Ask any surfer, and they will say the risk is well worth the reward. This is a code shared among thrillseekers. Central to success is the surfboard itself, and it has quite a tale to tell. 

Surfboard Story

The surfboard is as an open vessel used for play and for sport on the ocean’s ever-changing current. But the roots of the craft have origins dating all the way back to Peruvian ancients, circa 3,000 BC. These early surf crafts were unearthed by archaeological digs in South America, proving that the prototypical surfboards were employed primarily as transportation modes across bodies of water. Civilizations past made use of the native totora reed (or Californian Bullrush) as the raw materials for their inventive floating devices. Imagine the thrill of that first successful float, heralding the expanse of possibilities for travel and trade. In early use, fishermen were likely to have laid prone atop the vessel. At other times, they are thought to have floated in a kneeling position while making use of a long stick of bamboo as a paddling device through the waters.

Around 300 AD, Polynesian settlers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, and in tow came their rich he’e nalu culture. At this time, surfboards were quite large by today’s standards. They were essentially fashioned into solid, flat wood planks. Frequently used for fun, these early crafts also played a role in ceremony, training for rulers, and as a means to resolve disputes.

Over the next sixteen hundred years, the surfboard’s evolution reached profound advancements. In the early 20th century, surfing gained mass popularity following the annex of Hawaii by the U.S. government. This fostered an unprecedented growth in surfing culture, and it wouldn’t end there.

Tom Blake introduced the first hollow surfboard, rocking the scene in 1929. This design became the first mass-produced surfboard, and it was picked up by numerous companies. The development of plastics following WWII also changed the game on the open water. A streamlined, big-wave model was introduced to the market in 1950 by George Downing.

The year 1970 saw the advent of Lightning Bolt, whose refined surfboard included none other than a lightning bolt image on deck. This proved to be a stellar business move for the company, as everybody wants to surf in style. In the 90’s, the longboard experienced life anew as lighter, three-finned surfboards became available. 

Shortly after the world entered the 21st century, surfing manufacturers got “on board” with the growing green movement. Using revolutionized bio-friendly materials, these surfboards proved to be a hit among environmentally-savvy surfers. With their playground located within the majesty of the ocean, it’s only natural that surfers embrace this trend.

Daring to Dream

The surfboard’s evolution has allowed for greater and greater advancements in the sport. From humble beginnings as a simple raft to a vehicle for demonstrating incredible athleticism, one thing remains constant: rider, board, and ocean must merge into one. Surfing invites not only an appreciation and awe for the ocean, but for the technological beauty of the surfboard itself.