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Introduction to Surfing

Jackson Crane, an American serving under explorer Captain Cook, was the first American to witness surfing, in Hawaii in the late 1700s. Surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture, where the chief was the most skilled wave rider in the community with the best board made from the best tree. The ruling class controlled the best beaches and had the best boards, and the commoners could gain prestige by their ability to surf on their extremely heavy boards.

Modern surfing was re-born in Hawaii in the early 1900s, and surfing began to emerge into the mainstream in the 1960s and remains a fast-growing, though niche sport.

If you're interested in trying surfing, one of the first things to consider is how strong a swimmer you are and how far you can swim. It's recommended that you never be out farther than you can swim back safely without your surfboard. The ocean is a powerful, unpredictable force, so make sure you feel physically fit, strong and confident before heading out. That said, surfing is a fun sport, widely enjoyed by people of all ages, shapes and sizes.

Before heading out to surf, make sure to wax your board. The wax will help you stay on the board. Make sure to attach your leash to your ankle, so the board doesn't get away from you if (when!) you fall off it. If you're a beginner, you may want to take a lesson. There's no substitute for having someone demonstrate proper form and tell you what you're doing wrong.

One of the first skills to work on is 'popping up' and you don't even have to be in the water to do it. It's like doing a push up, jumping up and sweeping your feet under your body. Practice standing up while making as little noise as possible. Your feet should end up along the center line of the board.

A good way for beginners to learn to catch waves is by playing in the whitewater, after the wave has already broken, but still has enough force to move the board. Typically, you can walk out from the beach and start riding the whitewater, without having to battle the waves on your way out past the break. Point your board toward the beach, and when the whitewater is about 2 feet behind, take a few quick paddle strokes. Practice riding the whitewater in, and when you're comfortable, popping up and riding it in.


Surfing is a fun, adrenaline-pumping, water sport. Just being out in the ocean is a thrill, and surfing is a great challenge. Surfing is also a demanding aerobic activity, involving swimming and an incredible amount of coordination and balance. Surfing regularly can help improve your coordination, balance and stamina. Enjoy the ride...