Surf’s up! Surfing is a surface water sport that was originated by the oceanic culture of Polynesia and was observed and documented by Captain Cook (the famous European explorer) in 1778. The first official surfing contest took place at Corona Del Mar, California in 1928.
Surfing involves a surfer who stands on a surfboard — which is a long, sturdy yet relatively lightweight board — and balances while traveling on the face of a wave. There are two different types of surfing: short boarding and long boarding, and each requires it’s own type of gear. Some people involved in the sport also include stand up paddle boarding as a form of surfing. Each type of surfing as well as the climate requires different surf clothing.
Surfers have a very diverse and eclectic niche culture which circulates around riding waves. Some surfers simply surf as a recreational activity, while others make it the focus of their lives and eventually make a career out of it. Professional surfing is a small sport, yet very competitive.
The surfing culture is mostly prevalent in Hawaii and California, though can be found elsewhere around the world, such as Australia and even in some parts of Europe and wherever there is a coastline.
Surfing Clothing: The most popular type of surfing clothing are the famous boardshorts — the long swim shorts worn while surfing. In colder climates, such as on the Atlantic coats, wetsuits are worn. Surf clothing can normally be found at most outdoor clothing stores, but it is not your typical outdoor clothing. A surfer wouldn’t be very comfortable wearing a heavy wool camping shirt while out riding the waves. Instead, man-made materials are used to create warm, yet water resistant and stretchable clothes.
Surfing Today: The water sport currently represents a multi-billion dollar industry, whose revenue is mostly generated from surf clothing. At the world surfing tour, hosted by the Association of Surfing Professionals, only the best of the best compete and are sponsored by various surfing-focused clothing companies.
Equipment: Although the sport seems very minimalistic in terms of gear, there are a lot of variations in equipment depending on what type of surfing you choose. Some universal equipment include surfboards (made of fiberglass foam, polyester resin, wood, and fiberglass cloth), a leash, surf wax, traction pads, fins, and appropriate clothing.
Although there are many dangers and risks associated with the sport, the culture and athleticism it generates is why people flock to the waves.