Valentina Monnerat, Switzerland; Chloe Persoglio, France
We all know this beautiful sport named surf but do we really know it’s origins ?
Everything started when humans began to swim in the ocean. At first they didn’t have the surfboard so they were using their body, so the body surfing was the oldest way to surf.
Using surfboards is pretty recent and it’s the Polynesians who started to use them. He’e ‘ana, the art of surfing in Hawaiian, was discovered by Joseph Banks in Tahiti. At the beginning for the Hawaiians surfing was considered as an art and not as a sport: he’e nalu, wave sliding. When the ocean was violent, Hawaiian people would do a surfing prayer asking the gods to have a great surf session. For the Hawaiian, constructing a surfboard was like a spiritual ceremony. They used three types of trees to create surfboards: Koa (Acacia Koa), ‘Ulu (Artocarpus altilis), and Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis).
When the Western World arrived in Hawaii, the Hawaiian culture was forced to change. Surfing and traditional culture have been suppressed. Later in time, Waikiki became a really touristic destination and surfing began to gain popularity and started to be considered as a sport. Surfing was only for men at that time, women could start surfing only in 1926. After that surfing became really popular in America.
Surf description by The Beach Boys in their first album: “For those not familiar with the latest craze to invade the sun-drenched Pacific coast of Southern California, here is a definition of “surfing” – a water sport in which the participant stands on a floating slab of wood, resembling an ironing board in both size and shape, and attempts to remain perpendicular while being hurtled toward the shore at a rather frightening rate of speed on the crest of a huge wave (especially recommended for teen-agers and all others without the slightest regard for either life or limb).”