The history of surfing is rich and far-reaching. There are lots of facts and figures that surround the culture and sport of surfing, particularly from the mid-twentieth century when surfing witnessed a resurgence of interest.
Here are some epic facts about surfing:
- Surfing has more than twenty million participants worldwide, supporting a growing 10 billion dollar global industry.
- Early colonial powers in Hawaii almost decimated surfing in the nineteenth century. With the growth of sugar plantations, Hawaiians lost leisure time to surf due to work on the land. Missionaries to Hawaii also discouraged surfing as a pastime and with the devastating demographic collapse from diseases introduced by settlers, surfing was almost lost for a century.
- During the 1960s, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group of California surfers at Laguna, started a huge drug-smuggling operation, hoping to start a psychedelic revolution in America. Their global network traded LSD along with other drugs.
- The longest ride recorded on a single wave was thirty-seven minutes on a pororoca, a tidal bore wave on the Amazon River.
- The record for the most surfboards stacked on a car was recorded in Santa Barbara, California. The car held 282 surfboards and drove over thirty meters.
- In March 2005, in Australia, forty-seven people rode on one surfboard measuring thirty-nine feet, the largest number on one board ever recorded. The giant surfboard carrying all the surfers was towed through the water and released.
- The annual International Surfing Day is celebrated on 20th June. The holiday celebrates the sport and the lifestyle of surfing as well as the ocean’s sustainability of resources.
- Surfing continues to be popular because, according to research, it embodies the antithesis of modern society, being the pursuit of pure pleasure and the ideal of perpetual youth.
- The United States has the largest number of shark attacks each year, followed by Australia and South Africa. American Surf Magazine reported that sixty-six percent of all surfers think about sharks while riding a wave.
- In 1907, Irish-Hawaiian George Freeth created a surfing buzz when showing his surfing skills in California to promote a new railroad beach route from L.A. to Redondo Beach.
- The Corte Bank, about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, California, is an underwater sea mount which during winter swells has waves that can reach sixty feet.
- Surfing is a dangerous sport. In 1997, former world champion Martin Potter had a cut so deep that his intestines fell out of his body when the nose of his board cut 6 inches into his stomach and snapped off. He was back on the water three months later.
- Facts show that big wave surfing is responsible for significantly increasing the number of people killed when surfing. More surfers were killed in the last fifteen years than in all the previous forty years.
- Kathy “Gidget” Kohner-Zuckerman surfed Malibu in the 1950’s. Due to her small size, local surfers called her “Gidget”, short for “girl midget.” Her father wrote a book about her surfing experiences, which was later turned into a movie of the same name and became a popular movie that encouraged more people to take up surfing.
- The only surfer to win the title of the Los Angeles Times “Person of the Year” was the pioneer of women surfers named Joyce Hoffman. Hoffman was the first female international surfing star and one of the first people inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame.
- The most deadly wave in the world is considered to be Oahu’s Pipeline, where the mix of powerful waves, jagged coral reef with deep crevices and spikes have impaled surfers. Notable people who have died there are professional surfers Malik Joyeux from Tahiti and Japanese pro surfer Moto Watanabe.
- Over fifteen years, Donald Dettloff has collected and now owns 647 surfboards, which he stores on his property in Hawaii. This is the largest single collection of surfboards recorded.
- The organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have added surfing to the list of new athletic events. The events will take place at Shida beach, forty kilometers from Tokyo.