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Surfers of Change

By November 21, 2020January 31st, 2021Surfing Timeline

pre 1910

Legend Pele, Hawaiian goddess of fire, learns to surf and teaches her sister Hi’iaka

  • Europeans reached the present state of Baja California and explored the peninsula’s west coast

  • During his first ‘voyage of discovery’ Captain James Cook sailed to Tahiti and saw the locals out surfing

  • In Hawaii Kamehameha the Great overturns the legendary Naha Stone

  • Captain James Cook arrived back in Tahiti in 1777 on his ship Resolution

  • Botanist Joseph Banks, documents wave riding in his diaries – it’s the earliest known written description of surfing

  • Captain James Cook’s fleet spot O’ahu, the first of several Hawaiian Islands that would be discovered

  • Captain Cook observes Hawaiians wave riding on hard wooden boards

  • Captain Cook, and four of his crew, were clubbed to death by a group of local Hawaiians

  • When the journals of Captain Cook were published in 1784 they were popular in Europe and the UK

  • King Kamehameha consolidates the Hawaiian Island’s warring, feudal-like chiefdoms into a single monarchy

  • Surfing Queen Ka’ahumanu breaks kapu system ending surfing’s ritual importance

  • Hiram Bingham leads first Calvinist missionaries to Sandwich Islands

  • One of the most prolific ‘surf’ writers in the early 1800s was the Reverend William Ellis in Hawaii

  • Captain James Alexander sees West African natives riding waves

  • Mark Twain describes his Waikiki surfing adventure for Ladies’ Home Journal

  • Three royal Hawaiian brothers introduce “surfboard swimming” to Santa Cruz, CA

  • Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, is born in Honolulu

  • Two Hawaiian princes – and their English guardian – went surfing in Britain. The earliest record of UK surfing

  • Bodysurfing gains popularity with schoolboys at Manly Beach, Sydney

  • Surfing princess Ka’iulani rides her alaia in the ocean at Brighton, England

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Hawaii Lava Rock Petroglyph Spirits Island

Petroglyph

Captain James Cook voyage engraving by the artist John Webber

1700s Priests traveling across Kealakekua Bay for first contact rituals

I could not help concluding this man had the most supreme pleasure while he was driven so fast and so smoothly by the sea.

~ Captain James Cook

1900

  • Tom Blake was born. Blake would become one of the most influential surfers of the twentieth- century

  • Hawaii’s George Freeth reintroduces the “angled” ride across the wave face

  • Visiting Waikiki, American writer Jack London describes his surfing experience

  • Honolulu Star labels George Freeth, “The most expert surfboard rider in the world”

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Hawaiian Surfer 1890

Jack and Charmian London at Waikiki

‘Father of Modern Surfing’ Huntington Beach George Freeth

First Lifeguard George Freeth

1910
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
1.6 Billion

US POPULATION:
76 Million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$1,000/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 5 cents

Out of water, I am nothing

~ Duke Kahanamoku

1910

  • Duke Kahanamoku introduces surfing to New York and New Jersey

  • Duke Kahanamoku breaks world swim records at the Olympic Games in Stockholm

  • Surfing is introduced to Virginia Beach by James Jordon

  • In Redondo Beach, George Freeth is photographed doing a “spinner”

  • Duke Kahanamoku popularizes surfing in New Zealand and Australia

  • Teen Isabel Letham of Sydney tandems with Duke to become Oz’s first female surfer

  • In Waikiki, Duke Kahanamoku rides a 10′ 7″ alaia on a giant wave for over a half-mile

  • George Freeth, 35, dies in San Diego, during the worldwide influenza pandemic

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Hawaiian kids

Local Beach boys at Waikiki

James M. Jordan

Isabel Letham

1920
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
1.86 billion

US POPULATION:
106 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$1,236/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 9 cents
Gasoline: 22 cents per gallon

There are a million ways to surf, and as long as you’re smiling you're doing it right.

~ Unknown

1920

  • King Edward VIII, then the Prince of Wales, joined Duke Kahanamoku on an outrigger canoe ride at Waikiki

  • Wisconsonite Tom Blake meets Olympian Duke Kahanamoku in a Detroit movie theater

  • A Galveston hurricane forces 7-year-old Pete Peterson to move to California with his family

  • Albert “Rabbit” Kekai was born in Honolulu, Hawaii He was a master of the sport in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s

  • Tom Blake first surfs in Santa Monica, CA

  • At 9 years old, Pete Peterson is one of the first dozen surfboard riders on the Pacific Coast

  • English mystery writer Agatha Christie is introduced to prone surfboard riding during a stop in Durban, South Africa

  • Tony Bowman, a WWI pilot, returned from England to South Africa.  He became one of SA’s first full-time surfers

  • Agatha and her husband quickly took to riding surfboards standing up at Waikiki later in the year

  • Back from his tour of Polynesia, Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII) was an enthusiastic fan of surfing

  • Tom Blake visits Hawaii for the first time and surfs Waikiki with the Kahanamokus

  • Duke Kahanamoku rescues eight people from capsized boat off Newport Beach, CA

  • Joe Quigg was born (1925) in Los Angeles, and began surfing at age four, riding on a small belly board

  • Six-year-old Wally Froiseth and his family move to Oahu.  Later, he begins surfing at Waikiki on a redwood surfboard

  • Tom Blake and Sam Reid become the first surfers to ride Malibu

  • Former British Prime Minister William Gladstone goes surfing with friends on a beach in North Devon

  • Peter Burness, The “Father of South African Surfing,” is born

  • Charles “Snow” McAlister headstands his way to the Australian surfing title

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Albert ‘Rabbit’ Kekai

Hui Nalu Club – Duke Kahanamoku – (center)

Tom Blake

The Kahanamoku Brothers

1930
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
2.1 billion

US POPULATION:
123 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$1,368/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 8 cents
Gasoline: 10 cents per gallon
Movie admission: 15 cents

If in doubt, paddle out.

~ Nat Young

1930

  • California’s Gard Chapin invents the drop knee turn

  • Bill and Dudley Whitman bring surfing to Florida after learning to surf in Hawaii

  • “Coast haole” Pete Peterson and Whitey Harrison travel to Hawaii for the first time

  • Lifeguard LeRoy Columbo rides the small, mud-brown waves of Galveston, Texas

  • Woody Brown moves from NYC to La Jolla, then visits Hawaii in for the Hot Curl revolution

  • John “Doc” Ball, a surfing dentist, founds the Palos Verdes Surf Club

  • Parowax, used for canning food, is first used for traction on surfboards

  • Woody Brown is first to ride Windansea, San Diego, CA

  • Huntington Beach long time standout surfer Chuck Lennon born

  • John Kelly and Wally Froiseth are the first modern surfers to ride Makaha

  • Waikiki surfers begin to venture out to the North Shore of Oahu to ride bigger waves

  • Gates Foss becomes the first to surf the point at Rincon near Santa Barbara

  • Mary Ann Hawkins wins the Pacific Coast Women’s Surfboard Championships (’38-’40)

  • Despite a crippled arm, 20-year-old Bob Simmons rides a surfboard in Newport Beach

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Pete Peterson and Whitey Harrison

Woody Brown

Mary Ann Hawkins

Russ Takaki, Wally Froiseth and George Downing

1940
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
2.3 billion

US POPULATION:
132 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$1,299/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 13 cents
Gasoline: 11 cents per gallon
Movie admission: 35 cents

The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.

~ Phil Edwards

1940

  • Gene “Tarzan” Smith paddles 90 miles from Oahu to Kauai; a 30-hour journey

  • Cliff Tucker wins the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championship

  • Dick Brewer buys his first custom board – a 9′ x 20″ balsa that weighed 26 pounds

  • Dickie Cross, a teenage surfer from Honolulu, dies in huge surf at Waimea Bay

  • 16-year-old Dale Velzy enlists in the Merchant Marines and sees the world – including Hawaii

  • The lead role of Fred Crocker in design of wave riding craft helped establish a community of surfers in Durban

  • Albert “Rabbit” Kekai of Honolulu is the fastest trick surfer alive

  • Teenager Matt Kivlin regarded as the hottest surfer in California

  • Nick Gabaldon of Santa Monica becomes the first African-American surfer

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Gene ‘Tarzan’ Smith

Gerry Lopez, Dick Brewer and Ren Abellira in Honolulu

Matt Kevlin and Tommy Zahn

Nick Gabaldon

1950
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
2.5 billion

US POPULATION:
152 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$5,019/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 16 cents
Gasoline: 29 cents per gallon
Movie admission: 55 cents

Just Take your time - wave comes. Let the other guys go, catch another one.

~ Duke Kahanamoku

1950

  • Malibu newcomer Vicki Flaxman becomes the hottest female surfer on the coast

  • 21-year-old George Downing is regarded as Hawaii’s best big-wave rider

  • An AP photo of surfers at Makaha set off a Hawaii-bound migration of Mainlanders

  • George Downing wins the Makaha International contest

  • Bob Simmons drowns while surfing Windansea, La Jolla

  • Ethel Kukea is the first woman to win the Makaha International

  • Shaun Tomson was born on 8/21/1955 in South Africa.  Shaun would go on to win the world title in 1977

  • At Malibu, lightning-fast Dewey Weber becomes the first famous “hot-dogger”

  • An American lifeguard team introduces Australia to the “Malibu style” of riding

  • Conrad Canha wins the Makaha International

  • Kathy Kohner, the real Gidget, learns to surf at Malibu

  • Greg Noll, Mike Stang, Pat Curren, Mickey Munoz et. al. surf Waimea Bay for the first time

  • The charismatic Mickey Dora becomes the most-imitated surfer at Malibu

  • Hawaiian Paul Strauch is credited with the “Strauch Crouch Cheater Five”

  • Buzzy Trent and George Downing ride perfect 25-foot waves at Makaha

  • Linda Benson, 15, wins Makaha International

  • John Whitmore spots waves breaking at Jeffereys Bay, South Africa

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Vicki Flaxman

Ethel Kukea

Shaun Tomson

Conrad Canha, center Makaha

1960
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
3 billion

US POPULATION:
177 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$8,346/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 25 cents
Gasoline: 32 cents per gallon
Movie admission: 75 cents

Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.

~ Buzzy Trent

1960

  • George Downing wins the Makaha International contest

  • Surfer magazine publisher John Severson wins the prestigious Peruvian International Surfing Championships

  • Hoppy Swarts named the first president of United States Surfing Association (USSA)

  • Phil Edwards rides a new North Shore spot as Bruce Brown films.  Diffenderfer calls it “Pipeline”

  • Midget Farrelly wins his first Makaha International Surfing Championships

  • California’s Phil Edwards wins Surfer magazine’s debut Surfer Poll Award

  • Butch Van Artsdalen of La Jolla becomes the original “Mister Pipeline”

  • Dewey Weber, wearing only a T-shirt and blue jeans, walks into a Porsche dealer and pays cash, for the coupe

  • At Manly Beach, Australia’s Midget Farrelly wins the first World Surfing Championships

  • Felipe Pomar of Peru beats Nat Young to win the World Championships, held in Lima

  • David Nuuhiwa named by Surfer Magazine as the world’s best nose rider

  • California’s Joyce Hoffman wins the first of her two world championships

  • Corky Carroll wins the United States Surfing Championships

  • Nat Young uses high-performance “Total Involvement” surfing to win the World Title

  • Simon Anderson gets his first surfboard, after his dad wins Lottery and moves family to the beach

  • Australian John Witzig trumpets “We’re Tops Now” in Surfer Magazine and starts a rivalry

  • Miki Dora moons the judges while riding a wave at the Malibu Invitational

  • The Australian National Titles are won by Keith Paul and Judy Trim.  Wayne Lynch wins the Junior’s Title

  • Duke Kahanamoku passes away at age 77.  He is returned to the sea in a huge Waikiki beach boy–style funeral

  • Margo Oberg and Fred Hemmings win the World Championships, held in Puerto Rico

  • Greg Noll is the last man standing on a giant day at Makaha, and wipes out on a 30-foot wave

  • Jock Sutherland announces he’s joining the US Army and leaves the Mr. Pipeline title up for grabs

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Hoppy Swarts

Marge, Candy and Robin Calhoun

Corky Carroll

Greg Noll at Pipeline

1970
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
3.7 billion

US POPULATION:
203 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$7,564/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 25 cents
Gasoline: 59 cents per gallon
Movie admission: $1.50

Its not tragic to die doing something you love.

~ Mark Foo (On Big Wave Surfing)

1970

  • In Australia, Rolf Aurness and Sharron Weber win the World Surfing titles

  • The inaugural Pipeline Masters contest is held in Hawaii; Jeff Hakman wins

  • Mike Tabeling becomes the first East Coaster to make the cover of Surfer magazine

  • Michael Peterson wins Australian National Titles

  • Future surf star Kelly Slater is born in Cocoa Beach, FLA. He will be crowned World Champion

  • Yancy Spencer, the “godfather of Gulf Coast surfing,” wins the East Coast Pro

  • The Australian point break, Kirra, turns on for six consecutive weeks at a flawless 5′ to 8′

  • Former WC Fred Hemmings establishes the Smirnoff in Hawaii as the defacto World Surfing Championships

  • Hawaii’s Larry Bertlemann is the most radical small-wave surfer, Gerry Lopez rules Pipe

  • Florida’s Jeff Crawford wins Pipeline Masters. NY’s Ricky Rasmussen wins U.S. Title

  • La Jolla surfer Chris O’ Rourke is the top-ranked contest surfer in California at 16 years of age

  • Shaun Tomson’s “backside attack” defeats Rory Russell and Gerry Lopez at the Pipe Masters

  • Jericho Poppler and Mary Setterholm found Women’s International Surfing Association

  • Jeff Clark, 17, becomes the first to surf Mavericks near Half Moon Bay, CA

  • Herbie Fletcher jumps on a longboard and declares “The thrill is back!”

  • Surfing backside in difficult conditions, Shaun Tomson wins the Pipeline Masters – a performance breakthrough

  • Peter Townend becomes the first professional world surfing champion

  • Eddie Aikau wins the Duke Kahanamoku Classic, at Sunset Beach

  • Rell Sunn founds the Menehune surf contest at Makaha Beach

  • Margo Oberg becomes the first women’s professional world surfing champion

  • Hawaiian big-wave legend Eddie Aikau is lost at sea trying to save the crew of a Polynesian canoe

  • Mark Richards wins the first of four consecutive IPS/ASP World Tour Championships

  • Peru’s National team is defeated at Punta roca, in by NSSA National team in 12 sets coach by John Rothrock and Tom Gibbons

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Jeff Crawford at Pipeline

Jericho Poppler

Peter Townend

Margo Oberg

1980
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
4.4 billion

US POPULATION:
227 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$15,757/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: 85 cents
Gasoline: $1.25 per gallon
Movie admission: $2.60

I took off on a wave, went down the side, popped out the other end, and went, shit, i’m still alive!

~ Greg Noll

1980

  • Mark Richards buys a silver Porsche—the flashiest thing yet to hit pro surfing. (Remember Dewey Weber in 1964?)

  • At the Katin Pro-Am, 16-year-old Tom Curren finishes second to Shaun Tomson

  • Ketut Menda is the first Indonesian surfer to compete on the pro tour

  • Cheyne Horan wins the inaugural OP Pro in Huntington Beach, California

  • Debbie Beacham wins the Women’s Professional World Championship

  • Ken Bradshaw wins the Duke Kahanamoku Classic in Hawaii

  • Hawaiian Triple Crown championship series introduced by Randy Rarrick and won by Michael Ho

  • Alec “Ace Cool” Cooke announces his sponsored bid to ride the world’s largest wave at Kaena Point on Oahu

  • California’s Davey Smith fractures an ankle while perfecting “surfing’s new move” the aerial

  • Australian Tom Carroll wins two consecutive World Surfing Championships

  • Frieda Zamba wins her first of four women’s Professional World Titles

  • Shaun Tomson, 29, wins the Stubbies at Oceanside in California to take the ASP World Tour points lead

  • Lisa Andersen runs away from her home in Florida to California to become a female pro surfer

  • Clyde Aikau wins the first Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave contest at Waimea Bay

  • Lisa Andersen wins the world pro tour’s Rookie-of-the-Year Award

  • Wayne Bartholomew elected to the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame

  • Wearing a helmet, Tom Carroll wins Pipe 24 hours after learning of his sister’s death in a car crash

  • Darrick Doerner rides a 30 foot wave at Waimea Bay on Super Bowl Sunday

  • Matt Archbold earns reputation as one of the best aerialists

  • Hoppy Swarts, surfing pioneer dies

  • Mike Boyum discovers “Cloud 9”, a perfect right barrel in the Philippines

  • Australian surf pioneer Snowy McAllister dies

  • Aerial surfing begins to take off led by Martin Potter and Christian Fletcher

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Tom Curren

Debbie Beacham

Cheyne Horan

Robert Nat Young

1990
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
5.3 billion

US POPULATION:
249 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$28,970/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: $1.57
Gasoline: $1.34 per gallon
Movie admission: $4.59

We’re all equal before a wave.

~ Laird Hamilton

1990

  • Keone Downing wins the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave contest at Waimea Bay

  • Pam Burridge wins the ASP (now WSL) women’s world championship

  • Tom Curren wins 7 of 21 events to win his third ASP World Title, then retires

  • Australian Damien Hardman wins ASP World Title

  • Sunny Garcia wins his first of five prestigious Hawaiian Triple Crown Titles (1992-2004)

  • Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, and Darrick Doerner experiment with boats to catch giant waves

  • Derek Ho, USA and ASP world champion in action in the quarterfinals

  • Surfing legend Dewey Weber dies of heart failure

  • Pauline Menczer wins the ASP Womens World Surfing Championship

  • Five weeks after giving birth, Lisa Andersen wins 3 of 11 events and her first World Title

  • Hawaiian big-wave surfer Mark Foo drowns at Mavericks in central California on December 23

  • Sunny Garcia of Hawaii wins his third Triple Crown title in three years

  • Kelly Slater comes from third in the ratings to win the Pipe Masters and the ASP World Title

  • Lisa Andersen designs a functional but fashionable women’s boardshort for Roxy

  • Todd Chesser drowns after getting caught inside at Outside Alligators on the North Shore

  • Layne Beachley wins the first of her seven World Titles (98, 99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03 and ’06)

  • Rochelle Ballard co-founds International Women Surfers (IWS)

  • After losing 80 pounds, Mark ‘Occy’ Occhiluppo wins ASP World Surfing Title

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Sunny Garcia

Derek Ho

Lisa Andersen

Layne Beachley

2000
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
6.7 billion

US POPULATION:
305 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$40,343/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: $1.72
Gasoline: $1.52 per gallon
Movie admission: $6.50

I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.

~ Kelly Slater

2000

  • Hawaii’s Sunny Garcia wins the ASP men’s World Surfing Championship

  • Laird Hamilton tows into the “Milennium Wave” at Teahupoo, and starts a mega-wave rush

  • Ross Clarke-Jones wins Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave contest at Waimea Bay

  • Mick Fanning wins the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia as a wild card entry

  • Former ISA world champ, Janice Aragon is inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame

  • Brad Gerlach is one of the first surfers to ride Cortes Bank, big wave surf spot 100 miles off the coast of San Diego

  • Taj Burrow becomes one of Australia’s top paid athletes known for his lightning fast style

  • Megan Abubo poses nude for Rolling Stone’s Sports Hall of Fame then stunt-doubles for Blue Crush (97)

  • C.J. Hobgood wins a World Title riding a Rusty – who sells 14,000 surfboards that year and has $40 million in sales

  • Brazilian Carlos Burle rides a gigantic, 68-foot wave at Maverick’s

  • Miki Dora dies of pancreatic cancer at 66. Obituaries appear as far as Detroit and Hartford CT

  • Wayne Deane is inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame

  • Shark attack victim Beth Hamilton successfully rides 30 foot plus Jaws on Maui

  • Garret McNamara rides waves from a calving glacier on Alaska’s Copper River

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Laird Hamilton

Mick Fanning

Janice Aragon

Bethany Hamilton

2010
THE YEAR IN NUMBERS

WORLD POPULATION:
6.9 billion

US POPULATION:
309 million

AVERAGE U.S. SALARY:
$42,523/year

U.S. PRICES:
Loaf of bread: $2.49
Gasoline: $2.73 per gallon
Movie admission: $6.50

My Passion for surfing was more than my fear of sharks.

~ Bethany Hamilton

2010

  • Pioneer surfer and legendary surf photographer, Leroy Grannis, passes away in his home in Hermosa Beach, CA

  • Sion Milosky, an accomplished big-wave surfer, died at Mavericks after enduring a two-wave hold down

  • Garrett McNamara rides a 90-foot wave, shattering the previous record of 77′, off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal

  • Kelly Slater, 40, at The Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak, got 2 of the 5 perfect 10s in the event and 2 of the top 5 heat scores

  • Hobie Alter celebrates his 80th birthday on Halloween with a big party at the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center

  • East Coast legend, Cecil Lear, given lifetime achievement award for his founding work with the ESA

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Sion Milosky

Garrett McNamara

Kelly Slater – Fiji Pro

Cecil Lear Lifetime Achievement Award