Modern Surf History
The evolution of modern surfing can be traced through advances in board design and its growing place in popular culture. It finally became a professional sport in 1975.
Old school Hawaiian boards were carved out of solid wood, and the 20-footers weighed up to 200 pounds.
1920s: Tom Blake introduced the fin to stabilise the board. He tried to make boards lighter by drilling holes in them, and later developing a hollow board.
1950s: Bob Simmons experimented with different materials to make the board lighter and faster. He settled on a polystyrene core and a mahogany veneer, sealed with fiberglass and resin. A game-changing move in the surfing world.
1960s: The golden age of surfing. By the end of the decade, surfers were shredding on 5-foot boards. Bring on the ‘shortboard revolution’.
Surf culture began to pop up all over the place in music, TV and film. Special mention goes to the music of The Beach Boys and Surfaris, and the 1959 film Gidget, based on the life of surfer chick Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman.
1970s: Growth of the professional surfing world. Twin fin boards emerged.
1980s: ‘Hotdogging’ era, crazy surfers doing crazy stunts. Wave pools started popping up in landlocked areas, promising the perfect wave and threatening the natural purity of surfing.
1990s: Era of epic professional surfing, world tours, celebrity surf icons like Kelly Slater. Being towed to catch waves became popular, again worrying surf purists.