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Historique du surf

photo historique surf

According to historians and anthropologists, various surfing practices existed across Polynesia and other Pacific locations before modern times. Surfing practiced standing up on long boards is attested in Tahiti (1767) and in Hawaii by the accounts of the first European explorers. But the practice of riding waves with a float was certainly invented independently in other places in the world, as isolated practices in Africa, Australia or Peru suggest. However, it is in Hawaii that surfing seems to have been particularly important in the culture of the populations. And it is from this place that surfing will be spread in the 20th century to the rest of the world, thus popularizing the myth that Hawaii is the “birthplace” of surfing. ​ Surfing has for a long time been an integral part of Hawaiian culture, as a social and cultural (religious) practice or as a pastime allowing in particular to prove one's physical qualities. The majority of surfers practiced on short boards called alaia, in a lying position or on their knees. The leaders distinguished themselves socially by the possession of very long olo boards, the construction of which was expensive and ritualized, and which could be used for standing surfing. The first accounts on this subject would be those of Samuel Wallis and the crew of the Dolphin, the first Europeans to set foot on Tahiti in 1767, or of Joseph Banks, a botanist aboard Cook's HMS Endeavor and who arrived on the same island in 1769. Lieutenant James King will mention it when completing Cook's memoirs after his death in 1779. In 1788, James Morrison, one of the Bounty mutineers, similarly describes the practice of hōrue in Tahiti . The oldest surfboard known to date was discovered in 1905 in Ko'Okena inside a tomb. Archaeologists believe it was the burial place of a “chiefess” named Kaneamuna, who reigned in the early 14th century. Made at the bottom of the breadfruit tree, this board was found in perfect condition. When Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866, he observed "a group of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, enjoying themselves in the national pastime of surfing." bathing » ​

In the early 1900s, Alexander Hume Ford (1868-1945) and Jack London publicized surfing as a leisure activity and a means of attracting tourists to Hawaii. Surfers gather around the Outrigger Canoe Club, a nautical club reserved for whites. Hawaiians George Freeth and Duke Kahanamoku founded a multiracial club, the Hui Nalu Club (1908), to bring together surfers from Waikiki Beach and maintain Hawaiian influence at surfing sites. From 1907, Freeth and especially Kahanamoku spread surfing outside Hawaii, giving demonstrations in the United States (California), Australia and New Zealand. Kahanamoku, Olympic swimming champion and Hollywood actor, took advantage of his notoriety to popularize surfing, thus becoming the “father of modern surfing”. The boards of the period were made of wood and inspired by old Hawaiian models: notably the very long olo board dedicated to stand-up surfing, while the short alaia board was gradually forgotten. At that time, boards were not only used for the leisure of surfing in waves. They are also used for rowing races and sea rescue, with numerous competitions (sport rescue) organized in the United States and then in Australia. ​ Spread by American surfers, the practice appeared in France at the end of the 1950s, on the Basque coast. The first club (Waikiki) was created in 1959. The first competitions (rowing race) organized in 1961. ​ Source:

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