Friday, November 8, 2013

The Evolution of The Surfboard

In the Beginning...

Ancient Hawaiian surfboards were made of solid wood and were between 10 to 16 feet long. The size of the surfboard represented a persons social class rank. Shorter boards were used by commoners while the longer boards were reserved for noblemen and chiefs who were often the most talented surfers. While in today's world surfing has turned into a recreational sport, in ancient Hawaii it was considered an extremely spiritual activity that involved rituals and prayers.

Introducing the hollow board
Tom Blake introduced the world to the first hollow board in 1926. After drilling hundreds of holes into a 15 foot, redwood board, Blake surrounded the top and bottom of the board with a thin layer of wood. The increased speed and maneuverability the board provided made it a success among surfers, and it soon became the first mass-produced surfboard. Additionally to his creation of the hollow board, Blake improved the stability of surfboards by adding a fixed fin to the tail of the board. Blake's influence on surfing didn't end their, he is also credited with the invention of surf photography, which increased the visibility of surfing around the world.

Balsa wood is the answer to a lighter board
The emergence of the lighter surfboard took place in the 30's when boards were constructed with balsa wood. The 30 to 40 pound weight difference the new material created grew in popularity. Unfortunately, balsa wood was not easy to come by which led to surfboards that were made with a combination of rosewood and Balsa wood.

Fiberglass boards make their mark
With inventions such as plastic, styrofoam, and fiberglass being presented to the world, it was only a matter of time before surfers utilized the new materials. Using plastic, rosewood, and a fiberglass seal, Peter Peterson crafted the first fiberglass surfboard in 1946. Another contributor in the fiberglass movement was a man named Bob Simmons. In 1949, Simmons created a board called the sandwich using styrofoam, plywood, balsa wood and fiberglass.

The march to the modern surfboard continues
The evolution in surfboards continued as board makers experimented with materials and board shapes. The 50's saw polyurethane foam being used in surfboards, along with the introduction of the gun surfboard which made control on large waves easier. The arrival of the 60's and 70's brought the short board into existence. Reducing a 10 foot board to a 6 foot board opened the doors for a more ambitious surfing experience. The 90's reintroduced the surfing community to the longboard, which is still in use today.
Surfing technology will continue to evolve through the decades with each new innovation striving to better the surfing experience. For more information on the modern surfboard, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

References history of the surfboard

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