Authored by: Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee

Routledge Handbook of Global Sport

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138887237
eBook ISBN: 9781315714264
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides a global overview of surfing’s origins and evolution beginning with modern surfing’s millenarian antecedents in indigenous waveriding, seabathing, and near-shore ocean navigation. After examining accounts of aquatic cultures prior to and during early modern colonialism, the chapter plots the nineteenth- and twentieth-century rise of surfing across the globe. Surfing is posited as both a continuation of global forms of indigenous waveriding and a secularized expansion and exportation of Hawaiian he‘e nalu (standup surfing) across the globe, made possible by Western visitors to Hawai‘i and traveling Hawaiians who popularized the sport through exhibitions in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. From these beach cultures, surfing evolved into a profoundly international practice and, later, competitive sport boasting robust transnational surfboard and apparel industries. These institutions would contribute to and later sponsor the professionalization of competitive surfing. The chapter also explores how the international surfboard industry evolved from a constellation of geographically isolated surfers who built their own surfcraft at beaches around the globe and rode waves among friends before globalization connected surfing hubs and brought waveriding to shores across the world.

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