From beginning to nowdays: the evolution of surfboards

di Erika Scafuro


Shortboard or longboard? Single or twin fin? Today you can choose between several shapes and materials the board that best fits your skills and that gives you maneuverability depending on the wave you want to ride and technique you want to use. Technology goes so fast and there are always news around the corner.


Surfer Girl | Free SVG


But what if you were a surfer at the end of 1700? The english explorer Captain James Cook made several explorations for British royal society and in 1778 he sailed into Pacific Ocean until he has been the first european to reach Hawaii islands. In his diary we have the first surf testimonials, Cook wrote about people who sliding along the waves up on a wood “plank”.


Captain James Cook(1728-1779). Nathaniel Dance. BHC2628


Papa heenalu, as the first surf boards of history were called in hawaiian language, were made of wood. The most valuables boards were made of Koa wood, from Acacia koa tree. As you can see in some museum, these boards were a squared bottom and a curved nose. They were too much heavy and long.

Surfing was deeply rooted in the life and in the culture of the ancient Hawaiian people. After choosing the tree trunk from which to build the board, they made it with stones and tools of the time. Surf was strictly connected with spirituality since they were used to believe that their heart would have entered in the board they were shaping.


Image from page 38 of "Hawaii and its people; the land of … | Flickr


Surf boards would continue to be built in wood and remain very long, but one of the surf pioneers as Duke Kahanamoku contributed to shape more maeuverable boards.
Surfers had to wait beginning of 1900 when the weight of boards was getting lighter and more performing and balance was stabilized up the board. Riding a wave they could give directions with their movements along the nose of the board. Tom Blake, american surfer, experienced hollow wood and the use of a fin in the stern: around ‘30s he helped surf boards evolution.

The step forward into surf boards was made with the inclusion of innovative materials as fiberglass and polyurethane foam. This seem to have been possibile with Bob Simmons, Dave Sweet and Hobie Alert that, more or less in 50’s, introduced and shaped new models.


File:Dr. Cyril Pemberton surfing Waikiki Beach in 1916.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons


It was a golden age for surf because then we went to meet shortboard revolution, we have already seen how Robert “Nat” Young contributed in it. Not to forget that development of surf boards also included new elements as the rocker for speed and floating and and the leash for security thanks to Pat O’Neill.

To get to the present day, we saw a big evolution in materials and models. Carbon fiber, different foams, resin, fin systems, rockers and so on. Shapers have so much to experiment, create and make happy a surfer.
A Bear surfboard means authenticity, the best quality and the best shapers in the world to continue to give memory to the surf history and its spirit. Let’s have a look of what could be with you in the best ocean moments


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