A basic guide to the 10 current methods for the sport of surfing

Juanferpt's picture
12 · 19 · 2017

Surfing is now the king of aquatic sports and was once the sport of Polynesians kings, practiced since ancient times by the inhabitants of the South Pacific islands, discovered by European sailors in the seventeenth century and relaunched in the early twentieth century by the Beach Boys of Waikiki.

From there, surfing traveled from its traditional Polynesian waters to the waters of California's beaches at the hands of writer Jack London, journalist Alexander Hume Ford and the Irish-Hawaiian cross-breed, Georges Freeth, the first life guard in the United States. In the XXI century, surfing has not only reached all oceans but has extended to lakes and rivers around the world and has given rise to a family of aquatic sports for everyone.

HSo far, the 10 forms of aquatic sports that have arisen from changes in surfing are:

Surfing: The art of sliding on the surface of water, called 'he'enalu' in the Hawaiian language and practiced for over 1000 years in the Pacific Ocean. It is the king of aquatic sports and one of the oldest practices of mankind.

Bodysurfing: In Hawaiian 'Kaha Nalu', possibly the oldest surfing practice is to 'bodysurf' at sea using the body for sliding over the waves. For some it is the most genuine form of riding the waves.

Kayaksurfing: A merger of two traditional water sports, surfing and kayaking, which uses the driving force of the waves to slide over them with the help of a kayak and a short paddle. It was the lifeguards from the beaches of Australia and South Africa, in the 1930s, who began to enjoy using the waves with the same boats for rescuing swimmers. Gradually this practice became popular enough to become a real sport.

Windsurfing: Also known as 'Sailboarding', this is a form of surfing where the surfboard is propelled by a sail mounted on it. Since the American, Newman Darby, made the first successful navigation of a Pennsylvanian lake in 1964, windsurfing has evolved considerably in technology and variety and today is one of the most popular forms of surfing.

River Surfing: This consists of surfing in rivers, where in the absence of waves, waterfalls caused by stones and other obstacles that create a wave behind them are sought. The surfer must go upstream and catch a wave with a sensation of sailing quickly on the water, but actually does not move. Although documented in Germany in 1955, it didn't catch on for 70 years.

Bodyboard: This is an aquatic sport in which the surfer slides on the surface or wall of the wave with a board, usually polyethylene or polypropylene, created in 1971 by Californian Tom Morey, inventor of the first bodyboard. There are 3 styles or ways of sliding on a boogie board:

  1. Prone or lying down, the most widespread and the one that characterizes the Boogie Board.
  2. Dropknee or kneeling on one leg.
  3. Stand up or standing up on the board.

Kitesurfing: Known first as 'Flysurf' and then as 'Kiteboard', this means to ride a board on the water attached by cables and a hook to a traction kite. Although there were some precedents, we consider that 'Kitesurfing' was born in Brest, Brittany (France) in 1985, during the course of 'Speed Week' ('Semaine de Vitesse') with a prototype ski pulled by a flying sail designed by brothers Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux, who won the prize for best invention at this annual festival of sailing enthusiasts.

Stand Up Paddle Surfing: In the Hawaiian language, 'he'e ku hoe Nalu', paddle surfing or SUP, represents the growth and evolution of the younger generation of surfing and aquatics over the past decade. It means to surf the waves standing on a longboard with the help of an oar. It emerged in the 1960s as a practical way for surf instructors to monitor their students and also to give notice of the arrival of large waves in a fast and simple way.

Tow-in Surfing: Practiced since the mid-90s of the twentieth century by Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, Dave Kalama, Milton Willis, Michael Willis, Sandra Chevally, Thomas Bernard and others. In this type of surfing, the surfer is towed into a breaking wave by a personal watercraft, or even by helicopter since the beginning of this century. The aim is to reach specific objectives such as large or difficult waves, like the Mavericks in northern California or Teahupoo in Tahiti.

Skimboarding: A mixture of surfing and skateboarding, practiced a few feet from the shore by dropping special fiberglass boards filled with high density foam, without a keel, and then jumping on them and doing various tricks and turns.

Numerous technical innovations, such as comets or jet skis, have enabled the tribe of the kings of the waves to extend their scope without limits beyond those imposed by their fantasy and passion for surfing. Innovative creativity and new technologies are combined with deep respect for the inherited traditional techniques of past surfers to discover new ways to tackle the big waves.

And possibly the evolution of surfing doesn't end here...