The ancient ocean loving pastime of he"enalu is the only Polinesian pastime to dig deep and flourish wherever it has been introduced. Today it is practiced on either coast of the United States, Australia, Brazil, France, Portugal, South Africa, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Hawaii and even in the frigid waters of Alaska.
In 1777, British explorer Captain James Cook observed islanders surfing at Matavai Point in Tahiti. He explained this happening by writing, "[they] place themselves on the summit of the largest surf by which they are driven along with amazing rapidity toward the shore." Cook also noticed people surfing when he visited the Sandwich Islands in 1778. In 1821, surfing was almost completely eliminated by European Christian missionaries, who considered it an immoral form of amusement and suppressed it along with much else in the Hawaiian culture. By the time surfing was revived around the turn of the century, there were only a few Hawaiian surfers left. .
The beginning of the sport as we know it was introduced in North America by Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian, who surfed Santa Cruz in Northern California in 1885. Kahanamoku is generally known as the ambassador of the sport of surfing.
Surfing, however, remained a predominately Hawaiian pastime until Tom Blake visited the state of Hawaii in 1922 and was overcome by the challenging yet addictive sport. Blake's enthusiasm for surfing was equaled by his innovative nature. Thirsting for a lighter and more maneuverable board, he made the first "honeycomb" board by drilling hundreds of holes into a redwood plank and covering it with a wood veneer. The 100-pound board was considered lightweight at that time, 15 feet long, 19 inches wide and 4 inches thick. The board was gargantuan by today's standards.
The surfboard being the most essential piece of equipment in surfing, has undergone many changes in the sports history, but none more dramatic than the transition of the longboard to the short board.