The riding of waves has likely existed since humans began swimming in the ocean. In this sense, bodysurfing is the oldest type of wave-catching. Standing up on what is now called a surfboard is a relatively recent innovation developed by the Polynesians.The influences for modern surfing can be directly traced to the surfers of pre-contact Hawaii.
The art of surfing, known as he'enalu in the Hawaiian language, was first described in 1769 by Joseph Banks on the HMS Endeavour during the third voyage of Captain James Cook. Surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture and predates European contact. The chief (Ali'i) was the most skilled wave rider in the community with the best board made from the best tree. The ruling class had the best beaches and the best boards, and the commoners were not allowed on the same beaches, but they could gain prestige by their ability to ride the surf on their boards.The sport was also recorded in print by other European residents and visitors who wrote about and photographed Samoans surfing on planks and single canoe hulls; Samoans referred to surf riding as fa'ase'e or se'egalu. Edward Treager also confirmed Samoan terminology for surfing and surfboards in Samoa. Oral tradition confirms that surfing was also practiced in Tonga, where the late king Taufa'ahau Tupou IV was the foremost Tongan surfer of his time.
In 1910, Tommy Walker returned to Manly Beach, Sydney, with a 10 foot surfboard "bought at Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, for two dollars." Walker became an expert rider and in 1912 gave several exhibitions in Sydney.Surfboard riding received national exposure with the exhibitions by Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku in the summer of 1914-1915 at several Sydney beaches. As a current Olympic sprint champion, Kahanamoku was invited to tour the Eastern states for an extensive series of swimming carnivals and at his first appearance in the Domain Pool, Sydney, smashed his previous world record for 100 yards by a full second. Following the first exhibition at Freshwater on 24 December 1914, in the New Year Kahanamoku demonstrated his skill at Freshwater and Manly, followed by appearances at Dee Why and Cronulla.Duke Kahanamoku's board is now on display in the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney, Australia.
A headland or point break interacts with the water by causing refraction around the point or headland. The point absorbs the high frequency waves and long period waves persist, which are easier to surf. Examples of locations that have headland or point break induced surf breaks are Dunedin (New Zealand), Raglan, Malibu (California), Rincon (California), and Kirra (Australia)
A beach break happens where waves break from offshore waves, and onshore sandbars and rips. Wave breaks happen successively at beach breaks. Example locations are Tairua and Aramoana Beach (New Zealand) and the Gold Coast (Australia).
A ledge break is formed by steep rocks ledges that makes intense waves because the waves travel through deeper water then abruptly reach shallower water at the ledge. Shark Island, Australia is a location with a ledge break. Ledge breaks create difficult surfing conditions, sometimes only allowing body surfing as the only feasible way to confront the waves.
260 km south of Perth, the tiny resort village of Yallingup marks the beginning of the famed Margaret River winery region, where wine enthusiasts and ‘waxheads’ (board-riders) have long converged in equal numbers. With several breaks that range from mild to monstrous depending on the swell, Yallingup is considered the best all-round surfing destination on Australia’s west coast.Further south, Prevelly Park is the heart of serious Margaret River surfing territory, where swells up to six metres get spun into perfect barrels across the treacherous offshore reef. No place for beginners or the faint-of-heart, "Surfers Point" at Prevelly even attracts the big-name big-wave lunatics from the US, and it’s one of the few places in Australia where board-riders wear helmets and nobody laughs at them.
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