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Fun Facts about Surfing

8 October, 2020
two girls sitting on their surfboards on a beach

Surfing is a sport that breaks language, culture and racial barriers. 

It has successfully done so over the years producing a lot of individuals who have in return contributed much to the sport.

To some, surfing may be a fad, a craze, or an obsession, but to the founders and pillars of the sport, it was passion for surfing that created the biggest swell of surfers worldwide.

Let’s have a look at some interesting and fun facts about this sport:

  1. The first account of surfing was given in 1778 by Captain James Cook when he saw it being practiced in Hawaii. Cook wrote: “I could not help concluding this man had the most supreme pleasure while he was driven so fast and so smoothly by the sea.”
  2. The first official surfing contest took place at Corona del Mar, California in 1928.
  3. There has been a degree course in Surf Science and Technology at Plymouth University in the UK since 1999.
  4. The record for the longest surf ride is 3 hours, 55 minutes, set by Panamanian surfer Gary Saavedra in 2011, riding an artificial wave created by power boat.
  5. A person who hangs around a beach pretending to be a surfer but isn’t is called a ‘hodad’.
  6. The biggest wave ever recorded was 1738 feet!
  7. 1738 feet translates to 530 meters - about 500 feet taller than the Empire State Building and nearly half the height of Ben Nevis! This mega-tsunami happened in 1958 in Lituya Bay in southern Alaska and Bill and Vivian Swanson were unlucky (or privileged?) enough to see it with their own eyes from their fishing boat.
  8. The most people to ever stand on one surfboard is 47.
  9. The surfboard was scaled up to 12 m and the 47 surfers boarded at Snappers Rocks, Queensland on 5 March 2005. 
  10. Is it possible to surf on a river?
  11. There are rivers that, at certain times of the year, create a backflow and make waves on the river in one spot. These waves are known as tidal bores. People have gone out and surfed these river-waves. One such river is in England.
  12. The longest ride ever done on a single wave was 37 minutes on a pororoca, a tidal bore found on the Amazon River.
  13. Dogs enter surfing competitions too!
  14. Huntington Beach in California isn’t just a hot spot for human surfers. For the past five years it’s hosted the Annual Surf City Surf Dog contest to raise money for animal welfare organizations.  Naturally, dogs are judged on their confidence riding the waves and how long they stay on the board. This video should give you a better idea of what actually happens. Note the pro-canine who takes on the waves backwards.
two girls holding their surf boards on a beach

Our Biarritz summer camp students (8 - 18 years old) enjoy surfing as one of their premium activities

Bonus 'surfing' related facts:

  • The first recorded use of ‘surfing’ as a mode of using the internet was in 1992.
  • The term ‘channel-surfing’ for frequent changes between TV channels dates back to 1986.


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