What are famous surfing sports in Hawaii

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Surfing is one of the oldest sports in the world. It evolved from boardless surfing, which was common all over the Polynesian island world. During body surfing, Polynesians let themselves be carried to the beach by a wave. Surfing on a board was invented centuries ago in Hawaii, but when exactly is unknown. One thing is certain: the sport was initially reserved for the chiefs - which did not prevent their subjects from gliding secretly through the water as well. The boards were made with great care and accompanied by religious ceremonies. The "olo," a board that thickens towards the middle, was the chiefs board. They secured the best beaches, Waikiki, for example, and presumably held the first competitions back then. Two other boards were in use in old Hawaii: the "alaia", a short, agile board, more suitable for fast breaking waves, and the long, somewhat clumsy "kikoo", with which high speeds were reached.

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Men, women and children surfed the waves for their pleasure and mostly naked - to the displeasure of the missionaries who came to the islands from 1820 onwards. Surfing was part of the culture and was (and still is) often practiced right after sunrise. Visitors to the island were fascinated by the fact that the villages were often empty and work stopped because all the inhabitants were in the water and surfing. The Christian missionaries from the found surfing immoral, useless and decadent and banned the sport out of hand. Few Hawaiians continued to practice the sport and made sure it was not forgotten.

In 1898 Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, phonograph and film recorder, made the first short film to show surfers off Waikiki. In 1907 surfing was rediscovered: the American writer Jack London stayed on the islands with his wife Charmain, learned to surf and wrote his famous article "A Royal Sport" about it. His surf instructor, the journalist Alexander Ford Hume, founded the "Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club" in 1908. Hume became the first president of the club, which, among other things, aimed to keep surfing. Meanwhile, surfing legends George Freeth and two-time Olympic swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku ensured that surfing outside of Hawaii, especially in California and Australia, became known and popular.

The USA and Australia developed their own surfer culture and Hawaii received a brisk influx of tourists. The Californians had to subject themselves to a few restrictions when surfing, for example strictly adhering to a not too revealing dress code. In Australia, surfers were soon used to monitor the beaches and save lives, which made the sport less of a pleasure.
[Picture enlargement] In Hawaii, on the other hand, the tradition remained: surfing remained a pure leisure pleasure; everyone could wear what and as much as he wanted. Surfing was inseparable from the Hawaiian way of life, with the music, with the hula dances, it was and always was a way of life.

In the 1950s, discussions about the first surf competitions developed around the world. The opponents saw in the competition between the surfers the real meaning of the sport violated. Surfing should be more about being close to nature than hunting for points, noted one of Australia's most famous surfers, Bob Pike. Other surfers realized that the competitions helped bring the sport more recognition. In fact, surfing had a rather bad reputation until the early 1970s. It was considered a subculture, a hippie pastime. With the competitions, but also with the commercialization (prize money, sponsoring), the reputation changed. In the 1970s, several surfers' associations were founded around the world, claiming to represent "the" surfers. The Australian Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) and the Hawaii-based Association International Professional Surfers (IPS) fought violent arguments in the battle for members and sponsors.

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With the change in surf boards, surfing itself also changed. The old Hawaiian wooden boards were gradually replaced by light, manoeuvrable fiberglass boards, the shapes further developed. These enable the professionals to perform more and more complex maneuvers and figures. The more complicated the maneuver, the higher the score in the competitions. In the 90s, for example, the 360-degree turns were added to the repertoire of professional surfers, the "reverses" - an abrupt change of direction, and the "floaters" - "swimming" on the tip of a breakwater.

According to estimates by the "International Surfing Association", there are currently around 18 million people who surf professionally or just for pleasure.

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