Surfers and their sports equipment have come a long way since surfboards were first conceptualized. The first recorded surfboards where 35kg, that is almost the same weight as three toddlers! Some of the longer boards weighed up to 68kg, and they all lacked fins and rockers. I trust modern-day surfers are grateful for the development and additions, making their sport/hobby easier to enjoy.
Solid, one chunk, Surfboards
Solid surfboards were usually carved out of wood. The ancients used them; in fact, the first recording of the surfboard in the seventeen-hundreds when Captain Cook mentioned them in his diary. The wood used would depend on what the locals had available; the Californians used Redwood. In Hawaii, your status in the community was the deciding factor in which wood you could use; there was unique wood that only royalty was allowed to use to shape their boards from. The solid wooden 35kg boards were not as buoyant as modern-day boards. However, this was taken into account when the length was decided; they could range from 3m to 6m and usually required a few people to carry them down to the shore.
As mentioned above, these boards had no fins and therefore could only be ridden in a straight line. There was no way those surfers could surf rail to rail or execute a 360 aerial. One pro was that more than one surfer could ride one wave at a time. Sadly, because the boards were so heavy, there were not many youngsters learning to surf. These boards were utilized until the nineteen-hundreds.
The Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, proudly displays the world’s oldest surfboard. It is over 230 years old and is rumoured to have belonged to Hawaiian royalty.
Lightweight, Hollow, Surfboards
1926 saw the birth of the first hollow surfboard, conceptualized and built by Thomas Blake. Marine plywood and waterproof glues were tested in construction, and the plywood was wrapped around a wooden frame. Rather amusing for those years. Thomas Blake is an icon in the surfing community as he was one of the most influential surfers. He was also a swimmer, author, actor, and clearly, an inventor. Surfers used these Thomas Blake designs well into the 1940s. Although they mimicked the shape of the original surfboards and still could not move as much on the waves, they were, at minimum, 15kg lighter.
The Invention of the Rocker
Bob Simmons is the brains behind the rocker, his name kind of sounds like a rockers name too. Not only did Simmons invent the rocker, but he added many innovative designs and shapes. One of these designs, called the “Simmons spoon”, had a bit of a curved-up nose, the birth of the rocker. This so-called rocker has a fantastic influence on how the water flows and the surfer’s performance on the waves.