Aloha and Welcome to this chapter of LEGENDARY SURFERS.
"Surfing's Revival: 1900-1915" covers perhaps the most dynamic time in our sport's history; certainly the most important.
This chapter has long been part of Volume 1 (published in 2005) and still is. However, I'm breaking out a copy of this particular chapter and making it available as an ebooklet (2.57 MB, 32 pages of which nearly 5 are footnotes; $2.95 USD) because I have seen so many mis-informed takes on this period, I feel my research needs to be shared and reach a broader audience. I'm putting a small price tag on it, in recognition of the work it took me to complete it. As with all my ebooklets, please have patience when ordering, as I fulfill the orders manually; nothing is automated. There are times when I am away from my computer, so there may be a delay, but usually not.
Here's how the chapter starts out:
By the end of the 1800s, surfing was a mere shadow of the grand sport it had been during the several centuries leading up to that time. A sport of kings and commoners throughout the Hawaiian Islands, practiced throughout Polynesia, and part of the Polynesian lifestyle, by the turn of the century it had become a pastime practiced by a very small number of people. It is difficult to say just how many surfers were surfing in Polynesia by 1900, but all sources indicate that the number is certainly below fifty people and possibly much smaller.
“The surfing temples were in ruins,” wrote Margan and Finney, “and the great sports festivals... and other sacred aspects of the sport had been largely, if not totally, forgotten. Few if any women surfed. And surfing contests with lively betting among surfers and spectators were a thing of the past... By this time the expert boardmakers had died out and what surf boards were being made were crude copies of the finely shaped boards of a hundred years previous... by the early 1900s it was evident that surfing had retrogressed several hundred if not a thousand years, and was probably not much more highly evolved than it was when the first Polynesian settlers in Hawaii began to develop the true surf board and to perfect surfing techniques.”7
With surfing nearly wiped-out in the Hawaiian Islands, that meant that surfing, worldwide, was virtually non-existent. Exceptions included types of surfing on the west coasts of Africa,8 and Peru.9 In Santa Cruz, California, at the very end of the 1800s, surfing was introduced but did not take a firm enough hold to remain on the U.S. mainland.10 At the end of the century, what little true surfing in the world was practiced at Waikiki, on O‘ahu, and on Kaua‘i by – most probably – less than twenty-five surfers...
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