Surfing - Surfing is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are found primarily in the ocean, but are also sometimes found in lakes and rivers, and also in manmade wave pools.
Many variations of the sport exist and the definitions of what constitutes a suitable wave, what is a surfboard, and even what is a surfer, have been expanding and multiplying over the years. Bodysurfing involves riding the wave without a board, and is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing. Other variations that have existed for centuries include paipo boarding, stand up paddle surfing, and the use of boats or canoes to ride waves. More modern craft that are used include inflatable mats (surfmatting), bodyboards, and foils. As documented in various surfing documentaries (including “Fair Bits”) other objects have occasionally been used instead of surfboards, including water skis, wakeboards, desks, guitars, and doors. When more than one person uses the same craft to ride a wave together, it is known as “tandem” surfing. People have also helped enable dogs, cats, pigs, rats, and mice to surf using boards. Remote-controlled and non-controllable toys such as the Micro Surfer and Mini Surfer can also ride waves.
Two major subdivisions within stand-up surfing are longboarding and shortboarding, reflecting differences in board design, including surfboard length, riding style, and the kind of wave that is ridden.
In tow-in surfing (most often, but not exclusively, associated with big wave surfing), a motorized water vehicle, such as a personal watercraft, tows the surfer into the wave front, helping the surfer match a large wave’s higher speed, which is generally a speed that a self-propelled surfer cannot match.
Surfing-related sports such as stand up paddle surfing, paddleboarding and sea kayaking do not require waves, and other derivative sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing rely primarily on wind for power, yet all of these platforms may also be used to ride waves.
Paddleboarding - Paddleboarding in the Northeast, Paddleboarding in New England, has really taken off, but where did it come from? People didn’t just start paddleboarding in New Jersey, or began paddleboarding in Boston, MA, it started a long time ago. In 1926, while restoring historic Hawaiian boards for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Blake built a replica of the previously ignored olo surfboard ridden by ancient Hawaiian aliʻi (kings). He lightened his redwood replica (olo were traditionally made from wiliwili wood) by drilling it full of holes and then covering them, creating the first ever hollow board as well as introducing the first modern paddleboard. Two years later,in 1928 using this same 16 ft (4.9 m), 120 lb (54 kg) board, Blake won the first ever Mainland surf contest, the Pacific Coast Surfriding Championships, an event integrating both surfing and paddling. Blake then returned to Hawaii to break virtually every established paddling record available, setting half-mile and 100-yard records that stood until 1955.
In 1932, using his drastically modified chambered hollow-board (now weighing roughly 60 lbs), which over the next decade he would tirelessly promote as a lifeguarding rescue tool, Blake out-paddled top California watermen Pete Peterson and Wally Burton in the first ever Mainland to Catalina crossing race (29 miles in 5 hours, 53 minutes). Over the next decade, Blake-influenced hollow boards (called “cigar boards” by reporters and later “kook boxes” by surfers) would be used in roughly equal proportion to solid plank boards for both paddling and surfing until the late ‘30s Hot Curl innovations led wave-riding in a new direction. For paddleboarding, however, the basic principles of Blake’s 1926 design remain relevant even today.
Paddleboarding experienced a renaissance in the early ‘80s after Los Angeles County lifeguard Rabbi Norm Shifren’s “Waterman Race” (22 Miles from Point Dume to Malibu) inspired surf journalist Craig Lockwood to begin production on a high quality stock paddleboard—known as the “Waterman.” Its design, that has arguably won more races than any other stock paddleboard, remains a popular choice today. Shortly after, L.A, surfboard shaper Joe Bark and San Diego shaper Mike Eaton began production, and soon became two of the largest U.S. paddleboard makers, eventually producing nearly half of the estimated 3-400 paddleboards made each year in the U.S. today. L.A. lifeguards Gibby Gibson and Buddy Bohn revived the Catalina Classic event in 1982 for a field of 10 competitors. Concurrently in Hawaii, the annual Independence Day Paddleboard Race from Sunset to Waimea was drawing a few hundred competitors, many using surfboards due to lack of proper paddleboards on the Islands. As paddlers began ordering boards from the Mainland, local surfboard shapers like Dennis Pang (now one of Hawaii’s largest paddleboard makers) moved quickly to fill the local niche. On both fronts, paddleboarding has been consistently gaining momentum and popularity.
Windsurfing – Windsurfing or sailboarding is a surface water sport that combines elements of surfing and sailing. It consists of a board usually two to four metres long, powered by the orthogonal effect of the wind on a sail. The rig is connected to the board by a free-rotating universal joint and comprises a mast, wishbone boom and sail. The sail area ranges from less than 3.0 m2 to more than 12 m2 depending on the conditions, the skill of the sailor and the type of windsurfing being undertaken. The history of windsurfing began in Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, USA when Newman Darby invented the sailboard in 1948. Although Darby did not patent his invention, he is commonly seen as the father of sailboarding and windsurfing.
Windsurfing can be said to straddle both the laid-back culture of surf sports and the more rules-based environment of sailing. Although it might be considered a minimalistic version of a sailboat, a windsurfer offers experiences that are outside the scope of any other sailing craft design. Windsurfers can perform jumps, inverted loops, spinning maneuvers, and other “freestyle” moves that cannot be matched by any sailboat. Windsurfers were the first to ride the world’s largest waves, such as Jaws on the island of Maui, and, with very few exceptions, it was not until the advent of tow-in surfing that waves of that size became accessible to surfers on more traditional surfboards. Extreme waves aside, many expert windsurfers will ride the same waves as wavesurfers do (wind permitting) and are themselves usually very accomplished without a rig on a conventional surfboard.
At one time referred to as “surfing’s ginger haired cousin” by the sport’s legendary champion, Robby Naish, windsurfing has long struggled to present a coherent image of the sport to outsiders. Indeed, participants will regularly use different names to describe the sport, including sailboarding and boardsailing. Despite the term “Windsurfing” becoming the accepted name for the sport, participants are still called “sailors” or “board heads” and not “surfers”
Windsurfing is predominately undertaken on a non-competitive basis. Organised competition does take place at all levels across the world and typical formats for competitive windsurfing include Formula Windsurfing, speed sailing, slalom, course racing, wave sailing, superX, and freestyle. These events are exciting to watch as sailors push the limits both physically and creatively with moves that look as impossible as thinking them up in the first place.
The boom of the 1980s led windsurfing to be recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984. However, windsurfing’s popularity saw a sharp decline in the mid-1990s, thanks to licensing battles, and equipment becoming more specialized and requiring more expertise to sail. Now the sport is experiencing a modest revival, as new beginner-friendly designs are becoming available.
Snowboarding - Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a slope that is covered with snow on a snowboard attached to a rider’s feet using a special boot set onto mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the U.S.A. in the 1960s and the 1970s and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998.
Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. Dubbed the “snurfer” (combining snow and surfer), the toy proved so popular among his daughter’s friends that Poppen licensed the idea to a manufacturer that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. And, in 1966 alone over half a million snurfers were sold.
In the early 1970s, Poppen organized snurfing competitions at a Michigan ski resort that attracted enthusiasts from all over the country. One of those early pioneers was Tom Sims, a devotee of skateboarding (a sport born in the 1950s when kids attached roller skate wheels to small boards that they steered by shifting their weight). As an eighth grader in Haddonfield, New Jersey, in the 1960s, Sims crafted a snowboard in his school shop class by gluing carpet to the top of a piece of wood and attaching aluminum sheeting to the bottom. He produced commercial snowboards in the mid 70′s. During this same time, Dimitrije Milovich—an American surfing enthusiast who had also enjoyed sliding down snowy hills on cafeteria trays during his college years in upstate New York—constructed a snowboard called “Winterstick,” inspired by the design and feel of a surfboard. Articles about his invention in such mainstream magazines as Newsweek helped publicize the young sport.
Also during this same period, in 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter, a Vermont native who had enjoyed snurfing since the age of 14, impressed the crowd at a Michigan snurfing competition with bindings he had designed to secure his feet to the board. That same year, he founded Burton Snowboards in Londonderry, Vermont. The “snowboards” were made of wooden planks that were flexible and had water ski foot traps. Very few people picked up snowboarding because the price of the board was considered too high at $38, but eventually Burton would become the biggest snowboarding company in the business. In the spring of 1976 Welsh skateboarders Jon Roberts and Pete Matthews developed a Plywood deck with foot bindings for use on the Dry Ski Slope at the school camp, Ogmore-by-Sea, Wales. UK. Further development of the board was limited as Matthews suffered serious injury while boarding at Ogmore and access for the boarders was declined following the incident. The ‘deck’ was much shorter than current snow boards. Bevelled edges and a convex, polyurethane varnished bottom to the board, allowed quick downhill movement, but limited turning ability.
In 1979 the first ever World Snurfing Championship was held at Pando Winter Sports Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake Burton Carpenter, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own design. There were many protests from the competitors about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, the top snurfer at the time, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A “modified” division was created and won by Jake as the sole entrant. That race was considered the first competition for snowboards and is the start of what has now become competitive snowboarding.
During the 1970s and 1980s as snowboarding became more popular, pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich, Jake Burton Carpenter (founder of Burton Snowboards from Londonderry, Vermont), Tom Sims (founder of Sims Snowboards), Chuck Barfoot (founder of Barfoot Snowboards) and Mike Olson (founder of Gnu Snowboards) came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that slowly developed into the snowboards and other related equipment that we know today.
Skiing - Skiing is a recreational activity using skis as equipment for traveling over snow. Skis are used in conjunction with boots that connect to the ski with use of a binding.
Skiing can be grouped into two general categories. The older of the two disciplines originated in Scandinavia and uses free-heel bindings that attach at the toes of the skier’s boots but not at the heels. Types of Nordic skiing include cross-country, ski jumping and Telemark. Alpine skiing (more often called “downhill skiing”), originated in the European Alps, and is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier’s boot.
The earliest people to ski may have been the distant ancestors of the modern day Sami. One of the early names used for the Sami was skridfinner/scricfinni/scritefinni/σκριϑίψινοι, which some have translated as “skiing Sami”. Pre-historic Nordic people and Sami used skis to assist in hunting, military maneuvers, and as a practical means of transportation. The oldest and most accurately documented evidence of skiing origins is found in modern day Norway and Sweden. The earliest primitive carvings circa 5000 B.C. depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway. The first primitive ski was found in a peat bog in Hoting, Sweden which dates back to 2500 or 4500 B.C. Joel Berglund reported in 2004 the discovery of a primitive ski, or “85cm long piece of wood”, carbon tested by researchers in 1997 while excavating a Norse settlement near Nanortalik, Greenland. The primitive ski dated back to 1010, and is thought to be Greenland’s oldest ski brought by Norsemen circa 980 A.D.
Other accounts of early Nordic skiing are found with two modern cross-country endurance races in Norway and Sweden. These ski races were inspired by famous historic accounts of early medieval skiing in their respective countries. The oldest account involves the famous story from 1206 A.D. of the Birkebeiners during a civil war in medieval Norway. Considered the underdog, the Birkebeiners were at war against a rival faction known as the baglers. Following the death of the Birkebeiner chief, the baglers feared a rival in his young son Håkon Håkonsson. To protect him, two of the most skillful Birkebeiner skiers, with toddler in tow, skied through treacherous conditions over the mountains from around Lillehammer to safety in Østerdalen valley. Since 1932, Norway’s annual Birkebeinerrennet runs a 54 km (34 mi) cross-country ski race that pays tribute to this historic account. Since 1922, Sweden has run their own ski marathon known as the Vasaloppet. With its longest race at 90 km (56 mi) and finishing in Mora, Sweden, it is known as the world’s longest cross-country ski race. This endurance race commemorates the memory of “freedom fighter” Gustav Vasa and subsequently Swedish independence. Pursued by the Danes in 1520 A.D. (under order from King Christian of Denmark who controlled Sweden at the time), Gustav Vasa attempted to raise an army against the Danes but was forced to flee by skis northwest toward Norway. Tracked down by Mora’s two best skiers, Gustav returned with them to Mora and led an uprising that eventually overthrew Danish rule.
Skiing is also recorded in Norse mythology, where two deities—the god Ullr and the goddess Skaði—are attested as hunting on skis. One of the world’s oldest references to skiing is by Egil Skallagrimsson’s “950 AD saga describing King Haakon Adalsteinsfostre the Good’s practice of sending his tax collectors out on skis”. Another one of the oldest written accounts of skiing is by Swedish writer Olaus Magnus in his writings A Description of the Northern Peoples in 1555. His accounts record early primitive skiers (presumably the Sami people) and their “climbing skins” in Scricfinnia, a country or region at the top of modern day Norway. Sometime around 1800 A.D. Danish traveler Father Knut Leed made reference in Geographie to Norwegian kids “skiing just for the fun of it, being able to pick up a hat dropped on the slope while going at full speed.
The word “ski” itself is one of a handful of words Norway has exported to the international community. It comes from the Old Norse word “skíð” which means split piece of wood or firewood. Previously, English speakers considered skiing to be a type of snowshoeing. In regions where loose snow dominates, the indigenous population developed snowshoes that did not slide across the snow, unlike skis. Today’s forms of skiing are the modern extensions of ancient Nordic skiing. Whether it be the Nordic forms of Cross-country skiing (a form of Telemark skiing) and Telemark skiing, Ski mountaineering or Alpine skiing, modern forms of skiing share common threads of origin from the Telemark region in Norway led by Norwegian ski innovator Sondre Norheim.
Kayaking - Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. Kayaking and canoeing are also known as paddling. Kayaking is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle. A kayak is defined by the International Canoe Federation (the world sanctioning body) as a boat where the paddler faces forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle. Most kayaks have closed decks, although “sit-on-top” kayaks are growing in popularity, as are inflatable kayaks which come without decks but which have air chambers surrounding the boat.
Whitewater kayaking involves taking a kayak down rapids, weirs and waterfalls. Sea kayaking, also referred to as ocean kayaking or touring, involves taking kayaks out on to the ocean or other open water such as a lake. It can involve short paddles with a return to the starting point (or “put-in”), or expeditions covering many miles and days. Kayaking of all kinds has become more popular through the 1990s and early 21st century.
Kayaks are classified by their use. There are eight primary classifications: polo, slalom, whitewater, surf, touring/expedition, light touring/day tripping, sprint/racing and general recreation. From these primary classifications stem many sub-classes. For example, a fishing kayak is simply a general-recreation kayak outfitted with accessories that make it easier from which to fish. A creek kayak is a certain type of whitewater kayak, designed to handle narrow gully type rivers and falls. Also within these classifications are many levels of performance which further separate the individual models. In other words, not all touring kayaks handle the same.
Kayaks and canoes are also classified by their design and the materials from which they are made. Kayaks can have hard or soft chines which require different types of handling. Each design has its specific advantage, including performance, maneuverability, stability, and paddling style. Kayaks can be made of metal, fiberglass, wood, plastic, fabrics, and inflatable fabrics such as PVC or rubber. Each material also has its specific advantage, including strength, durability, portability, flexibility, resistance to UV, and storage requirements. For example, Wooden kayaks can be created from kits or built by hand, but they are heavy to transport. Inflatable kayaks, made from lightweight fabric, can be dried, deflated, and stored in a closet.
There are several major configurations of kayaks. “Sit on tops”, as the name suggests, involve sitting on top of the kayak in an open area. “Cockpit style” involves sitting with the legs and hips inside the kayak hull with a “spray deck” or “spray skirt” that creates a water resistant seal around the waist. “Inflatables” are a hybrid of the two previous configurations, these boats have an open deck, but the paddler sits below the level of the deck. “Tandems” are configured for multiple paddlers, in contrast to the single person designs featured by most kayaks. Tandems can be used by two or even three paddlers. How a kayak is configured has nothing to do with its classification. All configurations are represented in each of the five primary classifications.
Skateboarding – is an action sport which involves riding and performing tricks using a skateboard. A person who skateboards is most often referred to as a skateboarder, or colloquially within the skateboarding community, a skater.
Skateboarding – can be a recreational activity, an art form, a job, or a method of transportation. Skateboarding has been shaped and influenced by many skateboarders throughout the years. A 2002 report by American Sports Data found that there were 18.5 million skateboarders in the world. 85 percent of skateboarders polled who had used a board in the last year were under the age of 18, and 74 percent were male.
Skateboarding is relatively modern. A key skateboarding maneuver, the ollie, was developed in the late 1970s by Alan “Ollie” Gelfand as a half-pipe maneuver. Freestyle skateboarder Rodney Mullen was the first to take it to flat ground and later invented the kickflip and its variations.
Skateboarding was probably born sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s when surfers in California wanted something to surf when the waves were flat. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at around the same time. These first skateboarders started with wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. The boxes turned into planks, and eventually companies were producing decks of pressed layers of wood – similar to the skateboard decks of today. During this time, skateboarding was seen as something to do for fun besides surfing, and was therefore often referred to as “Sidewalk Surfing”.
The first manufactured skateboards were ordered by a Los Angeles, California surf shop, meant to be used by surfers in their downtime. The shop owner, Bill Richard, made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, which they attached to square wooden boards. Accordingly, skateboarding was originally denoted “sidewalk surfing” and early skaters emulated surfing style and maneuvers. Crate scooters preceded skateboards, and were borne of a similar concept, with the exception of having a wooden crate attached to the nose (front of the board), which formed rudimentary handlebars.
A number of surfing manufacturers such as Makaha started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards, and assembling teams to promote their products. The popularity of skateboarding at this time spawned a national magazine, Skateboarder Magazine, and the 1965 international championships were broadcast on national television. The growth of the sport during this period can also be seen in sales figures for Makaha, which quoted $10 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965 (Weyland, 2002:28). Yet by 1966 the sales had dropped significantly (ibid) and Skateboarder Magazine had stopped publication. The popularity of skateboarding dropped and remained low until the early 1970s.
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