tampabay.com

Surf's up!

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published March 3, 2006


SURFING: A BRIEF HISTORY

Many historians believe Polynesians were riding waves as far back as 2000 B.C. By about 400 A.D., surfing had reached the Hawaiian islands, where it would become not just a sport, but also a way of life. It also connected Hawaiians to their religious beliefs because to them the ocean held great mystique. After European missionaries arrived, a crackdown on Hawaiian traditions nearly led to the demise of surfing in the 1800s. But when local legend Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimming champion, traveled to California and Australia for demonstrations in the beginning of the 20th century, it began picking up steam on a global level. By the 1950s, surfing had become ultra popular on the beaches of California and when the movie Gidget, which was based on the life of teenager Kathy Kohner, was introduced in 1959 surf culture exploded. Today, surfing is a billion-dollar industry and professionals compete throughout the world.

THE STICK

Boards come in all shapes and sizes. If you are 13 years old, weigh 100 pounds soaking wet, youll probably want a shortboard. But listen up groms: If you want to catch lots of waves, buy a longboard. The classic Malibu shape is well suited for the mushy, slop & chop youll find during the winter. Bic, the same company that makes the pens you use in school, offers several shapes that are good for a beginner.

Large: When you finally come of age, start riding a true longboard (9 to 10 feet).

Medium: Once you learn to surf, graduate to a fun shape (7- to 8-foot range).

Small: A soft-top, though not known for performance, will make the learning curve a little easier.

FAMOUS SURFERS

TOM CURREN: Among world's dominant surfers in the 1980s.

PHIL EDWARDS: Considered first professional surfer.

DUKE KAHANAMOKU: Known to many as the father of modern surfing.

KELLY SLATER: Some call Cocoa Beach native the best ever.

FRIEDA ZAMBA: Legendary female competitor got start in Flagler Beach.

SURFIN' CINEMA

GIDGET (1959): A young girl discovers surfing and love. Staring Sandra Dee as Gidget and Cliff Robertson - yes, that Cliff Robertson - as The Big Kahuna. Mickey Dora, nicknamed Da Cat, wore a blonde wig and did many of the surf scenes.

THE ENDLESS SUMMER (1966): Two young surfers in search of the perfect wave are followed around the world in this classic documentary.

BIG WEDNESDAY (1978): Iconic surfing movie chronicled the lives of three friends in the 1960s and '70s.

NORTH SHORE (1987): Waves, women and a Hawaiian backdrop.

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (1987): Flick about surf gangs is regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. That alone makes it worth watching.

POINT BREAK (1991): Patrick Swayze is a surfin' bank robber. Keanu Reeves is an undercover FBI agent. It's hard to believe this one failed to get any Oscar consideration.

SURFIN' MUSIC: THROUGH THE YEARS

Dick Dale: Called the King of Surf Guitar by many, the avid surfer was a pioneer in surf rock in the 1950s and '60s. Later, his recording of Misirlou became the title song for the hit Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction (1994).

The Surfaris: Popular band of the 1960s is famous for producing the song Wipe Out, which featured the classic up-and-down guitar riff and famed solo drum roll that is still recognizable today.

The Beach Boys: Sunny vocal harmonies have helped them transcend generations.

Blink-182: California-based new-school punk rockers have appeared in numerous surf videos.

Jack Johnson: Professional surfer turned musician is a modern pop superstar, and his tunes are especially popular among wave riders.