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Surfing's Decline
Modern Surfing
The Duke
Modern Boards
Surf Clubs
Waikiki Beachboys
Competitive Surfing
Modern Surfing Greats
Surfing in Popular Culture
Tom Blake
Bibliography - Surfing

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Modern Surfing

Surfing experienced a resurgence at the start of the 20th century and its popularity as a sport has never flagged since. New surfing activity focused at Waikiki and grew alongside Oahu's fledgling tourist trade. Writer Jack London did much to publicize the sport in his 1907 article, "A Royal Sport: Surfing at Waikiki," published in Woman's Home Companion. London was introduced to surfing by Alexander Hume Ford, a journalist and surfer who founded the Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club in 1908. Another inspiration for London was George Freeth, an Irish-Hawaiian beach boy he nicknamed "Brown Mercury." Waikiki's star surfer at the time, Freeth demonstrated surfing in California, sponsored by the Redondo-Los Angeles Railway and Henry Huntington, while working as a trainer and lifeguard.

By 1909, surfing had revived sufficiently to boast among its ranks a former governor and judges from the Territorial Supreme Court. Hawai`i also attracted more and more surfers coming from outside the Islands. One influential arrival was Tom Blake, a swimming enthusiast from Wisconsin. After moving to California and then Hawai`i, Blake revolutionized the sport with the hollow surf and paddleboards he produced in the 1920s and '30s. Other board shapers added further refinements that made surfing both more exciting and challenging for experienced waveriders and easier for beginners.
The act of surfing is a special form of interaction with life. Each wave is a life unit, and when you learn to flow gracefully with a wave, you're learning to flow with life.
-Steve Pezman, Surfer Magazine

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