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Board Sports | Suntan Sports | Under the Sun

Today there are many sports that involve water and the list keeps growing. One interesting category involves the use of a board of some type, and while surfing has been around the longest and is arguably the best-known board and water activity, other variations have been developed over the years.

Surfing was an important part of ancient Polynesian culture. It was first watched attentively by some Europeans whose ship was docked in Tahiti in the mid 1700s. In the mid 1800s Mark Twain was in Hawaii and wrote: “In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing.” Surfing today is not only for participants, but also for the spectators. There are surfers that enjoy the activity for recreation but also those who live to surf. California, Florida and Hawaii are the United States surfing states, however Chile, Costa Rico, Ireland and Australia can also be added onto the list of places for great surfing. There are some people that remember back when the station wagon called the “woodie” used to carry those beautiful shiny surf boards on them. The surf board used to be made of solid wood which made them not only long but very heavy. (At least that’s what my grandparents told me!) Then in the 1940s and 1950s the boards were made with a lighter balsa wood. Today most surf boards are made of polyurethane foam that are made of wooden strips (8-10), fiberglass cloth and polyester resin. The sport of surfing today brings to this industry multi-billions of dollars, especially in the fashion and clothing markets.  There are surf camps and schools for the beginner and intermediate class that focus on surfing’s basic principles. Normally these surfing instructions are performed on private lessons, but can also be accomplished with a group. In order to become a surfer, one must be able to balance one’s body well. Today surfers not only use the surfboard, but also longboards, stand-up paddle boards (SUP’s), bodyboards, wave skis, surf mats, kneeboards and skimboards. In the future manufacturers are looking at epoxy, which is lighter and stronger than fiberglass. In the warmer surfing areas swimsuits and surf trunks are worn out surfing the waves, but in the colder regions surfers usually wear wetsuits, boots, hoods and gloves. In the winter months Maverick in Northern California is a favorite spot for surfers. Maverick has some of the world’s best big waves for this time of year, but only a few of the very best big wave surfers risk the hazardous conditions at this location. The first contest held at Maverick’s was in 1999.

Bodyboarding (or “Boogieboarding”) is also a form of surfing. A bodyboard is a rectangular board constructed out of foam. This sport is done by either lying down on it or in a half-standing (“dropknee”) position. These boards were once made from wood or fiberglass and foam (“paipo” boards). A man by the name of Tom Morey is not only known for being a musician, engineer and surfer, but also as an inventor of the first Morey Boogieboard in 1971 which was a durable soft board and with the performance of a hard surfboard.

Kite surfing is also called kiteboarding, flysurfing or kitesurfing. One needs a very strong kite to pull a small surfboard or wakeboard (on water); or a wheeled board on the land. This kind of surfing can also be used on snow (snowkiting). This is a safe sport due mainly to the new kite designs and safety release systems.

Skimboarding is when a surfer rides a “skimboard” on a wave, or in shallow water. Most of these boards have a nose lift, or rocker of which there are three types. The constant rocker helps the surfer have good control on the bigger waves.  The hybrid rocker has a curve at the bottom of the board and this helps with speed and control. The third is a traditional rocker and is almost completely flat except the nose has a small curve preventing it from digging into the sand. This traditional board is great for speed runs.

Windsurfing is a sport that involves travel over the water on a small board (2-4 meters) which is powered by the wind against one sail. The sail is connected to the board and looks like a miniature sailboat. In order to navigate the windsurf board, the rider tilts the mast. There are windsurfing schools in different countries that teach the basic skills of sailing, steering and turning and can be learned in a few short hours.

These all sound like such fun, but remember to be watchful of riptides. Riptides can be dangerous for even the most experienced surfers.  Additionally, being out in the water with the fabulous sun beating down on the water can also be dangerous. Always remember no one is safe from sunburns so protect yourself when playing in the water or just out in the sun with a good sunscreen.

Do you like to surf? Where do you like to surf best of anywhere in the world? Send us a picture(s) or a story of one of your surfing trips. We at suntan.com would love to read all about it. Do you have any questions about surfing? Write us at Suntan Crew.

-Ms. Suntan

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