Surfing in Hawaii Originated Hundreds of Years Ago



Venture capitalist Bill Malloy divides his time between serving as a founding general partner at Sway Ventures and acting as a board member and observer for numerous companies. Outside of his professional responsibilities, Bill Malloy enjoys surfing with his friends and founders from San Francisco.

One of the oldest sports practiced on the planet, surfing dates back to Hawaii in the 15th century. It is believed that the sport of he’enalu originated during this time. The phrase used to described the sport roughly translates to “wave-sliding.” Rather than regarding the activity as an attempt for humans to dominate the ocean, Hawaiians viewed it as an opportunity to commune with the sea. Surfing played a huge role in the class system in Hawaii for many years. High-class individuals had the longest boards and a reputation for being the best on the waves. They also had designated surf spots. As class status decreased, so did the size of the boards.

Although historians believe he’enalu originated in the 15th century, the first records of the sport did not appear until the late 1700s. Polynesians and Europeans made their first contact with native people in Tahiti during these years and witnessed them riding on the waves. Meanwhile, visitors to Hawaii witnessed the same activity. Unfortunately, surfing fell to the wayside along with many Hawaiian traditions thanks to European diseases and missionaries.

During the next several centuries, some Hawaiians continued surfing, and the sport experienced a re-growth in popularity. Native Hawaiians established a surf club in 1905. Since then, the sport has grown and spread around the world.

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