Surfboards have come a long way to become as good as they are today. Many men have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of developing a better board for a better ride. Advances in surfboard design over the years range from size, weight and shape, to fins, to the materials used, to different boards designed for different wave types. Surfboard design has always been a personal thing. Shapers tend to be surfers themselves, and board design is as much an engineering act as it is a love for surfing.
The history of the surfboard has shown great evolution in design and manufacture. Surfboards have been around for many hundreds of years. The Hawaiians were the first to invent the surfboard. The oldest surfboard in history dates back to 1778, and it is still on display in Hawaii’s Bishop Museum (“The History of the Surfboard – From wood to Fiberglass”).
The first surfboards were carved from trees weighing 100 pounds, and having almost no maneuverability at all. The original Hawaiian surfboards were made from all sorts of trees and varied in length from 10-16 feet on average; however, board size was not based on skill level like it is today, but based on social class. The longer surfboards were for the royal family, and the shorter boards were for the peasants. These surfboards were made from trees and were solid. They had no fins and went in one direction only, straight ahead.
During the late 18th century, Captain James Cook, a European explorer, sailed to the Hawaiian Islands and saw the locals surfing. By then, surfing was firmly established into the Hawaiian lifestyle and had been around for hundreds of years. However, when the western/white missionaries arrived to the islands, surfing nearly died out. At the start of the 20th century the missionary’s influence over the islanders began to decline and eventually the Hawaiians, Europeans, and Americans settlers began getting along and started surfing again. Amongst the new settlers was George Freeth, who