Friday, Aug. 21, 2009

Cowabunga, Dude

Catching a wave is nothing new for Hawaiians. The first recorded account of surfing — penned around 1779 by a crew member aboard one of British explorer Captain James Cook's ships — included two entire pages about local people climbing on boards in the water to wait for "the greatest Swell that sets on shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top." By that time, the sport was already a centuries-old, integral part of Hawaiian culture: chiefs proved their mettle by showing off their wave-riding skills, and new surfboards were christened with chants at special ceremonies. Some Hawaiian place names are even derived from ancient surfing legends.