The Hawaii is a state in the U.S, located in the coast of the pacific. Hawaii is known over years for it popularity in surfing. Surfing first started when a British general introduced to the residence in the early 18 century. Surfing was a sport engaged in during the Makahiki season. Because of the dangerous nature of the sport, children and women were not allowed to participate in the sport. Commoners also were not to participate though if one was seen as a good surfer, he was allowed to take part in the sport. At the inception of the sport, it was considered a form of entertainment for the chiefs during the season but was used engaged in as a sporting activity (Drent, 1993).
Surfing was a sport participated in by a number of twenty to thirty men who set out to the sea of specially designed boards. The rules of the game were that whoever cruised through the violent waves and came back to the shores successfully was the winner of the game. It involved the men going out together and diving into the on-coming waves and avoids being washed back into the rocks. Once they encountered a wave, they could dive under it and cruise their way through the calm sea until they came across another wave. Upon reaching the end of the waves, they could rest a bit as they await the returning waves that came back after hitting the rocks.
On their way back, it involved timing the strongest wave to take them back to the main lands and not to take the small ones that broke amidst the sea. On their way back, the surfers had to negotiate their way round the rocks in order to avoid smashing against the dangerous rocks. Surfers who failed to negotiate their way through to the shores were forced to dive off their boards lest they rammed into the rocks. According to the rules of the game, this amounted to losing the challenge. Surfers who managed to steer their back to the shores were considered the winners.
Surfing, in the ancient Hawaii, was not just considered a sport; it had a deep attachment to the cultures and systems of the people of Hawaii. The nobles, because of the power they wielded monopolized the sport. They exercised the sport as a way of expressing leadership over the people of Hawaii. As explained by Ancient Sport and Ali`i Surfers (n.d), before surfers went out into the sea, a priest could take part in the construction of the surfboard as a symbol of luck for the surfers. However, because of the status accorded to surfing, it was mostly the nobles who took part in the sport. They could choose the best spots to start their surf as well as choosing the best with which to make their boards.
The surfboards were not just made out of any type of tree. The Kapu system of leadership retained the authority of deciding which trees to use in making the surfboards. Nevertheless, not all surfers used the same types of boards to participate. Depending on one’s class, each board was designed with a specific type of tree and with specific length. For instance, whilst the boards used by the nobles measured 14 to 16 feet in length, those used by the commoners measured less, approximately 10 to 12 feet in length (Dent, 1993).
According to Marcus (2005), to ensure the nobles stood a considerably better chance of emerging winners in games, their boards were made out of trees light in weight thus providing a great deal of buoyancy compared to those of the commoners. However, for reasons of smooth cruising, all boards were designed with round-shaped ends to achieve a great deal of streamlined rowing. The process of designing the boards followed predetermined rituals right from the selection of the trees to the completion of the board making.
Once the artisans identified the appropriate tree to be used, they held prayers and place a Kumu, a ceremonial fish, in a hole next to the roots of the tree. After felling the tree, it was towed away and chipped with sharp bones or stone adzes. The boards were well shaped and passed through numerous stages in order to achieve a fine object. Finally, the artisans applied a black color on the board as part of the final touches. For the boards that came back to the shores after the competitions, they were treated with coconut oil and wrapped in Tapa clothing to preserve the wood for future use (Ancient Sport and Ali`i Surfers, n.d).
The sport continued for years attracting many people to participate when the nobles’ interest in the sport subsequently declined. However, with the coming of the missionaries, and the shift from warring to agricultural practices, the spirit of surfing in Hawaii declined. The missionaries were against the practice because, at this time, the commoners had turned into surfing naked. However, in the early 19th century, some boys famously known as, “Beach Boys of Waikiki” introduced surfing in Hawaii.
This is the group of boys credited for the rebirth of the sport, and they are responsible for the existence of the sport up to date in Hawaii. To date surfing, though, it has evolved into a modern sport involving the use of modern surfboards, it still attracts thousands of tourists from around the world annually, who visit Hawaii. Despite the numerous challenges surfing underwent during the time of missionaries, it still places Hawaii in the world map as the best surfing sport.