Article featuring Joel Smith
Surfing has become one of the most popular recreational and competitive watersports. For many, it is a way of life, but how was it discovered? No one knows who first rode a wave simply for the pleasure of it. It could have been Stone Age fisherman on a log raft or in a dugout canoe, and it could have happened anywhere in the world where humans engaged the ocean.
Perhaps it was a swimmer. There are Egyptian cave drawings of swimmers dating back 10,000 years. Similar representations have been found in places ranging from Mesopotamia to Mexico. The first recreational surfer could have been bodysurfing a wave, thrilled by the experience and swimming out to do it again, or a swimmer clutching to a piece of driftwood and using it to plane on the surface of a breaker.
There are no recorded descriptions that can confirm any of this. There are however, several later observations that clearly describe the independent development of wave riding in very distant parts of the globe.
Images and description courtesy of Madden Corp.