Surfing originated in Hawaii, where it has been common since the 15th century. Surfing evolved and flourished in the 1950s, as new types of boards made it more accessible to the general public. Known today as the World Surf League, the first international surfing federation – International Professional Surfers – was founded in 1976 and has organised the annual World Championship Tour ever since. Today, this spectacular nature-based sport has over 35 million enthusiasts – most of whom are young – across five continents.
Brief overview of the rules
Surfers perform manoeuvres and tricks on a wave, the totality of which is scored by five judges based on the variety, type and difficulty of tricks. Surfers are also judged on their speed, power and flow. Shortboards are the surfboards of choice for the Olympics, just like in the World Championship Tour. Smaller than longboards, shortboards are faster and more manoeuvrable, which makes them the ideal board to perform spectacular tricks.
In the 1920s, people like Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian athlete and three-time Olympic freestyle champion, began campaigning for surfing to be added to the Olympic programme. Many years later, surfing finally made it onto the Olympic programme for the Tokyo 2020 Games. It will also feature at the Paris 2024 Games, as the legendary surfing spot Teahupo’o in Tahiti has been selected as the venue for the surfing events.
International federation : International Surfing Association
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