Surfing, long considered the sport of Hawaiian kings helped revive water sports in Hawaii during the 1920’s. The emergence of the royal sport of surfing influenced a new breed of professionals known as “beachboys”. The term “beachboy” describes an individual whose work consists of surfing instruction and paddling outrigger canoes. According to Timmon’s, “the beach boys are a window into old Waikiki, for they were intimately connected to every part of it-the music, the water, the romance, the grand hotels and their celebrity guests” (Waikiki Beachboy, pg 15). The beachboys became the ambassadors of Waikiki, greeting tourists with aloha and teaching them how to surf a wave and paddle a canoe.
The 1930’s and 1940’s
As Waikiki becomes an international playground for the wealthy tourists, the culture of the beachboy is changing as well. Beachboys, known for their love of the ocean and competitive natures, are now competing in various forms of water sports. Outrigger canoe paddling regattas, swimming meets, and paddle boarding between islands were activities the beachboys excelled in. In 1948 the first catamaran was constructed by prominent Waikiki beachboy Woody Brown; this twin-hulled boat rides like a surfboard and is considered to be the fastest thing in the water.
The 1950’s & 1960’s
In 1952 the first ever Oahu to Molokai canoe race was formed, with three teams of canoe paddlers competing in the 40 mile open ocean race.
In 1954 the first major international surfing event was held at Makaha, Oahu that drew surfers from around the world. The event, known as the Makaha Internationals, held contests in tandem surfing and paddleboard races, in addition to men’s and women’s surfing competitions.
1959 marked the invention of the synthetic foam surfboard which revolutionized the surfing culture. When compared to the former wooden surfboards of the 20’s, easy to maintain foam surfboards allowed just about anyone to own and maintain a surfboard. Foam surfboards combined with surf music and beach movies created a 1960’s style surfing culture that influenced surf enthusiasts across the globe.
The first professional surfing event was held in Honolulu in 1968; the prize money was 1,000 dollars. Today surfing commands high dollar prize money with surfing professionals the world over competing for prize money. According to Hemmings, “Sunny Garcia is making over a quarter million dollars a year as a pro surfer. Kelly Slater is rumored to be making 1,000,000 with endorsement contracts” (The Soul of Surfing is Hawaiian, pg. 108).