Surfing is truly a global pursuit, and for those looking to live the endless summer, Rad Season’s calendar of 2017 surf events will ensure that you always have sand between your toes.
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach is always a crowd favorite, but for those looking to escape the hordes of humanity, there are a number of stops on the WSL Championship Tour that always come with a little slice of paradise.
From the first event of the year, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, at Snapper Rocks, to the J Bay Open in South Africa and the Tahiti Pro at Teahupoo to the grand finale on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii for the Billabong Pipeline Masters one can literally island-hop around the world chasing contests and perfect surf.
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Surfing, known as He'e nalu in Hawaiian, has existed in some form since humans first began swimming in the ocean- making it one of the oldest forms of sport on the planet. The first people to ride waves while standing on boards however, were the Polynesians. In Polynesian society, only the upper class had access to the beaches and the best boards, but one way to move up in the ranks of society was to surf, and surf better than anyone else. The ocean is the great equalizer, and if you could ride with the rad, you could become the stuff of legend. As Polynesian society spread through the Pacific, surfing made its way to Hawaii, where it became increasingly important to culture and life.
Hawaii's most famous chiefs were renowned surfers, showing courage by riding the gnarliest of waves, and locations throughout Hawaii's numerous beaches were named after famous surfing incidents and happenings. It wasn't just men that surfed in the Hawaiian heyday, both men and women rode the waves. In fact, one famous incident, when a commoner dropped in a wave of a noble Hawaiian woman, resulted in him offering his sacred Lehua Wreath to avoid a death sentence. When British explorer James Cook made his way to Hawaii in 1778, the sport of surfing was introduced to the world. As European influences took hold and spread throughout Hawaii and Polynesia, the cultural importance of surfing dwindled, but its spirit remains alive in the numerous surfing events and competitions that take place throughout the pacific and the rest of the oceanic world today.
Surfing took off in the American and European circuits in the years that followed, with even famous author Mark Twain trying (and failing) to catch a wave or two. Oddly enough, in 1907 another famous author, Jack London visited Hawaii and was introduced to surfing by a group of Hawaiian natives called the Waikiki Swimming club. London became so enamored with the sport, which he called a dying, beautiful sport- a sport of kings. London's book, "A Royal Sport: Surfing in Waikiki" ignited the Western World's imagination, and surfing rose to new prominence. A member of the Waikiki Swimming Club, the Irish/Hawaiian George Freeth, who London wrote about in his book, received offers to tour the California coast, introducing surfing to the American public and becoming one of the first internationally-known surfing star. From then on surfing slowly rose in prominence, mostly as a fringe extreme sport. In the 1950's and 60's however, surfing found larger fame on the silver screen with movies like Endless Summer and Blue Hawaii. Surfing had found a place in popular culture, further popularized by the musical stylings of the Beach Boys, and by the mid 60's, everybody was surfin'. From the 60's to now surf culture has grown to the point where you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't know who Kelly Slater or Laird Hamilton are. Surfing videos of the raddest rides and gnarliest wipeouts are instantly accessible to everyone thanks to YouTube.
It's true, surfing has gone worldwide, with competitions like the Quicksilver Pro in France to the Hurley Pro at Trestles in California. That's not to say you can't still get a taste of the island surfing from days of old. From the Vans World Cup of Surfing and the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Oahu, to the Fiji Pro and Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti, with Rad Season you can still witness some of the ancient island magic that has made surfing legendary for so many years.