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Surfing is a popular recreational activity and sport in which individuals are propelled through the water by the force of waves, whilst standing on wooden, fiberglass or foam boards.

Originally developed by Hawaiian islanders, the sport spread in the 19th century to the USA and Australia, where heavy timber "malibu" boards were ridden directly towards beaches. However, the sport exploded in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, when cheaper, more maneuverable, and lighter boards made of fiberglass and foam became available and the teenaged baby boomers headed to the beach in droves to enjoy the maneuverability and stunts made possible by the new boards. The sport has spread to most places where waves of sufficient size and the right shape appear, including France, Brazil, South Africa, and many island states. wetsuits are usually worn in to keep surfers warm in colder weather. Other surfing equipment includes board leashes, used to keep a surfer's board from washing to shore after a 'wipeout', wax and/or traction pads, used to keep a surfers feet from slipping of the deck of the board, interchangeable skegs (fins on the underside of the board designed to keep the board moving forward in a controlled manner)and of course in warmer climates the surf trunk or board short.

Competitive surfing is a comparison sport where riders, competing in pairs or small groups, are allocated a certain amount of time to ride waves and perform tricks (including maneuvering back and forth on the wave, riding the very top of the wave, and, if the surf conditions allow it, allow the wave to curl over the top of them forming a "tube" with the rider in the middle) which are then judged according to their difficulty and how competently the maneuvers are executed. There is a professional surfing world championship series held annually at surf beaches around the world.

A non-competitive adventure activity involving riding the biggest waves possible (known as "rhino hunting") is also popular with some surfers. Big-wave surfing has been revolutionised with the involvement of jetskis to tow the riders out to a position where they can catch previously unrideable waves. This spectacular activity is extremely popular with television crews, but because such waves rarely occur in heavily populated regions few spectators see such events directly.

Popular surfing areas include:

-Much of the coast of Southern California from Half Moon Bay south - one of the most revered and dangerous spots being Maverick's.

-Most of Hawaii, especially the North Shore of Oahu.

-Anywhere else waves hit the shore. Many surfers are seen as territorial, hence the expression locals only; or as the rock group The Surf Punks put it, "my beach, my wave, my girl, so f--- you!.

Surfing Culture

Surfing is often viewed as less of a sports activity, and more of a lifestyle. The movie Endless Summer glorified surfing in a round the world search for the perfect wave; The Ventures, The Surfaris ("Wipeout!") and other surf rock bands melded surfing with rock and roll to create surf rock and other surf music (True surfers don't acknowledge the Beach Boys as surf music - Surfin' USA notwithstanding). Surfing culture can be seen in their slang - gremmies, the Big Kahuna, the woody, waxing my stick, the green room, etc.

Surfing Magazine, founded in the 1960's when surfing first gained popularity with teenagers, used to say that if they were hard at work and someone yelled "Surf's up!" the office would suddenly be empty.