The roots of surfing reach back to the early Pacific islands when the ancestors of Polynesians and others started exploring the ocean and islands around them. While there is no specific date as to when the first wave was ever surfed, it is generally known that by the 1700s, Hawaiians had begun to amaze foreign sailors and explorers with their wave-riding skills.
Surfing continued to develop in Hawaii and gained international importance in the 1900’s when the famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku won the gold medal for swimming in the 1912 Olympic Games. Within the context of public relations, an exhibition tour was organized throughout the world, which enabled many countries to be exposed to surfing. As a result, surfing grew in popularity, and in 1964 during the first World Surfing Championships near Sydney, Australia, the ISF (International Surfing Federation) was created, with Eduardo Arena elected as President. This association gathered all the surfing nations together and began organizing world championships every other year. In November 1976, in Hawaii, the ISF gave way to the ISA (International Surfing Association).
To this day. the ISA is the world’s governing authority for surfing and all its waveriding sports, including SUP, Paddleboard, bodyboard, kneeboard, longboard, tandem, skimboard and bodysurf. The ISA governs these sports and works for their development in its member nations and the establishment of the sport of surfing in new places.
As of 2008, the ISA holds the annual World Surfing Games open to the official National Surfing Teams of the ISA’s member nations. Historically, the World Surfing Games has granted to its winners the title of “World Champion”. The ISA World Surfing Games is also one of the largest events in competitive surfing.
The first year in which the World Surfing Games included a Juniors division was 1980 in Biarritz, France, won by legendary surfer Tom Curren. With the continuing growth of surfing worldwide, as well as in junior surfing performance and participation, in 2002 the ISA wisely decided to hold the Junior division of the World Surfing Games in its very own annual event, separate from the World Surfing Games. The former Junior division of the World Surfing Games, along with what used to be the annual Quiksilver ISA World Grommet titles, was consolidated into a new event, the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, which was first hosted in 2003 in South Africa.
Since 1996, the Sands of the World Ceremony have been held during the Opening Ceremony of the World Surfing Games, the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship and the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, to symbolize the true fraternal spirit that bonds together all members of the Surfing Tribe. The union of the countries of the world in this Ceremony is symbolized through the mixing of the sands from the shores of all participating delegations, showcasing the ISA hopes for a peaceful world.
The ISA will continue to promote its World Championship events as the true “Olympics” of surfing. With gold, silver, bronze and copper medals awarded, the athletes will be competing for the honor to represent their country and national colors, in the true nature of surfings aloha spirit and fair play.