Evolution Of The Surfboard: A to Z History Of The Surfboard


Surfing has gone through major changes to get its iconic features. To gain a better understanding of the process, let’s explore the evolution of the surfboard.  It may be hard to imagine, but a classic surfboard has developed from a 77-pound heavy wooden board without a rocker or a fin. 

Thanks to many new materials, today’s surfboards are much lighter and easier to maneuver. This transformation has secured it a safe spot among the most popular water sports. But, it wasn’t always like that. Keep reading to find out more about the history of the surfboard and exactly how it evolved from an extremely heavy board.

Complete History of the Surfboard

Solid Surfboards 

Solid surfboards are made out of one piece of solid material – usually wood. These kinds of surfboards have been used since ancient times. The great English explorer Captain Cook recorded its use during his visit to Hawaii in 1777. It turns out that his diary is the very beginning of the evolution of the surfboard. Imagine surfing without a surfing wetsuit!

Depending on the location, people used different kinds of wood to make solid boards. For example, redwood was the most commonly used in California. The weight of the solid surfboard makes it more difficult to float.

Solid surfboards were made to be anywhere from 10-20 feet long as well as extremely heavy. The starting weight was around 77 lbs, but it actually went up to 200 lbs. This also means that you had to be in very good shape to even lift your board!

Once you managed to get into the ocean, there was another problem – old boards did not have a fin or a rocker. This means they could only be navigated in a straight line. This type of surfboard was very much in use until the late 1930s.

Hollow Surfboards

Hollow surfboards were made in an attempt to reduce the weight of the solid board. They were invented by Tom Blake in 1926 and were in use until the late 1940s. He completely transformed surfing by making it much easier to navigate the board. 

Hollow surfboards were much lighter than the solid ones, weighing around 44 lbs. New techniques and materials made it possible to use marine plywood instead of heavy wood as well as waterproof glues. However, there was still no surf wax. The wooden framework was covered with a layer of plywood and then varnished. However, the shape wasn’t changed so the boards still didn’t perform well.

Modern Surfboards

New inventions in the scientific field brought the most noticeable changes. Modern surfboards were created in the 1940s, thanks to the introduction of fiberglass. The result was strong, waterproof, and light surfboards with a fin and a rocker – a true transformation in the evolution of the surfboard.

Balsa wood, which is a very light kind of wood, was used as a core and then laminated with a thin layer of fiberglass. Later, balsa got replaced with polyurethane foam, which is what we still use today. Thanks to its consistency, it is much easier to shape as well as lighter.

Today’s Surfboards

Even though the design of the modern surfboard is the standard, surfboards are constantly being experimented with. You can ride a 12 ft gun, a 6ft twin fin, and everything in between. Up until 2006, most surfboards were made according to the modern surfboard design. 

In 2006, Clark Foam, the biggest polyurethane foam manufacturer stopped working. This created a big gap that had to be filled, so people turned towards exploring new techniques and materials. Many of today’s boards are made with a polypropylene deck, hard bottom, and a foam core. Their popularity has been increasing in recent years as they are one of the best surfboards for beginners



Q: When was the First Surfboard Made?


The earliest recorded surfboard was used in 1777, but it looked much different from the boards we have today. It was made from a solid material  and it was extremely heavy as well as much longer than today’s boards. The first modified version was made in 1926 by Tom Blake, who made it much lighter and easier to navigate. 

Q: When was the First Fiberglass Surfboard Made?


The first fiberglass surfboard was made in 1946 by Pete Peterson. It had a plastic mold that was hollow, as well as a redwood stinger. This piece of wood ran down the center of the board and was sealed using fiberglass tape.

Q: What was the First Surfboard Made Out of?


The first surfboard was made out of extremely heavy wood. The type of wood depended on the region. For example, redwood was the most commonly used wood in California. The original surfboard was a long and heavy square block that doesn’t resemble today’s design.

Q: What were Surfboards Made of in the 1960?


The surfboards in the 1960s were made of fiberglass and polyurethane. The advancement of technology made it possible to experiment with new materials and techniques. During this time, the most popular model was the longboard which was no longer made from balsa. 

Q: Who is the Oldest Surfer?


Barry Mcguigan, also known as Magoo, was the oldest competitive surfer. He died in 2014 when he was 85 years old! On the other hand, the oldest recorded surf photo is more than 120 years old! It was taken in Hawaii in the early 1890s.  

Globo Surf Overview

It is hard to imagine a surfing session without your favorite surf gadgets and gear. It is even harder to imagine surfing without a rocker or a fin! But, that’s exactly what was going on in the early day of the history of the surfboard.

The earliest surfboards were extremely heavy and made from solid material. Fast forward a few hundred years later, surfing is one of the most popular water sports that utilize a light board that is easy to navigate.

More Surf Reviews:

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!