Thoughts About the Birth, “Death,” and Rebirth of Surfing

‘Surfing and Society’ is a course that will deeply explore the history, politics, and development of surfing in America, and beyond. So far, our class has focused on the development and early history of surfing, and for your first Blogpost of the semester you will be asked to do a few (relatively) simple things to get you thinking about the assigned reading for 1/30, and ways in which it connects up to what we did in the previous two classes. For this initial trial run, there are three options for you to choose from, and you should choose two of these prompts and respond to them (with your writing amounting to at least two robust paragraphs overall):

1)  One of the very first things we did on our first day together was define and discuss “the stoke.” For this option, you should apply your notions of “the stoke” to one of our recent readings. It would certainly be sensible to articulate how “the stoke” is seen, articulated, and examined in one of the literary/historical accounts we have read so far (by Captain Cook, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Jack London). But if you would like to apply this premise to a historical event or colonial topic mentioned in ‘The World in the Curl’ instead, that would be fine.  Whatever text or topic you wish to discuss, you should explain where and how “the stoke” is seen, and why this particular reference serves as an important and illuminating example of the early history of surfing.

2) The four historical/literary texts listed above (by Cook, Melville, Twain, and London) are fun and quirky and provide an interesting window into the premodern world of surfing. But there is a darkness lurking beneath the surface when it is realized that they are also products of colonialist expansion and exploitation in Hawaii, and the islands nearby. For this option, then, you should choose one of these works and consider it as a kind of political document, a text about war and peace, kingship and rule, imperialism, xenophobic hatred, and so on. To do so, you should focus on a particular passage where issues of power and authority are quietly at issue. How does your chosen passage bring to the page such notions as violence, religion, hatred, justice, misunderstanding, authority, and/or negotiation? Place the passage specifically within the colonial context of the day, consider its meaning and significance, and by all means free to offer some thoughts about what YOU think about the topic, text, and theme in question.

3) An important intellectual skill is comparison, and in fact one of the things we will do frequently in class is compare ideas, sources, places, and people from the broad culture of surfing. So for the third and final option, you might do some comparing and contrasting and see what comes of it. For example, you might compare and contrast such things as: Christian missionaries vs. Hawaiian religious leaders; native surfers vs. the white settler population; the morals of Polynesians vs. the morals of tourists; the US government vs. Hawaiian kings; surfing in Hawaii in the early twentieth century vs. surfing in California and other mainland locales; and/or premodern surf techniques and ideals vs. the “modern” notions of the sport that arose in the United States. Whatever topics or ideas you choose to compare, your paragraph should articulate some of the notable similarities and differences but, more to the point, what is learned through the comparison. What does your comparison reveal about early surfers and the rise, “death,” and rebirth of surfing?

It will be very interesting to see what you all have to offer in this first Blogpost of the semester!!

30 thoughts on “Thoughts About the Birth, “Death,” and Rebirth of Surfing

  1. 1. “Stoke” is embodied in Jack London’s text. “Stoke” to me is the ultimate feeling you get when you’re doing something, and only comes when you’re doing that one thing. For London his first surfing experience brought him a wave of emotions from fear to joy to unexpectedness to pain to love- which ultimately sparked his “stoke”. Readers can somewhat grasp his “stoke” by his vivid use of imagery throughout his text. He uses descriptive terms and s’entende like, “swiftly he rises through the rushing water” (13), “when a wave crests, I.T gets steeper” (15), “riding looking like ripples” (18). His fascination and description of his emotions exemplifies one of the “stoke” voyagers experienced when surfing. While some were terrified of the ocean, London embraces all of Hawaii’s attractions from the ocean to a serve sun burn. He is also “stoked” when he saves the women but then realizes she does not need saving. His mistake highlights the different perception of cultures that were on Hawaii, and how cultural differences lead can lead to destruction from misunderstandings. However, after he realized the women’s “stoke”, and gets a glimpse of what Hawaiians got “stoke” from, which was being one with the ocean. Readers discover London inherited the women’s stoke as he admits at the end that he is writing about his experience while he lays in bed with an awful sunburn, but cannot wait time return to the ocean. Overall, London experiencing his own “stoke”, and the women’s he gained his first experience and saw a new lifestyle that surfing provided.

    2. I am comparing the reasons and lifestyle behind Hawaiians during the birth of surfing compared to today. First, there was no monetary value involved in surfing during its birth; therefore, more leisure and less stress was involved. However, today, money has become a part of surfing. For example, professional surfers making money comes with winner contests or getting sponsorships; hence, being a good surfer gets you CT wins or sponsorships. For non-professional surfers, surfing materials (like boards) are expensive. Therefore, you need a decent amount of money to buy or rent a board, then costs go up from there for wetsuits wax and etc. Next, Hawaiians would take three months off to surf and enjoy their lives. Today, if one took three months off you would be considered somewhat crazy. Modern cultures are revolved around working, which we saw the Hawaiians eventually got, but during the birth of surfing it was the opposite. When you think about it taking months off to surf makes total sense. No one can predict swells perfectly; therefore, having absolutely no obligations for a certain time would allow surfers to surf wherever the waves are pumping and truly enjoy the “stoke”. However, the biggest similarity is the love for the ocean surfers have. I believe this will never go away. When you love surfing you do have this sense of connectedness to the ocean, and feel one with it. As we read Hawaiians felt that connectedness during the birth of surfing and surfers today always talk about that in interviews or blogs, and I can also personally attest to that. Overall, while the factors surrounding suffering may differ from Hawaiians to today, the ultimate love will always be the same.

  2. 2.) The article I am writing about pertains to “Roughing It” by Mark Twain and his experience with Hawaiin culture. Twain expresses Xenophobia when he witnessed a large company of people bathing in the surf completely naked, hence the name “Surf-Bathing.” Being a Hawaiin tradition, surf-bathing could potentially be the only way these natives baith or the only way they are allowed to baith. Twain disregards their beliefs/practices and labels them as “heathens.” In his piece “Roughing it,” he states, “Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out…” This line represents Xenophobia and ignorance, the people he refers to do not have a multi billion dollar house, they have the ocean. Probably the reason they bathe in the sea…

    3.) Surfing has come a long way since the twentieth century. In early Hawaii, people used wooden boards made of Koa, Willi Willi, or any buoyant wood. Boards ranged from 5 to 15 feet and some weighing in at an astonishing 160 pounds. Boards were shaped with stones and smoothed out with coral. Surfing on a piece of tree was not necessarily easy, they were very hard to maneuver while paddling let alone standing up. Flash forward many years and surf boards are made out of polyurethane or polyester layered with fiberglass sheets. This results in an extremely light board that is easily maneuvered. This shows the rise and rebirth of surfing because Hawaiins came up with the idea to surf a wave, while modern technology carried the torch to innovative surf boards.

  3. 1) “Stoke” is this special feeling that surfers are able to capture once they start catching waves, they are essentially catching the “stoke” too. During our readings we reviewed the excerpt by Jack London. Jack is seen catching the “stoke” when he first tries to emulate the way these native hawaiians glide so effortlessly across the tops of these waves. We see Jack taking notes almost but then he decides it’s time for him to give this royal sport a try. He is described as too be ripping his clothes off so as he can get ready to go surfing, and as a surfer myself, I know the feeling of ripping off your clothes from your mundane life and getting ready to charge some waves. That feeling you get in that moment is the actual embodiment of “stoke”, it’s that rush of adrenaline you get when you see the waves and just know it is time to paddle out and catch some waves.

    2) I am going to compare those surfers who began in Hawaii in the early twentieth to those surfers who happen to be riding in the modern day US. Way back in the early days of surfing the hawaiians had very strict rules that applied to their surfers and other locals. Some of those rules were that surf breaks in which the waves were always big and firing, those breaks were reserved for those deemed worthy either by high ranking hawaiian surfers or by other elite members of the society. Other ideas they adhered to was that they only rode wooden surfboards which were either ‘Olo’ boards which were strictly to be ridden by the chiefs or the noblemen and the commoners and rest of the community rode ‘Alaia’ boards. Hawaiians were also known to either surf in shorts similar to a loin cloth and or surf in the nude. While most people nowadays will surf in boardshorts and or wetsuits. Now if you compare these strict societal rules the early hawaiians followed you can see some similarities in Modern day surfing today. Today you don’t see your traditional wooden surfboard that often anymore. You will mainly see kids and adults with fiberglass surfboards. But even today we still see these almost hierarchy like rules among surfers. I know from personally growing up on an island that the locals still get defensive towards outsiders who try to ride their surf breaks and ultimately end up in our way. That is very similar to hawaiian rules that stated that certain beaches were deemed only for those of high power and or those who possess elite skills. That can be compared to those fights between the hawaiians (Locals) and those white settlers (Outsiders).

  4. 1) “The stoke” is a surfing term that, in simple terms, is used to express happy, pleasant, thrilled, and excited feeling. This sense of feeling can be experienced at all times when it comes to surfing. People can feel “stoked” just thinking about surfing. They can also feel this before, during, and long after surfing. In class we talked about Jack London who wrote “A Royal Sport” which was an excerpt from “The Cruise of the Snark”. The title of this excerpt alone explains the stoke that London felt about surfing. He used the term royal to describe it which is deemed very highly. This excerpt was one of the early accounts of surfing. In this excerpt, Alexander Hume Ford helps Jack London learn how to surf. The stoke is present almost everywhere in the excerpt. From describing the physics of surfing and the waves to talking about Waikiki itself, stoke is present. In the excerpt, he also talks about water and how you must be a strong swimmer to surf which shows the appreciation he has for the surfers and their stoke. On his second day of surf-riding, as he calls it, London is quite proud of himself which reveals a feeling of stoke as well as he had positive views on the art of surfing. This is important and sets the scene for those who read his accounts as it may have inspired them to try surfing for themselves.

    2) Out of all of the literary texts that I read outside of class, the one that stood out the most to me as being fun and quirky, but dark as well was the excerpt from “Roughing It” by Mark Twain. In this excerpt, Twain records his account with some native people who use canoes and use the ocean to thrive and have fun. Twain sees the natives as weird because he is not used to their culture or lifestyle. The specific part of a passage that stood out the most to me stated, “Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along…”. Here, Twain refers to the natives as heathens which is xenophobic and disrespectful. Twain also refers to the natives as irresponsible when they are in canoes which is clearly misunderstood as it takes a lot of skill to use canoes in the manner that they do. In my opinion, his interaction and experience with the natives is acceptable to read as it helped mainstream readers from America see what his account was like. However, I do believe he could have used more respectful words to describe them. I think he makes up for his terming of them when he ends his excerpt with “None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly”. Here, he understands how hard it is and gives them credit for their actions in the ocean as well as their skills in surfing.

  5. 1.) The term stoke can be defined as an excited energy from participating or even the thought of surfing. A surfer gets stoked from the idea of waves because they understand the feeling when they do catch a wave. The World of the Curl uses specific wording to create and represent stoke for the readers. If a reader were to close his eyes and while being read the book, they would feel like they are in the middle of ocean getting ready to catch waves. This is the author;s way of simulating stoke for anyone reading. “The scene unfolded every year for centuries. In late spring, when big south swells began jacking on Waikiki’s reefs, priests at the heiau on Diamond Head flew their kites to signal the surf was up. The best surfers paddled their longest boards to the outer reefs at Kalehuawehe.”(Westwick) This is a section from the first chapter, the imagery gives an understanding about the atmosphere and the importance of surfing in Hawaii.
    2.) In the historic pieces went over in class, there were signs of the native Hawaiians being judged. Through Mark Twain’s piece about the native Hawaiians, before he even has enough time to understand their culture he begins to judge. He calls the canoe they get in irresponsible. Little does he know the native Polynesians are extremely talented in the water. Also, he uses the words heathens to describe them which could be offensive if he is referring to their morals. I think that many people are going to judge a culture that seems different than their own. That even refers today, we see it in today’s world all the time. I do not think the references Twain made were out of hand but they could be seen as offensive to a specific group of people.

  6. 1)In A Royal Sport written by Jack London, London actually experiences the stoke in his short time being in Hawaii and experiences it as he is surfing. Unlike Twain, London actually invested time into learning how to surf and enjoying the beauty of Hawaii rather than negatively critiquing their lifestyle without understanding why they have a love for surfing. In the text it states “It was my second day at surf-riding, and I was quite proud of myself. I stayed out there four hours, and when it was over, I was resolved that on the morrow I’d come in standing up. But that resolution paved a distant place. On the morrow I was in bed. I was not sick, but I was very unhappy, and I was in bed.” Stoke experiences the stoke while out surfing and verbally shows and describes it by saying that he was out surfing for four hours straight. Furthermore, he experiences a ‘Post-Stoke’ depression, showing that he truly did love the feeling of stoke through the act of surfing; stoke meaning blissfully happy, yet pumped and energized to be riding waves while also feeling rooted with nature.

    2)In Surfing in Hawaii by Mark Twain, Twain writing is a product of colonial expansion and it shows through his xenophobic writing against the Hawaiian people. In the text he writes “Each Heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea, then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along” Through this small excerpt it is easy to see that he sees the Hawaiian people as inferior to himself and even barbaric because of their love to surf. To Twain surfing is bizarre and believes that it shouldn’t be practiced because of the dangers he associates with being out in the water.

  7. Derek Kettig
    Surfing blog 1

    1. In the book The World in the Curl by Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul, you can find many examples of stoke throughout the text. One example that really caught my eye was in chapter 2 on page 33. On this page, you will find a feeling of stoke around
    George Freeth. George Freeth was born in Honolulu in 1883, he was the son of an Irish captain and a half Hawaiian mother. George Freeth was really interested in his Hawaiian roots. As a kid, he was always interested in old pictures and paintings of people surfing. When he became a teenager and was gifted a board from his uncle he wasted no time getting wet. He couldn’t get enough of the stoke out in the water and eventually taught himself to become the best surfer on Waikiki. Many accounts in the book say Freeth would spend hours a day in the water. Also, another famous Hawaiian Alexander Hume stated in the text “ There’s something spiritual about Freeth that makes him stand out from the rest.” Freeth’s feeling of stoke must have rubbed off on Hume and could have been a key role in helping these two rebuild the surfing culture in Hawaii.

    3. Surfing has been around for a very long time but still remains popular today. The goal of the sport has not seemed to change much when it comes to paddling out and riding a wave in. On the other hand, like everything else that’s been around for a long time the sport of surfing has evolved over time, but stills keep characteristics from its roots. One obvious change in the sport is the equipment. The majority of surfers don’t paddle out naked on a wooden board like they did in ancient Hawaii. Depending on where you surfers a lot of surfers today decide to wear wet suits to keep themselves warmer in cold water. The wetsuits allow people to surf in cold temperatures people couldn’t before. Also, the boards used nowadays are not all wooden, the majority of them are fiberglass boards and come with multiple fins options to turn and change speeds on the wave. Despite the changes in equipment modern surfers still feel a sense of stoke out in the water like the surfing pioneers felt. This might be the most important comparison between modern and pioneer surfers because this is why many surfers fall in love with the sport like George Freeth and Kelly Slater.

  8. 1. “The Stoke” is defined as excited, pleased, happy, or thrilled. It’s basically a feeling of excitement displayed is multiple different way for the sport of surfing. Such as, when there will be good swell, paddling out at a new spot, trying out a new board or even just surfing with a new person/group. What the stoke means to me though, is getting that perfect wave after being out in the water for hours. It’s the excitement of getting the wave of the day or your best ride after a long day in the water. In Jack London’s text, we see him trying to reciprocate the way the native Hawaiians ride the waves. At first he sits it out but then decided to give it a try for himself. He wanted to see what the stoke was all about.

    3. I’m going to be comparing how the sport of surfing has changed from being a fun community, to being all about the fame. So native Hawaiians used surfing as hobby and or art form. They did in fact have competitions to settle disputes between islanders but for the most part, they just enjoyed gliding across the water and having fun. Since the rise of social media, I personally feel that the surf community and total vibe has changed. As a kid, my friends and I would paddle out and just sit in the water all day until our parents would make us come in. We’d enter local contests for fun and just have a great time. Now, I see these little kids getting dragged around by their parents to competitions in North Carolina, Hawaii, California just to get sponsored. They have personal photographers who travel with them, and their parents run their social media accounts. I see these kids and I just think to myself, ‘theres no way they’re having fun’. Yeah, they’re probably stoked that they’re getting sponsored by huge companies and meeting pro surfers, but their lives are being run by their parents who only care about making their children famous. I’m not sure if this is just a thing from where I’m from, but its just sad to see these kids not have the freedom to just mess around in the water and compete in competitions for fun like my friends and I used too. As long as I was having fun, that’s all my parents cared about.

  9. 1. An example of Being “stoked” is in Captain James Hook reading. But, it is done a little differently he watches someone become “stoked” which in return makes him start to feel it. He explains that he saw a man paddling his canoe out to the water an he watched him search for a swell. Captain Cook says, “this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea. ” He could tell from a far that this man had a look and burst of excitement going through his body as he began to find the swell and ride the waves. Being “stoked” has been a part of surfing for a long time and goes back all the way into the early history parts of surfing. It is very popular among the surfing language and community. Overall being “stoked” is just a rush of adrenaline you get when you are able to have a decent day out on the water and a lot of surfers can experience this just from watching others just like Captain Cook showed us.

    2. I am going to compare premodern surf techniques to “modern” notions of the sport that arose during the rise, “death” and rebirth of surfing. In the early 1880’s surfing went basically extinct and was longer something that was happening until the late 1880s when King Kalakaua brought it back. It began to spread and become more popular across the country, in that time it spread to Europe. There seems to be quite a few of premodern surf techniques and modern day techniques. The surfboard for example was so different then vs now. Then, it was just a heavy big block of wood cut out. Now, when you decide you want to go surfing you are physically fit for your surfboard and it depends on your height and weight. After the rebirth of surfing it became more popular all around the world and became known as a “sport.”

  10. 1. Being “stoked” is a term used in the surfing community to symbolize a rush of joy/excitement. In Mark Twain’s excerpt there is a picture to go along with it. The picture shows native woman catching some waves. The picture captures what Twain saw first hand. The scenery in the image looked beautiful, as well as the native woman. The woman in the picture looked “stoked” to be there. Not only do the woman in the picture look stoked, it made me stoked as well. Seeing what Mark Twain saw with his own eyes is really cool to me.

    3. A comparison worth noting is modern surfing versus surfing in the past. Though there are many similarities, when you look deeper into it the difference start to pop out. For example, modern surfboards have fins and are mainly made with man made materials, while in the olden days they had no fins and were made out of wood. Also, surfing today is mainly recognized as a male sport/pastime, while back in the day it was recognized as a co-ed sport. Some of the best surfers were women. There are way more advancements in surfing today then how it was in earlier days. Another difference worth noting would be the fact that back then surfing was done for more serious reasons then a sport or pastime, instead they surfed as a lifestyle, also for religion, dominance, and sexual reasons. There are similarities between the two time periods as well. For example, the shapes of boards, and the love for the sport.

  11. 1. Stoke is a word used to describe the thrilling feeling surfers embody while riding a wave. While most choose to sit back and watch the waves, others are on a mission to conquer them. Surfing dates back thousands of years and people have been stoked from the beginning, maybe even before they had a term for it. Jack London talks about the feeling of fear yet excitement when approaching the water for the first time but that would soon all be behind him. As he gained confidence he began to describe his beautiful view and the art of the sport he was soon to learn. He was starting to feel the stoke. He mentions that he was writing while dealing with a horrific sunburn, yet all he could think about was getting back out there the next day. For somebody to be so new to surfing yet already so indulged in the culture and stoke, proves the stoke can truly take over and let your mind free while enjoying the waves.
    2. Although all surfers come together to enjoy the sport together, there reasons and motives for surfing are all different. For example, to compare and contrast the morals of native Hawaiians vs tourist of the land, there are endless things that separate these two groups. Hawaiians started surfing to be one with the ocean, mesh with the gods, and enjoy what they believed to be their most vulnerable state. They took the art very seriously and social ranks were determined almost purely by surfing abilities. Where as when Hawaii became known as a tourist spot and a surf capital, the cultural differences began to show. Although all surfers might be in love with the sport and the quick adrenaline rush, nobody is as passionate about surfing as the native Hawaiians. Tourists did not have the true love and passion for the water and the waves and the pure beauty rather than just the sport itself, as the Hawaiians did. As the natives were already upset by the influx of tourism, they also began to feel there one true passion was being disrespected.

  12. 2. Mark Twain’s account (Roughing it) of Hawaii when he visited there is especially interesting to look at now because of the time difference. He uses very choice vocabulary in his writing which can be interpreted much differently in today’s society. Using words such as heathens to describe the locals of Hawaii surfing was completely acceptable for the time and he doesn’t seem to have bad intentions when saying it. Which is very interesting to me, this proper and pampered traveler going to a drastically different environment and documenting his experience almost as if the people of Hawaii are aliens because their way of life was so unheard of and unique. It makes so much sense why conflict started to arise as a result of these documentations. The colonists back home most likely saw this place as a type of paradise, or they were just so appalled by how the people lived there that they wanted it for themselves. The ideas and stereotypes could not be more different between colonists and the people of Hawaii, and conflict always comes from two drastically different views on a subject. Overall this passage pays respect to the locals of Hawaii because of their unusual skills, but it does take little shots at their way of life just because it’s so drastically different. The power of publicity is what ultimately started conflict and continues to fuel it even today

    3. Native surfers and settlers is the most intriguing comparison to me. The natives have such a deep connection with the island, their great ancestors literally crossed the ocean and built Hawaii from the ground up for decades and surfed as much as possible during it. Then when settlers start coming in its as if they’re taking and learning something they didn’t actually earn. This is still noticeable today with local surfers even off the island in today’s society. The connection that is built from surfing in the same place as people you love is like no other, and when someone else comes around they just don’t appreciate it as much, therefore you don’t appreciate their company. Surfing is really just a big line of history that you must respect or you won’t be respected, you really have to “earn your salt” as some people say.

  13. 1. “Stoke” may have various different definitions to each individual, but when it comes to being a reference within the surfing community, everyone can agree on one definition. I have previously learned how to surf this summer, and as I caught my first few waves the feeling was almost instantaneously. It was later in the afternoon at the very common surfing spot named “7th street beach” in Ocean City, New Jersey, the sun was setting, the sky was purple, and the only noise you could hear was the waves breaking. I got up on the wave and I rode it a good distance down the line, and my mind went blank. The only thought in my mind at the time was how at ease and peaceful I felt. During that state of mind I was observing my surroundings and creating this genuine appreciation for the atmosphere around me and the beautiful body of water beneath me. My friend that provided me with the board and relentlessly helped me achieve the milestone of catching my first wave was consistently riding each wave a good distance even though some in my eyes were unethical to ride. The way Jack London wrote about the surfer rising from the water, that looked like a “sea-god” was beyond relatable to myself when I viewed my friend shred the waves left and right. When I read London’s excerpts before he got into his surfing experience, I realized something. London was already experiencing the “Stoke” from just being in that atmosphere and watching the god like surfer perform. He was expressing great details of the waves, even referring to one as a ‘bull-mouthed breaker.” Once he goes on to his story on how he began surfing he referred to surfing as a “royal sport”. London and his description of the sport was made perfectly to illuminate surfing. He gives an immense amount of details on how the atmosphere feels during surfing which is vital to one who has never surfed because it would make one want to try the sport. In all he made an excerpt that is appealing to modern day people that never have surfed in their life because of “Stoke”, environment, motions, and the overall beauty behind the sport and its complexity.

    2. With all the good that comes, unfortunately, bad tends to come as well. Out of the texts we have been going over in class, I feel that Mark Twain with his text “Roughing It” easily shows the underlying dark view point on Hawaii and the natives. Twain arrives in Hawaii and immediately critiqued the natives. He referred to them as “Heathens” and called their canoe “irresponsible looking”, with Twain describing these natives in a xenophobic manner it tends to shed light on issues that the natives commonly had to deal with. I could not imagine how I would have reacted if I were a colonist first stepping foot on unknown land and being greeted by naked locals, but I do know that the way Twain and various others viewed them was in my eyes immoral. Colonists came and took their land, took everything from the natives even their lives with violence. Although there was many mentions on the beauty of the great island, I feel not enough light has been shed in multiple texts on how much hardship was created for the natives to live in their own home.

  14. Stoke, as described by surfers is being excited, happy, or pleased. It often is correlated with the state of flow and connection with nature and the universe that one can feel while surfing. Jack London specifically described this feeling while spending time in Waikiki beach, Hawaii. While at first he focused his attention on the physics and science of the waves and how a surfboard moves along and with the waves he soon began to learn how to participate. When he was finally out in the water being taught how to surf by Mr. Ford, he began to appreciate the waves beyond physics and the personal feelings that come along with it. On page 22, he makes sure to note that he can never be rigid while surfing and one must relax otherwise you will fail. Although he failed often while in the water he learned how to be one with the ocean and currents and was determined to get it right. Even after spending hours surfing his first day and being so sunburned he had blisters he only took one day of rest before returning to the water and surfing again. Throughout his writing you can see his stoke becoming more obvious, especially when he puts away his science and focuses more on actually being in the waves. It is also important to note that even when he was falling off of his board and not catching waves he was still determined and excited to keep trying and that is stoke.

    2)The text I chose to analyze was Captain Cook’s accounts at Matayai Bay, Tahiti and Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii. Captain Cook is the best example for showing imperialism and xenophobic hatred toward the native peoples especially by misunderstanding their religion and beliefs. The most notable of his actions was when he assumed that just because a native man was canoeing away from the direction of his ship, he was stealing. The only time that Cook makes a positive comment about surfing is when this same man he accused of stealing is in his canoe and catches a wave to shore. All other accounts that Cook writes about associate negative feelings towards surfing and does not even take the time to learn the customs of the native people. For example he states that the ocean and their riding is very disgraceful and “scarcely to be credited”. As it turns out, the misunderstanding between Cook and his men with the native people of Hawaii led to violence and death on both sides because neither could understand each other’s beliefs/religion. Cook was definitely just the beginning of the violence and hatred that would soon engulf Hawaii, its people, and their religion as he opened the eyes of Europeans to the beautiful Hawaiian shores.

  15. 2) The passage I have chosen to write about comes from Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”. In this passage on the surface it does not seem as if he is bashing or insulting the natives but it is when you look into the way he is writing the passage you can see the subtle comments. In one not so subtle comment Twain makes, he blatantly refers to the natives as “heathens” in regards to them paddling out to go surf. There is a slight chance he used this word choice in regard to their religious beliefs but that seems unlikely. In another part of the passage he is describing one of their traditional Hawaiian canoes and uses some derogatory wording like “irresponsible” to describe the traditional Hawaiian craftsmanship and enginuity. Overall the passage has a slight undertone of misunderstanding and confusion as he describes the Hawaiian people and culture.

    3) Surfing has always been a massive part of traditional Hawaiian culture that was almost lost at the expense of European and American colonialism. When the first Christian missionaries came to Hawaii they were not enthused by the pastime of surfing and many of the missionaries viewed it as immoral. One of the main reasons was because of the nudity involved with surfing at the time and that it interfered with the missionaries’ time with God. In this time period of colonialism and industrialization of Hawaii, surfing was almost lost to the impact of these white settlers. Since the conversion of Hawaii from its own native religion to Christianity wasn’t really taking off with the natives the missionaries soon began to leave the islands due to their failing cause. It wasn’t till after this that surfing began to resurface and the number of surfers on the Hawaiian islands began to grow in the early 1900’s.

  16. 1) The word “stoke” in the surfing community means a sense of exuberance felt by surfers during and after an excellent surf session, as well as excitement and power from doing an activity you enjoy. I have found more examples of defining the word in readings such as Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”. In the passage from his book, he seems to be enjoying the culture of the natives and not disrespecting who they are as a group. However, it is controversal when he refers to them as “heathens”, but as a sense of humor as the natives paddle out to sea. The word “stoke” comes up in this passage when Twain says the natives “would come whizzing by like a bombshell!” That tells us the natives were having fun in what they were doing, they were enjoying the waters surf. This example serves as a history highlight because it tells the reader how the waves were and how the surfers themselves road the waves.

    2) Surfing has most definetly changed moving forward from the 20th century. Especially in Hawaii. Starting off the most popular way to surf is with a type of board. Early Hawaiian boards were about 15 feet long and could weigh up to 160 lbs. They were made out of different woods such as Koa, or Willi Willi. Today boards are all sizes, weights, and made mostly from polyester and fiber glass. The weight of the boards however, made it hard to functions and ride that perfect wave. Today it is much easier and there are things added to boards to cut through the waves such as fins and also has what’s called a leash to help you not lose your board in the ocean. With new technology this is not only rising off of Hawaii’s culture, but is also a rebirth into what we have learned and how we can improve surf.

  17. 1) the stoke to me is the excitement one feels when faced with something greater than ourselves. In surfing, you get there is a flow to how things work and each motion you make changes your course on the wave. In Mark Twain’s “roughing it” the locals were looked at through a rather xenophobic or even racist lens. I would go as to say his attitude towards the natives and their culture was even the opposite of the meaning of stoke. as said by himself the natives were heathens and any novelty in the landscape is downplayed and made to seem like it wasn’t that impressive. “when this novelty ceased to be a novelty” and ” and when this grew tiresome” are two lines that stood out that made twain seem unenthused for most of his trip to Hawaii.

    3 native surfers vs. the white settler population is a topic that comes up in surf culture whether it’s settlers driving up the cost of living making it so you can’t afford to live in your own land or how the whaling market among others killed the Hawaiians way of life where they had three months off a year to just surf. in surf culture, many names are given to invaders of local land. even here in ocean county, we call visitors shoobies or bennies because they come in droves and dirty our beaches. people would be put to death for stealing waves and now they have foreign invaders not only taking their land resources and time but they also have a vast new population to compete with for waves. the death of ancient surfing ended with the white settlers arrival.

  18. 1. I decided to do some more research on the surfing term “stoke”. After doing some digging, I found an intersting excerpt from According to, “the word ‘stoke’ goes way back into old English. In old English, the work “stoc” meant a place. You would often hear this within cities and villages such as Stoke-on-Trent, Stoke Bishop, etc.” I believe that when surfing became a big California sport, the word stoke had a change in meaning. The meaning of stoke within the California region would mean one is hyped or excited or invigorated by the ocean and its natural beauty.

    3. I personally feel that the best comparison for surfing is the Hawaiian Surfers VS Californian Surfers. There are very similarities and differences between the two. The Hawaiian surfers were the ones who practically invented surfing. The Hawaiians surfed on boards that they created by hand which obviously takes a lot of work. They also had numerous board sizes that have migrated into regular surfboards that you will see on the market. As well as these oversized boards that you most likely won’t see on the market today. Hawaiian surfers are also super conscious of the earth. They believe the ocean is a soul. The Californian surfers are similar to the Hawaiians. They care about the earth and respect the natural beauty of the ocean. One main difference is boards. Californian surfers most likely buy their boards from today’s present surfboard market. Also, the way of life for the Californian surfer is completely different than how the Hawaiians lived. Californian surfers love the sport and hobby. It has developed into a way of life including clothing, slang/language, and means of living every day. These two do lead up to the rebirth of surfing. The Californians definitely made into a way of life that it was never like before with the Hawaiians. The Hawaiians treated surfing as a spiritual notion with the natural beauty of the ocean.

  19. 1. Having “The Stoke” in surfing context expresses many similar feelings, these feelings consists of happiness and excitement. Being stoked is one of the best feelings in the world, whether its waiting for the next set of waves to roll through or something as simple as getting an A on a quiz. One example from the text to show someone being stoked is from Jack London. After meeting the locals of Hawaii London feels the stoke when he tries to surf along side the native surfers. Although he doesn’t succeed completely, he still feels the stoke and same excitement as the natives did when they surfed.
    2. When it comes to the basics of surfing not much has changed. You paddle out to the sets of waves and ride them back in on a surfboard, and complete this over and over. Although almost everything else around this main concept has changes since the discovery of surfing in Hawaii. Surfing is no longer done on flat finless boards, with new technology and human advancement we now use fiber-glass boards, all shapes and sizes to shred the gnar with. Long ago, native surfers had nothing to cover their bodies with in the water so most of the time they would surf naked along side of each other, we know now that since wetsuits have been invented in the 1950s by Hugh Bradner they are extremely popular among surfers. Although many things around the concept of surfing have changed, there will never be any change to the stoke you feel during surfing itself.

  20. 1. The term “the stoke” has been used in all of the passages that we have read so far. As we talked about it in class, the stoke is a feeling of excitement and anticipation of big waves and surfing in general. Anyone who has tried surfing, or has any interest in waves has felt this feeling before. Not only have I experienced this, but so has Jack London. His passage was my favorite one read so far. He was very intrigued with the art of surf-riding, and even more so determined to master it. I loved the fact that he went out there with all of the little groms and took part in their culture. I also thought it was amazing that he went out to the big waves on his second day of being able to control the board. The first time we saw Jack stoked was when he saw the “brown mercury man” riding big waves as if it was nothing. This was his first encounter of the stoke. He was so stoked that he had to go out there and try it himself. The other time that we saw him with this feeling was when he had to stay home after his big day of catching the larger waves. He was left sunburned so badly that he had to stay in bed all day. He was depressed about not being able to go out there and practice, and he later stated that he would not leave the island until he could stand up on the big waves. This right here is the definition of the stoke.

    3. When you compare the Polynesians to any other tourist group of people, you can see a very big difference in their ways of life. Whether it is their beliefs, morals, hobbies, location, food, or literally anything else, comparing them to anybody else will almost be a complete opposite to them. For example, when any of the tourists wrote about their encounters with the natives, they were completely shocked. They believe in sharing with everyone. Compare that to an american, and you’ll see that they are greedy or even just not used to that way of life. When London and Twain first see surfers, they are astonished. They had never seen anything like that before and were interested. Looking at the different beliefs, you have the Polynesians that were very spiritual with the world they lived in. They had something called Kapu, which was a set of rules and even laws on how to behave while living on those islands. They were some of the most respectful group of people that lived during that time, and we were the complete opposite. We invaded, killed, and destroyed their land, people, and traditions. We took everything they had for granted and without respect. If I was an early surfer in the midst of the tourists, I would not be happy. My home would have been invaded, and my normal day to day life would change for the worst. Surfing overall changed dramatically when the first tourist arrived on their islands. I feel terrible about what we did to their culture, and how we totally changed their meaning of surfing.

  21. 1) Stoke has many different meanings for many different people. On the first day of class we watched several different videos of people explaining what the meaning of stoke is to them. Some said that it was almost a feeling of excitement, however other people explained the meaning of stoke as a feeling that connects you to nature and your surroundings. When Jack London visited the Hawaiian islands he discovered the Hawaiian past time and lifestyle; surfing. He was amazed by it, when he attempted surfing he was only able to get up onto his knees. He wrote in his journal that he would attempt to surf again tomorrow. Jack London was a successful American author who had no experience or contact with surfing, for him to be that excited about surfing, to me Jack London saw “the stoke”.

    2) In the journals of the early travelers who visited the Hawaiian Islands made observations of the Hawaiian people and culture. While some of the journal entries are positive like those from Jack London, others are are quite dark and paint the hawaiian people as weak and not civilized. In the end however Hawaii was colonized and lost some of its culture such as kapu. However if it was not for these early depictions of the Hawaiian people maybe the islands and its people would still have their culture and their beloved islands.

  22. 1.) To be “stoked” is the feeling of excitement and the rush of adrenaline a surfer gets when he/she catches a big wave. It is very popular among the surfing language and community. A lot of surfers can experience this just from watching others, just like Jack London showed us. In Jack London’s passage, was very fascinated with the art of surf-riding. He was determined to master the sport. He went out to the big waves on his second day of being able to control the board. The first time Jack was stoked was when he saw the “brown mercury man” riding big waves so effortlessly. He was so stoked that he had to go out there and try it himself.

    2.) I am going to be comparing surfing today compared to surfing decades ago. Early boards were extremely long and heavy. They were made out of different woods which tended to soak up water when wet. This made the board heavy. The weight of the board made it difficult to navigate through the water. Today, boards vary in size and weight and are made primarily from polyester. Boards today are more efficient and make it much easier to move through the water. Moreover, back then surfing was a male-dominated activity but now women can now prove themselves just as strong as men. Furthermore, nowadays, the typical surfer stereotype is much different than a few decades ago. Professional surfers are now healthy and presentable individuals who travel the world to ride the best waves for money. They used to perpetuate early Hawaiian values such as spirituality and freedom, and be more nomadic. Surfers continue to push boundaries and set new standards. Surfing will continue to grow, change its direction and reinvent itself just like it has been over the years.

    • I think Kayla gave a good point of view of feeling “the stoke”. You don’t need to be out in the water riding waves to feel “the stoke”. You can feel it just by watching someone else surf it wants to make you get up and go surf too.

  23. 1.) Stoke is a feeling of excitement that you get when you are catching waves. People of Hawaii have been getting “stoked” before we even knew they existed. As seen in Jack London’s first time surfing he experienced the stoke first hand. He said that he will never forget his first wave. “I heard the crest of the wave hissing and churning, and then my board lifted and flung forward” (23). He did not know what was happening for a minute. He was out there for hours and made it his mission to come back the next day to stand. It doesn’t matter if it is your first time surfing or your 100th you can still be “stoked”.

    2.) Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” is a very xenophobic piece of writing. He had no sense of the way of life in Hawaii and thought it was weird. He stated that “the native canoe is an irresponsible looking contrivice”. He referred to the natives as heathens and had no regard for the culture there. He saw everyone surf-bathing there and tried it once but it was not for him. He said he made a failure of himself and did not have a self connection with the ocean.

  24. 1). Much of what one sees with surfing through various viewpoints that being in class, in real life or through video documentaries is that one sense of “stoke” that gets described as a strong emotion or tendency when the surfer is put into their own world at when at sea. This sense of calmness, excitement, and majestic like feelings overwhelm the individual when seeing certain types of wave systems occurring making the surfer motivated to infect ride the wave at hand. Some of the different types of stoke come from historical knowledge read in the book, “The World In The Curl.”

    One reference is in chapter one of the, “The World In The Curl” in this case the,“Loosend Lehua”, “was named after the a handsome younge man who surfed Waikiki at the same time as the queen and at the queens request fave her his lehua lei” by author Peter Westwick and Peter Neushal. Imagine the sense of stoke that that man had to be able to have the courage enabling him to make that kind of gesture to a royal queen, knowing that it could have costed his life. Learning about stoke in class was pretty tight due to no prior knowledge of the word and what it really meant. After understanding the history and nature of the word, one can say some of there knowledge being learned is making one stoked to learn how to surf.

    Works Cited

    Westwick, Peter. Neushul, Peter. “The World In The Curl” Crown,

    2) From reading the two different account of one, Mark Twain and two Jack London one can see the biggest comparison between the two, from Mark Twain’s viewpoint he looks at the native Hawaiians as barbaric and uses his word in a context to describe them as talking down about their way of life. On the other hand Jack London sees the native Hawaiians from the opposite view point with a willingness to want to learn. That being said, he is way more descriptive of everything around him and really makes the reader want to read more. It’s funny on how he was trying to surf being that he weighs one hundred and sixty five pounds and the surfboard by itself weighs in at seventy five pounds. Imagine trying to surf on that. After failing numerous times he still got right back up and continued to learn.

  25. 1.Stoke can be defined as many things and it all depends on who you ask & their experience with it. For many, it is a freeing emotion of pure bliss, and for other’s it is seen as a way of life or goal. In the excerpt “A Royal Sport” by Jack London, he witnesses natives of Hawaii surfing, or in his words, “surf-riding”. From his vivid & exciting descriptions of watching the natives, one can argue that in that moment, London was already experiencing stoke just from watching & being surrounded by the culture of surfing. So much so that he tries to give it a go himself. While surfing, he stays out for hours and so distracted by the water that he doesn’t realize the sunburn he is receiving. He exclaims “I shall be out in that wonderful water” and is upset that he can not get back outside because of his burns. This can be him missing the stoke of surfing without even knowing what he is missing.

    2.When Mark Twain came to Hawaii, one can assume, he had little knowledge or experience in a “beach & surf” type of culture. Unlike London’s writings of excitement and involvement in the culture, Twain seems to take more of a bystander approach and breaks down how odd & abnormal the culture of surfing is. He explained the surfers as “Beastly Porpoises” which is harsher terms than London who compares them to gods. He also goes on to refer to them as “heathens” meaning he views them as people who lack morals and principles. Although he doesn’t relay his hatred or uncomfortableness directly, through analyzation of his text, you can tell that he views himself as higher and they are below him in class. With such a welcoming culture, the hatred for the natives can really only be attributed to a poor understanding of the Hawaiian’s culture and way of life.

  26. 1.”Stoke” is very different to all sort of people. It has been in pretty much every reading we have read to this point. “Stoke” is a feeling of excitement one gets when catching the waves Some people see or feel the stoke and others do not. For example Mark Twain who we all know was a very famous american author in his day did not really feel the stoke because he was not really into all the surfing vibes. Meanwhile Jack London loved it and said he vow to go out the next day even though he wiped out and fell and also got extremely sunburnt. He was so fascinated by the sport so therefore we know Jack London felt the stoke in the waves.

    2. The passages we have looked at so far in class have been vastly different. Some have a very positive vibe and nothing but very nice things to say about the hawaiians but there are some that do not fit this at all. I would like to look at Mark Twain’s “Roughing it” because this one kinda lies right in the middle. Mark Twain does not really insult the people of Hawaii and he doesn’t really hate on the culture of Hawaii but he does leave some harsh comments in his writing which would probably not go over too well in today’s world. He refers to the native people as ” heathens” when they paddle out to surf. It is not very likely but many people Twain use the term in regards to the people’s religious beliefs. He also uses the term “irresponsible” when talking about the hawaiian people’s craftsmanship which once again would probably not go over too well in today’s world. Many judge Twain’s passage very differently but in the end I believe that it is a very misunderstood passage and Mark Twain had no ill intentions when talking about the Hawaiian people and their culture.

  27. 1. Jack London definitely feels “the stoke” in his piece when he is able to get up onto his knees while on a board. After his surfing experience Jack London calls surfing a “royal sport” which shows his admiration for surfing and his new found love for riding the waves. Another example that shows how Jack London was feeling “the stoke came on his second day of surfing. London wrote that he was “chiefly conscious of ecstatic bliss” when he realized that he “caught” the wave and was riding at the top of it. Jack London experiencing “the stoke” is the biggest difference between his Hawaiian experience and Mark Twain’s and is probably the biggest reason why London looked to the native Hawaiian’s as “gods” when they surfed while Twain saw them as heathens.

    2. Mark Twain’s writing definitely acts as a political document to make American readers back home see native Hawaiians in a very negative light. The biggest in your face remark Twain writes is at the end of his piece when he calls the native Hawaiians “heathens”. Twain calls the natives this because he knows his readers who are Christian will see the natives in a barbaric light because they are not also Christian. Also, while Twain is riding in the canoe with the natives Hawaiians he gives unsatisfactory remarks about the natives technology which adds to his overall view that the native Hawaiians are lesser beings than the white Americans he knows back home. Twain’s piece personally doesn’t feel like it does a good job at describing what the native Hawaiians and surfing is actually like and if Twain did give an accurate description, with the amount of influence he had over American readers, some Americans may have seen the Hawaiians in a more positive light.

  28. 1. Stoke, to me, is the feeling that you get when you’re on your feet flying down the line and nothing else is crosses your mind. You are so focused in that moment. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when everything goes right in a session. Jack London feels stoke when he gets to his knees for the first time on his board. That rush of chasing a wave and then harnessing it’s energy to get a ride it all the way to the beach is what excites him.
    2. It seemed like Mark Twain really wasn’t familiar with the beach culture from that time period. He describes the local Hawaiians as barbaric. I think if he spent more time in the culture he would understand it better. On the other hand London seemed more positive with his experience. He seemed to value the culture a bit more than Twain.

  29. 1) The word ‘Stoke’ oftentimes seems to be difficult to explain by many who experience it. Stoke is essentially an extreme feeling of excitement, peace, and pleasure that comes from doing something enjoyable. For people who engage in surfing, this often comes when they catch a nice wave, or even just thinking about surfing. For the application of my notion of “the stoke,” I will be referencing Jack London’s “A Royal Sport.” The title alone shows London’s positive feelings regarding the sport. London experienced many different feelings throughout his first surfing experience. He describes waves as “white battalions of the infinite army of the sea,” showing his potential fear of what he is about to engage in. He describes surfers as “swiftly he rises through the rushing water,” using descriptive terms to show he may in fact be “stoked.” In London’s description of surfing, the waves, and even the beach of Waikiki his account demonstrates the excitement and pleasure one associates with “the stoke.” His proud feelings after learning to surf exemplifies “the stoke.” This is an important and illuminating example of the early history of surfing because it shows that the feeling of “stoke” has existed ever since surfing was conceived.

    2) Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” shows clear judgement of Hawaiians and their ways. Despite their extreme knowledge and prowess when it comes to the ocean, Twain negatively judges a canoe in which he is given a tour and refers to it as “irresponsible.” Native Hawaiians are also referred to as “heathens.” This shows a clear predisposition of people to judge other cultures that they do not have a full understanding of. A certain level of hatred for other cultures that are not our own is certainly brought to light in Twain’s writing. This may have been more common at the time the document was constructed, as there was and still is tension between Native Hawaiians and anyone who is a potential threat to their lifestyle.

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