Considerations on the Birth, “Death,” and Rebirth of Surfing

‘Surfing & Society’ is an H-designated course that will deeply explore the history, politics, and development of surfing in America, and beyond. During our first several class meetings, our course 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 Tuesday, February 2, and to explore certain ways in which it connects up to what we did in the first week of class. 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 ideas about “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 totally 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 Polynesian islands nearby. For this option, then, you should choose one of these texts 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 address these issues, your response should focus on a particular passage where issues of power and authority are subtly 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 feel 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 and history of surfing. So for the third and final option for this Blogpost, 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?

Thanks for your efforts, gang – I’m looking forward to seeing what you all come up with for this first Blogpost of the semester!!

21 thoughts on “Considerations on the Birth, “Death,” and Rebirth of Surfing

  1. 1. The stoke can be seen throughout all of the readings many times. In Herman Melville’s passage, he talks about how the people of Ohonoo love to surf. Melville talks about how they “most delight to gambol in the surf”, and I believe that it what the stoke is. Feeling stoked is feeling alive while surfing, it’s like being in the zone. When the people of Ohonoo surfed, they felt alive during surfing as well. He talks about how they race along a watery wall, and how they wait to be snatched up by the wave. This is what feeling stoked is, riding the wave and racing alongside it.

    In Captain Cook’s passage, he talks about how the surfers are fearless against the waves. He talks about how the waves that would make regular people terrified, but the surfers love them. This is them feeling stoked. They ride the waves that most people would fear to go near, because for them it is a way to have fun. He describes the sport in detail, talking about how they look for certain waves to ride, and how smaller waves are not as good as the larger ones. He describes feeling stoked throughout, and shows a good concept of the early days of surfing. Cook’s passage not only describe how the natives felt stoked, but also gave a good insight to the sport itself.

    3. One comparison that could be made about surfing is the modern vs. ancient forms of surfing. Throughout the years, the sport of surfing has not change much itself. People still look for the biggest waves to ride, to get the feeling of stoked. In ancient times, surfing was used as a way to find a mate, which could still be true to this day. Both males and females can surf, and they can surf together, which is typically unusual for a sport. Typically, sports are separated by gender, but in surfing everyone does it together. The whole idea that anyone can surf still holds true to this day. In ancient times, it was used as a leisure activity that everyone took part in, no matter gender or role on the island. This is still true today, anyone can join in the sport no matter what they do outside of surfing. Overall, modern and ancient surfing is not so different.

    Another comparison that could be made about surfing is the native surfers of Hawaii vs. the white settlers. Native Hawaiian surfers were all about feeling stoked, and allowing anyone to join in with their sport no matter who they were. White settlers were big into government and control, and taking over the land. After the Hawaiians stole from the white settler’s ships, there was a battle between the two groups. The white settlers made it out to seem like the Hawaiians were savages, when in reality the white settlers were the one’s who invaded their land. While they are different in that sense, there are some similarities between the two groups. For example, the native surfers were constantly leaving their island to find new islands to inhabit. Similarly, the white settlers left their own land to find new land to colonize. Both groups were going out to discover new land to live on.

  2. 1)One of the first people discussed in class about their view of surfing was Captain Cook. Captain Cook’s lieutenant was believed to be the one who took down notes and had records of the first surf. In December in 1777 in Matavai Bay, Cook observed a native paddling out on his board and waiting for the perfect wave. The native then caught the wave in which Cook describes saying “this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea” (pg. 4). In modern times this “most supreme pleasure” is equivalent to the common word stoked.
    By definition stoked means excited or euphoric and in surf culture, it is used frequently. In early times though that description Cook uses to describe the native catching the wave is showing that the native himself was happy or stoked to have caught that way. Further down in the expert stoked is also being mentioned. In the text, Cook writes “two or three natives came up who seemed to share his felicity” (pg.4). While also writing that when many natives were out surfing when there was a favorable swell they would all call out to each other because of the perfect wave. The native who was out surfing during that particular time were stoked also when catching a favorable wave.

    3) In the book “The World in a Curl” surfing was a major part of the Hawaiian culture. Surfing was a royalty sport in which everyone could do and depending on the type of board it represented who was a royal and who was not. With this it showed their political status. Surfing was a place of courtship, where men and women could meet since they were not allowed to work together or even eat together. It was also a part of their religion. Hawaiians believed they were born from the ocean and prayed before they surf, ate, or hunted. Surfing was so important to their culture that they would take a quarter of the year off just to surf. During this time natives were forbidden to work which brought them pleasure and were in a relaxed environment all the time. Hawaii was a sanctuary to the natives. They didn’t have to worry about food because the environment was a great place to grow crops because it was warm all year long. The ocean too was nearby to fish and had plenty of them too. When the colonists came to Hawaii they believed that it was paradise. It was sunny and warm all the time in which they didn’t need to worry about whether or not they could survive in these temperatures not to mention the ample amount of food on the island. The colonist also enjoyed the fact that they got to meet many women.
    When the colonist came to Hawaii they thought it was unusual to see naked men and women on these boards that floated on the ocean. Back where the colonists were from both men and women were fully clothed and did not look like savages. This was the first time they saw the action of surfing. Depending on who was observing the native it was on two totally different spectrums. One of which was something that was weird and one that was beautiful when a native would catch a wave. Many did not understand the purpose of surfing and thought that they needed to focus more on their economy and less on silly things like surfing. Colonists were more focused on making money rather than relaxing and catching a wave.
    This takes into account the rise, death, and rebirth of surfing. Before the colonist came surfing was occurring all the time on the island and enjoyed it. Many would create these competitions or games which was a major festival in Hawaii each year. This brought many of the natives together to have some fun. Many natives would gamble on these games with either their livestock, canoes or their own personal freedom. Like previously mentioned they would take a quarter of the year to just surf which showed how dedicated they were to surfing. When the colonist came though that all changed. Now colonists made the natives go back to work and now for a majority of the year which meant there was less time for surfing. Many natives were out working for the colonist either gathering sandalwood or other products colonist needed. Colonists wanted to make money and with Hawaii being one of the main places to trade they could start an economy. Which trading things from different countries many of those people brought diseases over which killed many of the natives. Which meant there were fewer people out surfing, but the rebirth of surfing came from Jack London who wrote the best description of surfing which then moved to Southern California when it came into these magazines women would read. Then the surf culture in Southern California began to flourish.

  3. The idea of being “stoked” means to be excited or to be going through thorough enjoyment of something. “The stoke” is seen in chapter one of “The World in the Curl” while learning about the story of Captain Cook. When the Caption and his crew arrived in Hawaii, they were greeted by the natives and saw their peoples surfing the waves fearlessly and having fun while doing it. The example of stoke I found was on page 14 and says “Big waves struck fear in Western sailors, who tried to avoid them; Hawaiians viewed the same waves as a playground and sought them out for fun… we saw with astonishment young boys & Girls about 9 or ten years of age playing amid such tempestuous waves…” To me, this shows that surfing, as well as just being in the water, was a big part of the Hawaiian’s lives. Surfing was seen as something necessary to all ages and walks of their society’s as seen by the fact that the small children were taking part as well. The Western sailors saw this and were perplexed by the new and mysterious activities that they had never even imagined they would come across. It was weird to them how anyone could enjoy life in the water as much as the Hawaiians did, and how “stoked” and happy they were to be surfing and playing in the water.
    The passage I chose to display a power and authority issue is the same passage. Captain Cook, when he arrived to the Hawaiian islands, was greeted with people who were culturally very different. When it comes down to it, it was all down to a simple misunderstanding between the two very different groups of people. The Hawaiians lived in a society where everything was shared throughout the community, and Cook came from a place that valued personal belongings. I feel that if the two sides simply understood each other, violence would have never occurred, or would have been pushed off very far. In terms of how those who lived during this time period saw the encounter between Captain Cook and the Hawaiian natives, many likely would have been quick to deem the Hawaiians as hostile and dangerous. In my opinion, this lead to even faster exploitation of the Hawaiian islands and its people.

  4. 1) Stoked simply means excited or joyful in surf culture. In Captain Cook’s writing when he first witnessed the Hawaiian people surfing, he describes the term when the natives catching the wave showed a happy or fearless emotion when catching the wave. Many people would fear riding the waves they attempt, but for them it is enjoyable and fun. When they were out in the water and the “perfect wave” was spotted they would call out each other because it was a favorable swell. Cook described the natural feeling among the natives as being stoked and passionate when surfing. The term can be applied when Cook says a native man felt “the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea” (p. 4). Cook continued to describe the way of the Hawaiian surf culture and how it was so important in their lives. It was a connection to the sea and gave the people a special feeling. A feeling that can be coined the name, “stoked”.

    2) In Captain Cooks’ excerpt from “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”, Cook recalls what he discovered when he discovered the natives at Tahiti’s Matavi Point. In this writing, Cook discusses the early forms of surfing and the lifestyle of the natural inhabitants of the land. After reading the excerpt it can be seen that there are some important topics to discuss outside of just early forms of surfing. When Cook and the British found the islands of Tahiti and Hawaii, they immediately began settling and claiming land which can be noted as imperialism. At first the natives were fascinated by the British ships and welcomed the newcomers. Eventually the Polynesian natives were forced to give their land and resources to the British conquerors. Records say that when a native took a tool from the British ship, the relationship was destroyed and eventually led to violence, leading to the death of Cook and many Polynesians. It is imperialistic to take the land and natural resources from natives and attack them if they take something from you. Also, The Polynesians lived in a society where everything was communal throughout the community. However, Cook came from a culture that valued personal belongings and misunderstood the native’s culture.

  5. 3) Since learning about the true joy that was derived from surfing just for the sake of surfing, it has made me think about how surfing is perceived today and why people do it. Some for money, others for fame, but I hope that most people that surf that you would never hear of are doing it for the same reasons as the Hawaiians. I’ve really enjoyed discovering the true meaning of surfing again that I feel I once had but has started to fade. When starting surfing I feel most are just happy to stand up on any wave. Whereas the longer I’ve surfed, which I’m sure others have experienced too, I only want the best or biggest waves. Learning about the Hawaiians who of course also wanted the biggest waves, has made me realize there’s more to surfing than just trying to get the nicest wave or picture. Now I’ve been trying to take as many waves as I can, as opposed to just waiting for the “perfect” wave, which is an aspect that I’m also trying to bring to my everyday life.
    Lately throughout quarantine it has been too easy to not do anything, which has ultimately just made life a bummer. It seems we’ve all been looking at life waiting for something amazing to happen, since before covid large scale events happened all the time making it easy to enjoy life effortlessly. However, life doesn’t seem to be this way anymore, and has become more of what you make of it. Which is why lately I’ve been trying to engage more in the everyday boring things like taking the dogs on walks, enjoying the quiet, or spending time with family doing all the little things that have become a drag just because I have to get up. It sounds ridiculous to say as there are far larger problems for many others in life, but this is my reality which we all must face. Just as the Ancient Hawaiians just tried to enjoy life everyday just by spending leisure time in the water, we all have to just try to enjoy the little things more.

    1. In my opinion the stoke is an ironically curious aspect of life. Growing up in a family of non-surfers it was strange to them when surfing became a large part of my like, and as I started to introduce words such as stoke and the concept of it, it was often received with a slightly sarcastic tone. To them the word stoke was a foreign concept associated with people and lifestyles like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Just as it was a foreign concept to the colonist coming to Hawaii and the Polynesian islands. However, what I don’t think Captain Cook, the other famous writers and historians, or people of today like my family understand is that everyone experiences the stoke in their own way.
    To me the stoke is anything in life that brings you any shred of happiness. Wether it be something as monumental as having a baby, or something as simple as finding out your crush likes you back in second grade. The stoke is something that is enjoyed by all wether they realize it or not, even the joy these “great” men of history got just from writing about surfing. This is how I perceive the stoke of life, no matter what name it is known to you by.

  6. In a way, the younglings of the islanders could be stoked to go surfing. Although after the missionaries came and the natives culture changed, they still learned about surfing in school. As well as sacred songs, religion, and common known elements to education like reading, writing, mathematics, etc. However this would be a different kind of stoked. The meaning of stoked used by the ancient natives of Hawaii used the word stoked as a way of possibly getting excited to meet their potential lover out in the water. As it was customary for people to meet their lovers while surfing as they weren’t allowed to really meet outside of that. The children’s meaning of stoked would mean more of just being excited to do something fun. They would have learned in school that surfing used to be a frequent activity on the island. They would also learn why it was so important to their culture and they would want to participate for themselves.

    In Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” he describes the average daily life of a native. He describes the canoe that they use. He describes the view of the coral reefs. But more importantly, he describes the surfing. He says “In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing… at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell…. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently but made a failure of it. ” These sentences from the passage indicate the peace he saw in their culture. The peace of surfing and how it meant something to them more than just amusement.

  7. (3) When looking at the white settlers’ view of surfing and the natives it seems that there are many similarities and differences. When it comes to surfing it seems as if both parties enjoy it, the white settlers notice how happy the natives are when they are out on their boards catching the waves. While the natives went out very frequently to enjoy their time. Although the main difference between these two groups was the skill level. Twain attempted surfing but deemed it very challenging, while young natives picked up surfing with ease. Twain stated “None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly”. This was quite a statement but it seemed that way to the white settlers because the skills of the natives were so strong, it seemed as though this sport could never be accomplished by someone who hasnt grown up and practiced the sport every day. That is why the white settlers found it more enjoyable to watch from the shore, and the natives found it more enjoyable to be out in the waves.
    (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 ideas about “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 totally 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.

  8. 1. In class, we learned that “the stoke” was defined as a sense of exuberance felt by surfers during and after an excellent surf session. Catching that perfect wave can be what gives surfers the amazing feeling known as “the stoke,” and over many different historical accounts talk about how and when this can occur. Captain James Cook was by Matavai Point in Tahiti observing a man paddling in the water when he eventually noticed the man continue to “repeat his amusement” (pg. 3). The surfer remained in the water with fast attempts at paddling back in when Cook “could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea” (pg. 4). The feeling of “the stoke” can be such a thrill or high that will fulfill a surfer’s needs in the water and keep them going back for more. On page 4, Cook also states that “this exercise…was frequent among them; and they have probably more amusements of this sort which afford them as much pleasure as skating.” The idea of “the stoke” continues to be such an important feeling in surf culture from when it first began to modern day society.

    3. A topic that tends to be debated in the surfing world is whether it is considered as a lifestyle or just a sport. The missionaries and the Romantics were mainly the ones who would be opposed against either view, as it continues to be a question in society for which side it actually is defined as. Page 24-25 of The World in the Curl states that “the missionaries themselves had only limited influence for perhaps twenty years, and they dismissed accusations that they had suppressed surfing itself. Some of them, in fact, embraced the widespread view that surfing was healthy and even spiritual.” Some say the missionaries’ origin view is a myth of being mainstream in Hawaiian society while it also got its rebelliousness because of them. Meanwhile, in the ancient days, “surfing has always been more than a sport” (pg. 13) with the way natives have continued to form their lives around the water. For some it may have just been leisure time when available, while it has also been said that “Hawaiians were literally born surfers” (pg. 13). In the modern day, surfing has recently become able to compete in the Olympics which tends to be specifically set for athletic sports only. However, “religious authorities observed that not only were natives still surfing, but that nonnatives were missing out-and that missionaries had not, and should not, make surfing disreputable” (pg. 23). Nonnatives may love surfing but might only see it as a sport, while natives see fully as a lifestyle. Learning about the history and culture of surfing, however, might be able to change one’s views.

  9. Q1: “The Stoke” is known as a surfing term that can be used to describe one’s excitement, or the act of being thrilled. The ‘Stroke’ can be utilized in multiple ways and is used to let out excitement after hitting a good surf, or being excited to get in the surf. In Mark Twain’s excerpt from “ Roughing It”, he describes his encounters with surfing and how the natives engaged in ‘surf-bathing’. The activity of surf-bathing was exciting and entertaining which kept the natives in the ocean to cool down from the blazing sun and relax. Twain’s description of surf-bathing shows he was stoked by the activity.“… and here he would come by wheezing by like a bombshell!” Mark Twain’s excited vocabulary prompted him to be stoked/excited to attempt to surf-baith on his own. The terminology Twain used describes his encounters with the stoke, before the stroke was an actual term in the surf world.

    Q3: Comparison helps to tell a lot about how different and similar certain things are. When surfing was just beginning with the natives it was completely different then how we see surfing today. Surfing in the twentieth century led to various cultural ideas, such as surf music, surf fashion, and even surf terminology. One of the major differences in surfing today versus then, is the boards that were utilized for surfing. In the early beginnings of surfing, all boards were made from wood and many did not incorporate a fin, whereas today they are made from resin and epoxy and hard plastic. While these surfboards are different, they all came from the same concept, a board to ride out waves on. Surf culture in the twenties led to the surf fashion such as bikinis and board shorts, which styles were different in the time but we all still wear these fashion items similarly today. The surf in the 20s was just beginning meaning the ideas of surf competitions were just sprouting, While surf competitions are a thing in today’s world, incorporating similar ideas and different at the same time. Surf competitions began in the 1960’s which led it to become a professional sport. Surf competitions in the 60’s judged participants tricks and skills differently then how they are judged and compared today. Through the comparison of surfing in the twenties versus today, many of the original ideas have stuck and helped surfing become a sport for all to enjoy, whether professional or not. When surfing was reborn new ideas were added which helped revolutionize and draw more interest to the sport, such as surf fashion or surf music.


    The History & Origins of Surfing | SURF & UNWIND (

    Mark Twain on Surfing in Hawaii

  10. 1) “The stoke” can be described as a good feeling derived from participating in something exciting or spending time doing something with people you love. This term can be seen so many times throughout the text without even realizing it, whether you learn about Captain Cook’s story and what he experienced in Hawaii or other historical stories that involve examples of “the stoke”.
    When reading the text, I noticed one a phrase in one of the paragraphs that really helped me understand more about surfing and how the “stoke” of surfing impacts people. While Europeans were out focusing on wars and and perfecting war strategy, Hawaiians were out surfing, It was as if they disconnected themselves from the issues of the world, and focused on their pride and joy, surfing.
    European historians have said, the visions the Hawaiians had for surfing had inspired the “pursuit of happiness”. The surfers made surfing their happiness, not considering a sport or competition anymore, but more of a reason to spread “the stoke” throughout the tribes. I feel that this example is one I really enjoyed learning about, because it was something the “stoke” was used for in a real situation.

    3) A good comparison I would like to make is the Natives and the White settlers. The Natives of Hawaii were born into a culture that was surrounded by relaxation, happiness, and comfort in what they were used to doing for survival. They had their own methods for work and food and were happy with the skills they have obtained to live. The White settlers are born into something more strict, controlling, and somewhat of a higher class, and when the colonists settles in Hawaii, the differences in lifestyles were quite obvious. The white settlers were shocked by the way the natives were barely dressed, and had no strict form of power. The settlers were frustrated with the natives unwillingness to work, but it was something they weren’t costumed to, or at least used to a different form of work.

  11. #2. Within the surfing world one of the most well known terms is “stoke”. The stoke can be defined in many different ways and is also used in many different ways around the world. All of the definitions seem to have a similar definition and connection to the word and to make it simple it can be seen as the deep connection or feeling that a surfer gets when riding a wave. Since the day surfing was invented, history has always talked about some type of special feeling of connection that you get to the earth whenever you catch a wave and ride it to the shoreline. That feeling can be known as the stoke and it is what every surfer chases their whole life.
    Many different people from Europe who have found surfing, such as Captain Cook and Mark Twain, talk about their discovery of this odd pastime. When people first see it the immediate reaction is confusion. Why were these naked people swimming around in those dangerous waves? But as they continue to observe they notice the beauty of what these people were doing and the reaction of them as they surfed. Mark Twain talks about how he tried surfing but could not quite get the connection that these other locals had, “I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself.” I would describe the connection he was trying to feel, along with everyone else who surfed, as the meaning behind the stoke.

    #3. When white Europeans founded the islands in Polynesia two entirely different cultures clashed with different levels of development, intellectuals, and social norms. Native surfers and the incoming white settlers had very different ways of life. The white settler was well clothed, had his faith in Christianity, and was most likely a more formal working man. This was nothing like the native surfer. The native surfers were barely clothed, worshiped the land and sea, and used surfing as a way to make their way up the ranks in popularity on the island. These two cultures had very different views on morals and standards. For example the Europeans were capitalists; they sought to expand and grow businesses and grew their wealth through the amount of hard work that they did. On the other hand these native surfers really did not have an economy. People here “shared” quite often and the only real telling of how they grew their wealth or popularity was by how good of a surfer you were. Many Europeans saw this behavior of people as undeveloped and was the reason it led to the death of surfing, but to these natives and many people today, surfing was a way of life.
    Early surfers created this past time as a way of connecting to the Earth and nature, and chasing the stoke feeling. Surfing was used as a pastime and less of a competitive sport although there were plenty of “friendly” competitions. Surfing died when the Europeans took over. They never were able to understand the meaning of surfing and never felt the connection. I would blame this on the major separation of cultures and development over time, such as religious beliefs and governments. Surfing was rebirthed when it first came back to the United States in the early 20th century. Years of long lost stokes and history of surfing came back extremely strong and made its way around the world. Based on the comparison of the two cultures, we can even see that today’s surfers feel the same way about the sport that the early natives in polynesia had felt.

  12. 1. The word stoked means to be excited and enjoying that feeling you get while riding waves. Its first introduced in chapter one of “The World in the Curl”. You can also read about this throughout all the readings we have gone over so far. In Captain James Cooks passage he talks about his first incounter with the world of surfing. Captain Cook and his crew set out on a voyage and land in Matavai Bay, Tahiti in 1777. It was here were they were met with natives who loved to surf crazy waves. He described in the passage how motionless these locals looked while riding them. He also describes them as having more amusement surfing than the pleasure of skating. It goes to show how much surfing was apart of the culture. His description perfectly fits the word stoked in every aspect. People of all ages were out in the water surfing enjoying every part of the culture. The sailors aboard Captain Cooks ship saw this and saw this as a great opportunity to try something new. Even though they never used the word stoked everyone apart of the culture knew the exact feeling of joy wave after wave. Everything about this passage embodies the word stoked.

    3. A comparison that can be made is between the white settlers and Hawians views on surfing. Both took part in surfing for the feeling of stoked and the enjoyment. The settlers began to take part of surfing after they settled in Tahiti. A huge difference was how better the natives were for obvious reasons. They ere more experienced and had better boards than the white settlers. Twain described how hard it was to pick up the art of surfing and how strong the natives were. Natives were basically born to surf and pick up great skills easier than the settlers.This is why many of the settler watched from the shore but there were some that picked it up.

  13. 1.) The stoke can be seen throughout all of the readings many times. In Herman Melville’s passage, he talks about how the people of Ohonoo love to surf. Catching that perfect wave can be what gives surfers the amazing feeling known as “the stoke,” and over many different historical accounts talk about how and when this can occur. I believe that is what the stoke is, the feeling of being alive while surfing, it’s almost as you’re being one with the ocean. When the people of Ohonoo surfed, they felt alive. He talks about how they race along a watery wall, and how they wait to be snatched up by the wave. To have something as powerful as the ocean, form this curling wall crashing onto the beach is stunning. To see someone take a board and ride on one of mother nature’s most powerful creations helps describe the feeling of “stoked”. Once you get that ultimate stoke of being caught inside the curl of the wave and coming out of the barrel riding the wave you never want to do anything else. The stoke is very real and it’s a feeling that many people chase, including myself.

    3.) Captain Cook’s lieutenant was believed to be the one who took down notes and had records of the first surf. In December of 1777 in Matavai Bay, Cook observed a native paddling out on his surfboard and waiting for the perfect wave. The native then caught the wave and Cook describes the scene saying, “this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea” (pg. 4). When surfing was just beginning with the natives it was completely different then how we see surfing today. Comparison helps to show a lot about how certain things are different and similar from those times. One major difference in surfing today versus surfing then, is the boards. Boards today are made from resin and epoxy and hard plastics. With the only part of the board having any sort of wood are the stringers in the board. Boards of some of the first surfers were made of wood and did not use fins like the boards of today. Surfing was a way of living for past surfers, it was a way of expressing yourself. The view on surfers has always changed, been scrutinized, and gave ways to new ideas in the sport. The similarities between surfers of past and present is the end goal. This end goal has alway been the same for each and every surfer. Every surfer wants that stoke of catching and riding the strong watery wall that’s crashing behind you. Every surfer wants that thrilling and stoked feeling after catching and riding the powerful wave of the ocean, and that’s what every surfer is chasing.

  14. 1. As you read “The World in the Curl” you can see that at some point everyone has felt or seen the “stoke”. Captain Cook saw the stoke the first time he sailed to Hawaii, watching the natives do what they do best in the water and enjoying themselves. In his journal he explains what he was witnessing when his crew and him arrived at the island, “We saw with astonishment young boys & girls about 9 or ten years of age playing amid such tempestuous Waves that the hardiest of our seamen would have trembled to face”. The sea was the Hawaiians playground, and they took a lot of pride in the fun they had when surfing with their people, so much so that whenever a new settler arrived in Hawaii, they would all later describe how happy, free and exciting it was to watch the natives surf or as we know it enjoy the stoke of surfing. Even years later in the present day, whenever I go down to the beach, I’ve watched people enjoy the stoke when out on the water. People now will still watch surfers in astonishment when they’re surfing out there like it’s riding a bike. Captain Cook and other settlers years ago witnessed the stoke and years later in 2021 you can still see people enjoying the stoke as if it was 1778 all over again.

    3. The biggest comparison I’ve noticed while reading chapter one was the difference of the culture of surfing in the early twentieth century vs modern day surfing. Back in the early twentieth century surfing was described as being much more than just a sport or hobby. “Contests, wagers, glorifying chants: these social aspects of surfing show that Hawaiians didn’t ride waves just for fun. They also now surfed to impress the opposite sex, gain social and political status, and win prizes”. Nowadays rarely is that what surfing is about, it’s more of a sport or hobby for someone to take part of and maybe to some degree surfing can be used to gain some social status. However, not many people are surfing in California or New Jersey to win a political race nor is the King of England going to go surf in order to bet on land or something of that sort. As you read through the chapters the culture of surfing and what it used to stand for slowly decreases because of new world influences and its sort of sad to think back to see what surfing used to be about to what it is now. Surfing is still an awesome sport to watch people participate in and there are still contests but it’s not fully what it was back in the day when it meant more than just a hobby or contest.

  15. At some point in our lives, we are likely to have seen/heard the word “stoke.” This terminology dates back to the early days of surfing. Although this may seem like a slang term used to sound cool or popular, it means so much more. Stoke is the feeling of reaching a point of excitement that is unmatched by any other feeling. When finding stoke you feel a true connection with yourself and the earth, moving as one being rather than two. When examining the readings for this week’s class, Captain Cook’s stories stood out to me. Cook was one of the most successful European explorers in the world upon his arrival in Matavai Bay. However, the man who had seen it all was truly in shock when he first laid eyes on the art of surfing. Water had always been seen as a barrier to Europeans, but for the native Hawaiians, water is an ally. Fearlessly these people would stand on top of the waves, which is a level of power Cook was not familiar with. Cook observed in awe as natives were catching enormous waves, he could even see the stoke within them. Stoke is not just a fun word to say, rather it is a true feeling of overcoming pleasure and excitement. This is important to the early days of surfing due to the fame of Captain Cook. Once word of his “discovery” (which it is not) began to travel, many became interested in learning more about the Polynesian Islands and surfing.

    Throughout the world, you will never find one location that acts the same as another. Whether you are comparing food, clothing, music, or even appearance every part of this earth is unique. Some may take the unique qualities of one area and turn it into a negative. This tends to occur when people find certain habits strange, just because they do not understand. However, there is no one right way to live if we really think about it. This issue was very apparent in 1777 when Captain James Cook first visited the Polynesian Islands. The natives of these islands were the total opposite of everything that Cook stood for. They truly lived a beautiful life of bountiful food, no monetary stress, little to no work, and swam in the ocean as much as they could. These ideals seemed foreign to Cook, who did not appreciate the beauty of their lifestyle. I truly believe that if Cook took the time to learn and understand these islands and people, that there would not have been violence. The violence that occurred that day lingers on into the future, pushing a racist agenda on those of Polynesian descent.

  16. 1.) As stated in the glossary given stoked means enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited. I have noticed that this can be applied to many different ways throughout the text that we have read thus far. In the book “The World in the Curl” it is said that “both Men and women are so perfectly masters of themselves in the water, that it appears their natural element” (Westwick 14). Cooks crew was confused on why the Hawaiians loved surfing so much. They were afraid of huge waves, where as the Hawaiians were stoked to catch them. Hawaiians developed such a love for surfing that being in the water was so natural to them. They were not scared of what was in the water like Cook’s crew was. “Big waves struck fear in Western sailors, who tried to avoid them; Hawaiians views the same waves as a playground and sought them our for fun”(Westwick 14). Hawaiians were excited to wake up everyday and get back out into the ocean. They were excited to catch waves and to show off their skill. Surfing for Hawaiians was like second nature to them and they were stoked to catch any wave. Kids and adults trained to be their best at it and would compete to see who was better.
    2.) Surfing now compared to when it was first formed is very different. In the fifth century surfing became very popular in Hawaii. Polynesians brought surfing to Hawaii and it slowly became popular with Hawaiians. Surfing was not just used for fun, it was used to determine what men were more fit, was used to find a partner, and was bet upon. The men that was more fit and was better at riding waves would be praised a lot more than the ones that did not have as much talent. Surfing would also be a form of meeting a partner. Both sexes would show off their talent with surfing and some would quickly become attracted to each other. In the book “The World in the Curl” it is also known that surfing was used to gamble. People would bet livestock, canoes, fishing nets, and more. Surfing has become a lot more lenient now. Surfing is now mainly used for competitions and just for fun. Hawaiians had also used surfing for fun and that has never changed, but there were aspects attached to it such as people wanting to find their partners and determining ones physical abilities.

  17. 1) The “stoke” is a feeling that is not easily attainable. The stoke is described differently by everyone who attempts to describe it. I believe stoke is a feeling, I don’t believe it’s directly correlated to surfing. Throughout the novel we are reading, a sense of stoke is seen quite often in the early chapters. The native people of Polynesia show signs of being stoked. They were the first of the first to show stoke on such a level. European travelers were absolutely shook when they saw how Polynesians show their stoke. Living life on the water and being fully naked was the happiest the natives could ever be. This is a sign of being stoked. Stoke simply boils down to being 100% satisfied in what you are doing and enjoying what you are doing just as much. The equivalent to the Polynesians being stoked about surfing would be for me as an off-road racer, having a day to myself and hundreds of miles to ride. Surfing and the stoke directly interact with surfers way back when. Surfing was the stoke for surfers.

    2.) The early signs of imperialism and racism is seen when Hook makes his way over to Hawaii. He is offered all the essentials and is being cared for by the locals. The people of Hawaii believe that sharing is important to their lifestyle. They began to take things from Hook’s ship and Hook took this offensively. With that being said, it is evident that imperialism is seen because Hook came into unknown territory and was treated like family but as soon as he was forced to share he took offense. he was ultimately beaten to death because of the way he acted but he shows us that he thought he was superior to the natives. On top of that, more travelers began to travel to Hawaii and Polynesian islands alike and ransacked the islands for the sandalwood forests and women. The locals were forced to work and therefore lost time on the water. The travelers coming over and taking control of what wasn’t theirs by force or persuasive action is wrong and is a theme that is still seen today. They had to take away everything good from these people just for financial gain.

  18. Q1: The “Stoke” is a term used mostly by surfers or people who come from a surfing background. Being “Stoked” is a Hawaiian term used to describe the feeling of being happy or excited, maybe amped about something. For surfers this term might have more meaning to it, describing they’re anticipation of good waves before a session. Nothing says stoke more than the faces they get on their friends, family, and idols. Many people chase surfing for the stoke and praise it.

    Q2: When surfing belonged with the natives it was very different from how we see surfing today. One major difference in surfing today versus surfing then, is the boards. When natives created surfing they crafted their own boards out of wood, and took lots of pride in their build. Boards today however are made from fiberglass and hard plastics. With the only part of the board having any sort of wood are the stringers in the board. Boards that were crafted by some of the first surfers did not use fins like the boards of today. Today. board come off the shelves with three, four, or even five fins. Surfing was a way of life for past surfers, it was a way of expressing yourself. The view on surfers has always changed and gave ways to new ideas in the sport. The similarities between surfers of past and present still share the same “stoke” for the session in the waves. Times have changed but the stoke hasn’t. Every surfer wants that stoke of catching and riding the strong watery wall that’s crashing behind you. Surfing has changed in many drastically ways but the same chase surfers have with the “stoke” will stay forever.

  19. 1.) Stoked, today, is a colloquial term for excitement, or enthusiasm. However, for the ancient Hawaiian surfers “the stoke” was an ideology. Their enthusiasm and love for surfing dictated every aspect of their lives, and they believed everyone should share that same feeling of enthusiasm about it. In “The World in the Curl” the author provides an account of legend, where Kelea, the sister of Maui’s king, “enjoyed surfing so much that at night she dwelt upon the morrows surfing and awakened to the murmuring of the sea to take up her board.” Later in the text the author explains how Kelea was abducted by the Oahu warriors and sought by their chief, Lolale, only to court the very man who kidnapped her, Kalamuka, who shared the same “stoke” for surfing as her. These excerpts encompass the idea of “the stoke” very well. Kelea, after being taken, unwillingly, from her home to a new one, gave up a very comfortable new life as wife to the chief, for a man who ripped her away from everything she knew just because he shared the same passion and love for surfing. This passion can be seen in many accounts on early surfing, and that is why “the stoke” transcends its colloquial meaning and becomes an ideology. Ancient Hawaiians built their whole lives, and their whole culture around their “stoke” for surfing.

    2.) John London’s “A Royal Sport” has subtle racism behind it. At first I found it difficult to spot, but on further reading it became clear. London described the Hawaiian people as “burnt golden and brown by the sun”, specifically a man who he was watching surf, as a “brown mercury.” At first, I did not think much of it. However, further reading of the passage made it clear that London had a certain prejudice against these people. The point where I realized this came when he described his time trying to learn how to surf, and how the board he was using was too small. He did not realize it, until another white man who surfed, Alexander Hume Ford, told him to about the undersized board. London was humiliated at the fact that he did not know this. He also mentions how Fume was self taught in the art of surfing, and not properly trained. This also alludes to the tension between the two parties, Hawaiians and white men. They had a mutual prejudice towards each other. The Hawaiians did not want to really show London how to surf, but to humiliate him for their amusement because he was a white man. I assume they would get a great deal of enjoyment watching a white man fail at something they have mastered, especially since white men were so terrible towards them in the past. However, London was just as prejudice. He was not comfortable with learning to surf until another white man showed him. He was not comfortable with trying to learn the way the Hawaiians did or their methods. This subtle racism was normal at the time since most of the world had been separated not that far in the past, and these cultures did not know how to effectively interact with one another and their fear for one another blinded them. As it does repeatedly throughout history amongst many cultures.

  20. 1) Getting “stoked” can be technically defined as adding fuel to fire, but in the surfing world it describes that amazing feeling that you get when you’re surfing. Captain Cooks crew talked about what getting stoked was like for the premodern Hawaiians describing them surfing as “we saw with astonishment young boys & Girls about 9 or ten years of age playing amid such tempestuous Waves that the hardiest of our seamen would have trembled to face, (Nueshal and Westwick 14). They were so natural in the water that they were described as “almost amphibious”. Describing the youngest boys and girls having fun in surf that grown men and captains would be drowning shows how big surfing is in their culture and how everyone there got stoked. Cook’s accounts of how the premodern natives surfed and how conformable they were in the water gives us a good look into what it was like to get stoked as a native Hawaiian.

    3) A interesting comparison that is visible is the difference between the native surfers vs while settler population. The native surfers of Hawaii vs the white settlers had two completely different ways of life that contradicted each other. The natives viewed the water sacred and they tried to spend as much time as they could in it. Their lives revolved around water and fathers would put business and family responsibilities aside to ride some waves if the waves were pumping that day. Surfing was so huge for their religion and culture that for a quarter of each year, everyone had to stop working just to surf. It was their pride and passion and whoever was the best surfer had bragging rights and respect amongst everyone. The white settlers on the other hand did not share this love for the water as they viewed the water as a obstacle and place to stay away from, unlike the natives who saw it as a playground. The youngest of native kids had a lot more knowledge of the ocean compared to the grown men that followed Captain Cook. Furthermore, their view on property and food were vastly different. The Hawaiians viewed property and food as a communal thing and what is yours, is mine. They were able to have this approach because they were able to gather enough food for everyone to eat and have a place to stay. When the white settlers came in, the natives kept this approach and took everything Captain Cook had on his ship and the white settlers viewed them savages because of the misunderstanding. The white settlers went on to take over the land claiming ownership and changed the way the natives ate and lived. It was very important for both of these societies to learn each other’s culture and differences in society, along with how to compromise with each other because both of their populations were going nowhere, and it was beneficial for both groups to be at peace with eachother.

    Lastly, it is interesting how surfing has always been loved by the masses throughout decades, but for different reasons when comparing premodern surf techniques and ideals vs the “modern era” of surfing in the United States. In the premodern Hawaii, surfing was much more than a past time to do when you were bored. It was their passion and life. They lived life to get in the water and to try and catch the biggest wave. It was also their only way of meeting girls because their religion stopped them from being able to work with each other. If the waves were poor for a couple of days the natives would go and pray for surf, if they weren’t in the water at a surf competition, they were on the beach chanting songs for the royalty that were out the back or betting livestock on which surfer would win. In the modern era, we still love getting wet in the surf when we can, but not to the extreme nature that the premodern Hawaiians did. The modern society now is not sacrificing their job and family responsibilities to go surfing or even know about the religious part of surfing. It is now something to do for fun in our leasure time. The religious and royalty components have also been taken out of it. Furthermore, there are no politics involved in surfing as it used to and you will never see the governor of any states hitting the water every day like in the premodern era. Even though the reasons why people surf are vastly different, they both shared the common experience of the thrill of catching a wave and getting stoked.

  21. 1. Stoked is probably one of the most popular surfer slang used today and it is actually really interesting finding out how the word was adopted and what it means. Nut, what I think is cool is that the new approach is a blend all the previous meanings used in the past. So, when you hear someone saying – “I’m stoked!” they are excited, euphoric, thrilled, and happy to say the least. According to surf historians, the expression became fashionable in California, in the 1950s. A bit like the shaka, the “stoke” is strongly linked with surfers and wave riders as you would naturally assume. As a result, the stoke levels in surfing are always high! You just need to ride a wave, big or small it really doesn’t matter and then you will hear someone say the classic surf slang out loud- “So stoked, dude!”
    3. I would like to talk about the comparisons of Christian missionaries vs. Hawaiian religious leaders and what separates them from each other. To start, in Hawaii, I read that the missionaries converted Hawaiian people to the Christian faith. Then developed the written form of Hawaiian, discouraged many Hawaiian cultural practices, and introduced their Western practices. Later encouraging the spread of English. One of the most powerful converts was Queen Kaahumanu. She embraced Christianity, imposed it to the rest of the kingdom, and banned Hawaiian religious practices.The missionaries impact would continue through their descendants, who would become the political, business, and cultural elites of Hawaii and act as a driving force towards Hawaii’s Westernization. Which I thought was a shame because Hawaii was not like that before. They were a peaceful, respectful close knit island who had specific ways and customs that they have followed for a long time. I read that the Hawaiians understood the inevitability of the missionary movement and were, in fact, receptive to the message of Christianity. I don’t entirely believe this but the Hawaiians are extremely kind and a welcoming community so I think that is why the westernization was able to take off and develop the island into a more touristy area so quickly over time.

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