Until very recently, I had no idea that there was such a thing as “California Surfing Day,” but there is.
In March of 2018, SCR-122 was introduced to California State lawmakers; it was a resolution proclaiming September 20, 2018 and every year thereafter as ‘California Surfing Day.” It passed in both the state senate and assembly without opposition, and based on the bill’s text, the idea is to “unify surfers throughout California and from around the world” and to “honor the California surf lifestyle’s history, culture and future.”
I’ve always understood that is was a guy named George Freeth who brought surfing to California, but more recent research suggests that surfing may have come to the Golden State as far back as 1885. According to some accounts, three nephews of Hawaiian King Kalakaua (who ruled from 1874 until his death in 1891), were studying at a military academy in San Mateo, California. While on summer break in Santa Cruz in 1885, the three teens decided to shape boards from local redwood trees and go surfing at the San Lorenzo rivermouth. It may well have marked the beginning of the California surf culture as we know it today, started by three very resourceful, determined Hawaiian princes.
Freeth arrived in California in October of 1907, giving surfing demonstrations up and down the Southern California coast. It was Freeth who also helped bring the legendary Duke Kahanamoku to California for the first time.
Whether surfing first came to Northern California in 1885 or to Southern California some 22 years later, today is California Surfing Day – a time to bring surfers together and celebrate the influence the California surf lifestyle has had on music, fashion, movies and history. Enjoy!!
Until next time,