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July 2021

Who is the greatest surfer

The 4 Best Surfers in History

“Sliding on waves”, or He’e Nalu in Hawaiian, is a gift that has been passed on to us by our Polynesian ancestors, with a history of over 4,000 years. Over the last decade, surfing has gained more popularity than ever, and will make its debut at the 2020 Olympics.

But surfing is more than just a sport. It is a form of art, a means of self-expression, and a way of life. However, riding a wave before it breaks is not easy. Learning to surf waves takes a lot of time, patience, and commitment. It takes many failed attempts to gain the experienced required to read waves and ride them in style.

While most of us struggle to amp up our skills, it seems as though some people were born to surf. The latter began as humble beach boys, exploring the oceans and pushing their limits. Their fame, world records, and different surfing styles went down into history and continue to inspire both novice and advanced surfers all around the world.

Let’s take a peek into the lives of history’s most legendary surfers inside and outside the curl:

1. Duke Kahanamoku

Dubbed ‘The Father of Modern Surfing,’ The Duke was a native Hawaiian swimmer. Growing up, the ocean became Duke’s playground, and here are some of his most notable achievements:

In 1911, Duke beat the existing world record by 4.6 seconds for the 100 yards (91 meters) freestyle in Honolulu Harbor.

At 21 years old, he grabbed his first Olympic gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle; he remained the United States’ representative at the Olympics for the next 20 years.

In 1914, he introduced surfing to Australia and New Zealand. Duke was loved by many; not just as a superb surfer and swimmer but also for his sportsmanship and heart for his craft.

In 1918, he raised funds for the war efforts by swimming in exhibitions in 30 mainland cities.

In 1968, Duke passed away aged 77. In remembrance for his exemplary performance as a surfer, the United States Postal Service released a limited-edition commemorative stamp depicting a young Duke Kahanamoku in Waikiki.


2. Laird Hamilton

Hailed as one of the world’s best big wave surfers, Laird Hamilton became particularly famous for his ride on the “Millennium Wave” at Teahupo’o in the year 2000, which was considered the biggest wave ever at the time. Aside from being a frontrunner in surfing and popularizing paddle boarding and SUP surfing, Hamilton is also famous for being a multi-disciplinary athlete.

Here are some interesting facts about this famous surfer:

He is a highly revered model, producer, TV host, fitness and nutrition expert, stuntman, and author.

Hamilton coined tow-in surfing, which entails the use of a personal watercraft (PWC) in towing a surfer into large waves. As a pioneer of this technique, Hamilton described it as “just going as fast as you’ve ever been. Really, it’s just the sensation of speed.”

As a surfing aficionado, Hamilton believes that surfing is a creative process that is intrinsically motivated rather than a sport driven by external rewards.

3. Kelly Slater


Born Robert Kelly Slater in 1972 and acclaimed as ‘The Greatest Surfer of All Time,’ Kelly Slater’s career in surfing began at the tender age of six. His career skyrocketed when he began winning successive surfing championship titles at the young age of 11.

Here’s a snapshot of his awe-inspiring success in the world of surfing:

As he transitioned to professional surfing at 18, Slater became invincible. In the year 1991, Slater won the Rookie of the Year award, followed by a whopping string of World Title victories in the years 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1999.

Slater became a television household name after landing a role in the famous series Baywatch as Jimmy Slade.

After a brief hiatus in the year 1998, Slater began whipping the waves again in 2002, where he broke every professional surfing record up until the year 2011.

In 2015, he unveiled his greatest entrepreneurial achievement yet, the Slater Wave Pool, which creates the perfect canvas for surfers. Located in the middle of the California desert, the pool can create 50 different types of waves at the push of a button, and took a decade for Slater’s team to create. It is described as a combination of cutting-edge engineering and science designed to create the longest, rideable man-made wave in the world.

In September 2017, it was reported that the World Surf League will hold its first public event at Slater’s Surf Ranch in May 2018.

4. Miki Dora


Labeled by the London Times as the ‘siren voice of a nonconformist surfing lifestyle,’ Miklos ‘Da Cat’ Dora was known as an unmatched rebellious surfer. Here’s a look into the unorthodox life of one of the world’s best and out-of-the-box surfers:

The Hungarian surfer is known for popularizing longboard surfing. His light stance on the board and ‘ultra-nimble’ footwork earned him the nickname of ‘Da Cat.’

After his parents divorced at the age of six, his drunkard stepfather, Gard Chapin, California’s best surfer in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, introduced him to the surfing realm. Influenced by his stepfather’s aggressive and ill-tempered personality, Miki demonstrated a somewhat lonely and aggressive surfer personality, even protesting against the commercialization of surfing.

As a mysterious and gifted surfer, Miki was hailed as the first superstar of the surfing world.

Living a thug life, Miki spent time behind bars for fraud and grand robbery in 1973. He died in 2002 after succumbing to pancreatic cancer.

best gifts for surfers

Best Gifts for Surfers: Our Top Picks

You may be wondering what to get the surfer on your holiday shopping list. To help you out, we’ve listed down ten gift ideas for surfers—including top-selling items that may not be considered bare necessities but would still make great presents that you can surprise them with.

Gift Choices for Surfers

O’Neill Reactor II 3/2mm Men’s Full Suit

If you have the budget for it, why not surprise your surfer buddy or loved one with a new wetsuit? Chances are they already have one, but who wouldn’t love another one for free?

And if you truly want to impress them, get the O’Neill Reactor II, which is specifically designed for both divers and surfers. It’s as comfortable as surfers would want a full wetsuit to be, warm enough for long surfing sessions without being uncomfortable in warm waters, and made to be extra stretchy and thick in all the right places.

There’s even an O’Neill Reactor II 3/2mm Full Suit for Women to match!

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Feels super stretchy and comfortable
  • Provides warmth while remaining comfortable during the summer
  • Easy to wear and remove
  • Allows a full range of motion without chafing the skin
  • Features ergonomic knee pads for comfortable knee boarding

O’Neill Explore 3/2 mm Women’s Spring Dive Suit

Living in the tropics? A shorty wetsuit may be the more suitable option. We recommend the
O’Neill Explore 3/2 mm Women’s Spring Dive Suit, which is 3mm thick around the torso for extra warmth and made of carefully constructed Nylon 2 Neoprene Rubber for optimum water resistance, flexibility, and comfort.

Surfers would love its strategic ultra-flex DS zones for unrestricted mobility minus the chafing, the firewall chest for that much-needed heat insulation, and GlideSkin O-ring seals that work efficiently in minimizing water entry. The seams are flat-lock stitched for optimum strength and durability, and the #10-blackout back zipper comes with a pull tab leash that can be easily accessed by the wearer.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Allows more freedom of movement
  • Provides lasting thermal insulation
  • Made of high-quality neoprene blend
  • Easy to wear and remove
  • Made by a well-known brand of wetsuits

JBL Hydro Seal Aqua Plugs

One—actually, two—important surf accessories that surfers will always need are ear plugs, and we don’t mean just any pair. They need them to prevent wind and water from entering their ears, as these can cause infections or abnormal bone growths in the inner ear that can affect hearing.

Your recipient probably already has a pair, but it’s quite normal for surfers to lose a piece (or both) while catching waves. These doctor-recommended JBL Hydro Seal Aqua Plugs stay on comfortably for a watertight fit while providing just enough space for hearing and pressure clearing.

They’re so comfortable that your recipient will be able to put them on and just forget that they’re there.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Doctor recommended to reduce chances of getting “surfer’s ear”
  • Made of hypoallergenic polymer
  • Preformed for a custom and comfortable fit
  • Effectively seals the ear while also allowing pressure clearing
  • Available in three sizes to fit most ears

Henderson 3mm Thermoprene Gloves


Neoprene is great not only for wetsuits but also for gloves. But instead of using standard neoprene, Henderson uses thermoprene for added flexibility, stretchability, and comfort. Its 3mm thickness effectively keeps out the cold without restricting movement or making the hands feel numb.

Even more useful for surfing are its gripped palms, which enhances the grasp on surfboards and stand-up paddles. It provides an anatomical fit and is incredibly versatile, so it can be used for other watersports.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • It’s one of the most flexible and stretchable wet gloves on the market
  • Features characteristics of more expensive gloves
  • Enhances grip on surfboards and paddles
  • Easy to wear and remove
  • Available in multiple sizes to fit most hands

Hyperflex 5mm AMP Split Toe Surf Boots

Keeping in mind that surfers usually purchase only what they need for their hobby, it’s likely that they haven’t purchased any cold water surfing gear. That’s where these cool Hyperflex 5mm AMP Split Toe Surf Boots come in.

What makes them stand out is the unique, split-toe design that enhances control over the surfboard—making the user feel as if they were barefoot. The 5mm thickness adds warmth without numbing the feet and the diamond-skin provides a better grip when standing on the surfboard.

It’s definitely a must-have for any surfer who’s planning a prolonged surf trip in areas with colder climates.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Made of warm, durable, and flexible wet shoe materials
  • Provides excellent traction and protection
  • Super water-resistant
  • Great cold water use without numbing feet
  • Easy to wear and remove

Freestyle Shark Classic Tide Watch

A tide watch is one of the best accessories that a surfer can have. The Freestyle Shark Classic Tide Watch is built with a dedicated system that accesses tide data (present and future tide heights) and sunrise/sunset times from over 250 beaches worldwide.

Its added features include a chronograph, countdown timer, heat timer, and an alarm. The case and silicone wristband are durable and comfortable to wear, plus it looks stylish as an everyday watch, making it the ultimate surf accessory for people who ride waves day in and day out.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Very ideal for traveling surfers
  • Provides accurate tide data and sunset/sunrise times
  • Water resistant up to 330 ft. (100 m.)
  • Readable even at night
  • Durable, flexible, and fade-resistant

TYR Swim Shades Mirrored Goggle


At first glance, these look like a cool pair of mirrored, frameless sunglasses—until you see its goggle straps. Not too many own protective eyewear while participating in active watersports due to the risk of them getting lost or feeling uncomfortable while riding the waves.

However, the TYR Swim Shades Mirrored Goggles are specifically designed to provide a comfortable, watertight seal on the eyes like premium goggles do, while looking like stylish sunglasses on the outside. Its split strap is super easy to adjust for the perfect fit and it provides broad-spectrum protection against UV rays.

Your favorite surfer—and their eyes—will surely thank you for this thoughtful and useful gift.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Makes wearing goggles look super stylish
  • Provides full UVA/UVB protection
  • Long-wearing and comfortable around the eyes
  • Easy to adjust for the perfect fit
  • Comes in multiple colored variants

Intova Surf Board Mount

Does your recipient love sharing their gnarly rides on social media? Then a surfboard mount may be the perfect gift! Support their love for surfing by helping them document their surf adventures with this versatile action camera mount. Instead of getting a camera that you’re not sure they’ll want, go for a small but very useful accessory that will make it easy for them to attach an action camera right on their surfboard.

The Intova Surf Board Mount comes with a sturdy adhesive mount and a standard screw mount to match those found on a wide variety of compact action cameras. It’s also made of strong plastic and stainless steel, so it’s a perfectly safe companion for a camera.

And heck, if your surfer friend doesn’t have an action camera yet… and you have the budget for it… you may as well throw in a GoPro camera, too!

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Offers unique filming perspective while surfing down waves
  • Offers adjustable view angles
  • Made of durable and impact-resistant materials
  • Easy to secure on a surfboard
  • Compatible with most cameras

Airhead Heavy Duty Leash

Show that you care about their gear and safety by giving them the Airhead Heavy Duty Leash. Unlike other leashes, Airhead’s is coiled and comes with two in-line swivels to prevent tangling. It extends to 11 feet (3.35 meters) long so the board can move away during a fall (so it won’t likely hit the surfer) without getting lost in the water.

The calf strap is also comfortable and comes with a hook and loop touch fastener so it stays on until it is purposely removed by the wearer.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Eliminates the risk of a runaway board
  • Affordable but essential for surfer’s safety
  • Allows full freedom of motion
  • Calf strap is wide and padded for comfort
  • Highly recommended for surf and lake use

Sun Bum SPF 70 Continuous Spray Sunscreen

Since surfing usually entails being under the sun for a prolonged period of time, sun protectant should always be in every surfer’s travel bag. The Sun Bum SPF 70 Continuous Spray Sunscreen allows the user to quickly apply a long-lasting a UVA/UVB-protective shield so they can enjoy hours of wave riding without having to worry about painful sunburns.

Aside from the strong protection, what makes this product special is that it doesn’t feel heavy or gooey on the skin even when you stay out of the water, thanks to its non-greasy and ultra sweatproof/waterproof formulation. It’s also hypoallergenic, Vitamin E-enriched, 100% vegan, and free from gluten, PABA, oil, and harmful parabens.

What Makes It a Great Gift:

  • Provides broad-spectrum UV protection
  • Approve by the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF)
  • Sprays on for quick & easy application
  • Formula is smooth, light, and non-greasy
  • Ultra sweatproof & waterproof

stand up paddle academy

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Basics

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) offers a fun way to play on the water, with the added benefit of a full-body workout. And, since you stand at full height on your board, it gives you a unique vantage point for viewing what’s down under the water and out on the horizon.

Before you head out on the water for the first time, it’s helpful to know a little bit about SUP gear and basic technique. To get started paddle boarding, you’ll want to learn:

  • How to get geared up to SUP; you’ll need your paddle board, of course, plus just a couple other essentials.
  • Basic SUP paddling techniques; just a few skills will ensure you don’t end up paddling in circles.
  • A few helpful tips for your first SUP outing (hint: try to make wind your friend).

Get Geared Up to SUP

Good news: You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy stand up paddle boarding.

stand up paddle board (sup) gear illustrations

Stand up paddle board: Your first time or two out, you may want to rent gear or borrow from a friend. After that, if you decide you love to SUP and want to do more of it, consider buying your own. Your board choice is determined by a combination of paddler weight and skill, your intended use and the local conditions. Different boards excel at different disciplines, such as recreational paddling, surfing, touring, racing and SUP yoga. If you’re renting, the staff at the rental shop will help guide your choice. To learn more about boards, see Stand Up Paddle Boards: How to Choose.

Paddle: A SUP paddle looks a bit like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a tear-drop-shaped blade that angles forward for maximum paddling efficiency. The correct length paddle will reach up to your wrist when you stand the paddle up in front of you and raise your arm above your head. Read more about choosing and sizing paddles in our article, SUP Paddles: How to Choose.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device): The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels, so if you’re paddling outside a surf or swimming area, you have to have a PFD on board. Adults don’t have to wear the PFD, but children must. Check your state’s regulations for age requirements. You can learn how to pick the right PFD for you in our article, PFDs: How to Choose.

Safety whistle and light: The Coast Guard also requires that you carry a safety whistle to warn other boaters. If you expect to be out after sunset, be sure to have a light on board.

stand up paddle board (sup) gear accessories

Proper clothing: During the summer months on a warm body of water, most people choose to wear some combination of a swimsuit, board shorts, and a short- or long-sleeved rash guard for sun protection. For cool conditions where hypothermia is a concern, wear a wetsuit or dry suit.

Leash: Typically sold separately, a leash tethers your SUP to you, keeping it close by if you fall off. Your SUP is a large flotation device, so being attached to it can be important for your safety. There are leashes designed specifically for surf, flatwater and rivers; be sure to purchase the correct one for your intended use.

Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing.

Shop paddle boarding gear

Basic SUP Paddling Techniques

With only a little instruction, most beginners are able to stand up and start paddling shortly after taking a SUP out for the very first time. To get you started, here are some tips on:

  • Standing up
  • Balance
  • Falling and getting back on


How to Stand Up on Your SUP

stand up paddle boarder starting to stand up on the board

Practice this technique for standing up:

  • Stand alongside the board in about knee-deep water (just deep enough that the fins on the board don’t hit the bottom).
  • Hold the board by the edges and work your way onto the board in a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board (you can quickly locate the center of the board by finding the carry handle).
  • Keep your hands on the sides of the board to stabilize it and move one foot at a time to place your feet where your knees were.
  • Rather than standing up in one motion, start by raising your chest up while keeping your knees bent. Once your chest is vertical, extend your legs to stand up.


Staying Balanced on a SUP

a stand up paddle boarder's stance for maintaining balance while on the board

Once you’re standing, there are a handful of things you can do to maintain your balance on the board:

  • Position your feet so they are parallel, about hip-width distance apart, and centered between the edges of the board.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent and your back straight.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid staring at your feet.


How to Hold a SUP Paddle

the correct way to hold and use a sup paddle

 It’s fairly common to see beginner paddlers holding their SUP paddles the wrong way. To avoid making the same mistake, here are two things to know when grabbing your paddle:

  • Make sure the tear-drop-shaped blade of the paddle angles away from you and toward the nose of the board.
  • When you’re paddling on the right side of your board, your left hand will be on the T-grip and your right hand a few feet down on the shaft. When you switch sides, reverse your hand positions.


Falling and Getting Back On

a stand up paddle boarder getting back on their board after falling off

Despite your best efforts to stay balanced on your board, you’re going to fall in the water at some point. Even experienced paddlers take the plunge from time to time, so if you’re feeling a little wobbly, don’t worry about it and remember that SUP is a watersport, so it’s okay to get wet.

For those inevitable times when you lose your balance:

  • Aim yourself to the side, so that you fall into the water and not onto the board. Falling onto the board is more likely to cause an injury.
  • Try to hang onto your paddle while falling. If you get separated from it, retrieve your board first and get back on, then paddle with your hands to get the paddle.

To get back on your SUP after falling off:

  • Position yourself next to your board and near the center.
  • Grab the handle at the center of the board with one hand.
  • Let your legs float up to the surface behind you, then kick your legs while pulling on the handle to slide yourself onto the board.

SUP Strokes

Here’s when the real fun begins. As a SUP beginner, there are three basics strokes that will help you get moving:

Forward Stroke

a paddle boarder illustrating the forward stroke on her sup

This basic stroke propels your board forward through the water.

  • Plant the paddle in the water by reaching about two feet forward, then push the blade all the way under the surface. Move the paddle back through the water to your ankle, then out of the water.
  • Keep your arms straight and twist from your torso as you paddle. Push down on the paddle grip with your top hand rather than pulling the paddle back with your lower arm. It’s helpful for some people to think of pulling the board past the paddle rather than pulling the paddle through the water.
  • To go in a reasonably straight line, you’ll need to alternate strokes on either side of the board. There’s no set number of strokes per side; try about three or four strokes on one side, then switch to the other.
  • The more vertical you keep the paddle, the straighter you will go.


Reverse Stroke

a paddle boarder illustrating the reverse stroke on her sup

The reverse stroke is simple to perform and can be used for slowing down, stopping and turning. It is essentially the opposite of the forward stroke.

  • If you’re paddling on the right, reach back behind you and plant the paddle in the water near the tail of your board. Make sure the blade is all the way under the surface of the water.
  • Like with the forward stroke, keep your arms straight and twist from your torso rather than pulling the blade forward with your arms.
  • Doing the reverse stroke on the right side of your board will cause the nose of your board to turn to the right and vice versa.


Sweep Stroke

a paddle boarder illustrating the sweep stroke on their sup

The sweep stroke is useful for turning your board while standing still or moving.

  • If you’re paddling on the right, rotate your shoulders so that your right shoulder comes forward.
  • Reach forward and plant your paddle in the water, submerging the entire blade.
  • Sweep the paddle away from the board in a big arcing motion from the nose of the board to the tail by rotating your torso and using the leverage of your legs and hips.
  • Doing the sweep stroke on the right side of your board will turn the board to the left and vice versa.

Tips for Your First SUP Outing

a stand up paddle boarder setting out on their paddling adventure in calm water and winds
Before you grab your board and head to the water for the first time, here are some simple tips for planning your SUP outing:
  • Choose a small, calm body of water, like a lake or pond, that’s free of lots of obstacles like boats and buoys.
  • Look for a sandy beach or another place you can wade into the water to easily launch your SUP.
  • Choose a sunny day with little to no wind.
  • If your route requires that you paddle into the wind, do so on your way out so you can get a boost from the wind on the way back when you’re getting tired.
  • Go with a friend so you can keep an eye on each other.
  • Plan to paddle for about one hour on your first outing.

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