Friday, August 15, 2014

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Offbeat Museums




After watching the surfers at the famous Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, we popped into this little lighthouse and spent a delightful 20 minutes (seriously that's all the time you'll need) reading about the history of the sport and ogling the old colorful surfboards.

We walked around the exhibits with fellow tourists, shoulder to shoulder, in the cramped one-room quarters.  James Cook witnessed Hawaiians surfing way back in the 1770's when he explored the islands.  It is the Hawaiians, of course, who brought the sport to our shores in the late 1800's, although it didn't really take off until the 1930's.  Back then, a group of young men formed the Santa Cruz Surfing Club and rode the waves on 100-pound redwood planks.  Can you imagine?  Now the foam boards are small and as light as a feather.    My younger son's board is a permanent fixture on top of his little RAV-4.

After World War II when technological advances were happening on a daily basis, the new fiberglass-covered balsa wood boards made surfing a little bit easier, and the youth of California took it up in droves.  The 60's ushered in the era of surf movies, music and magazines.  The regal Hawaiian style was replaced with turns, cutbacks and all sorts of crazy moves.

The 70's found the surfers rebelling against rampant commercialism.  They sought out more lonely spots and began to explore the coasts of Central America, Australia and Africa.  The sport continued to grow in the 80's and 90's and is now a $100 million industry.  Sponsorships, contests, surfing schools, camps and resorts have enabled young men and women to become professionals who actually support themselves from surfing.  A dream job, for sure.

As for me, it is the surf shops I love the most.  I find the cutest tops, jackets and dresses in these stores.  The clothes are a little edgy, always casual and extremely wearable.  It suits the California lifestyle--those endless summer days at the beach--whether you're a surfer.  Or not.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, how fab, have been there too but didn't actually know that it is a surf museum. what a shame! ;) Now I have to go back ;)

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