10 Cool Facts About The Early History Of Paddle Boarding

These days, paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world, with the sport beginning to reach into every corner of the globe. From fierce competitive races in California to paddle board rentals in LBI, if you’re anywhere near the water, chances are that people are going to paddle board rentals in LBI be boarding.

But that wasn’t always the case. Though board-related activities are fairly ancient and date back centuries in Polynesia, modern paddle boarding is actually relatively new. Essentially invented in the 1930s, it enjoyed a brief time of popularity, faded for a time, and then surged to popularity again in the late 1990s.

If you enjoy paddle boarding and are interested in knowing how it got its start, these 10 cool facts will walk you through the early days of the sport. Keep them in mind the next time you’re looking for paddle board rentals in Long Beach Island!

  1. The pioneer of modern paddle board construction is widely considered to be Thomas Edward Blake, who modernized the ancient sport in the 1930s.
  2. Blake may have made the first modern paddle board in 1926, when he was restoring historic Hawaiian boards for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum. While working on the project, Blake created a replica of the so-called olo surfboard ridden by ancient Hawaiian kings, a style of board that had long been ignored by historians and enthusiasts alike.
  3. Blake is the inventor of the hollow board, which he created by first making a board from redwood in the style of the olo, drilling holes throughout, then filling in those holes.
  4. In 1928, Blake won the Pacific Coast Surfriding Championship using the board he had created two years earlier, a landmark victory that changed the face of the sport forever.
  5. The Pacific Coast Surfriding Championship was the first mainland event that combined both traditional surfing with paddling, edging us closer to what we today consider to be modern paddle boarding.
  6. In the years that followed, Blake went on to break almost every single established paddling record, many of which would not be broken until well into the 1950s.
  7. Blake initially promoted his hollow paddle board design as a lifeguard rescue tool.
  8. One of Blake’s great victories came against Pete Peterson and Wally Burton, two of the best watermen in California. In the first every Mainland to Catalina crossing race, a rigorous 29-mile journey, Blake dominated, making the crossing in under six hours.
  9. Before he started winning so often, Blake’s boards were derided by many, with surfers calling them “kook boxes.” (Reporters instead referred to them as “cigar boards.”).
  10. Surfboards continued to evolve over the years, but in the world of paddle boarding, Blake’s initial 1926 design is still very close to what is used today.

And that’s it, as far as the early days of modern paddle boarding go. The next time you’re boarding on the west coast or looking for paddle board rentals in LBI, remember how this all got its start. It will give you a better appreciation for how far we’ve come!

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