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Surfing's Decline
Modern Surfing
The Duke
Modern Boards
Surf Clubs
Waikiki Beachboys
Competitive Surfing
Modern Surfing Greats
Surfing in Popular Culture
Tom Blake
Bibliography - Surfing



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Competitive Surfing

Although large wagers were often placed on ancient surf contests, it wasn’t until the 1960s that surfing again involved prizes or cash awards. In 1965, money awards were still nominal, but by the time the Fifth Annual Duke Kahanamoku Invitation Surfing Championship was held in 1969, the first prize had grown to $1,000. In 1970, the Smirnoff Pro-Am meet organized by Fred Hemmings at Makaha Beach awarded $3,000 to the first place surfer. In 1971, the most prestigious professional surfing tournament - Pipeline Masters - held its first contest. Today it's the apex of surfing's Triple Crown, following contests at Haleiwa and Sunset Beach, and the winner walks away with prize money in the tens of thousands.

Surfing is a big sport and big business worldwide. The World Championship Tour includes events all over the globe - from Biarritz, France to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Tavarua, Fiji - with male and female competitors. Sponsorships and product endorsements can provide big bucks to top athletes. As surfing has grown in international popularity, producers of surf equipment, accessories and clothing have also enjoyed commercial success around the world.

With the growing popularity of surf contests, individual surf champions gained visibility. Fred Hemmings Jr. became Hawaii's first world champion when he won the 1968 World Amateur Championship in Rincon, Puerto Rico. Among the first to envision a professional tour for surfers, Hemmings fashioned one out of existing surf events. Competitors score points at various contests throughout the year with the championship going to the surfer with the most accumulated points. Hemmings also helped launch the International Professional Surfers (now the Association of Surfing Professionals) in 1976 and served as their president during its first three years.

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