“Surfing is in the Heart”


Saturday, September 14, 2013

How many people exhibited objects?


How many people came but did not bring objects?



Santa Cruz MAH

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Santa Cruz Surfing Club Society

Geoffrey Dunn

Kim Stoner

Posted by Pop Up Museum Intern Lauren Benetua

What was it about?

Surfing has been cool for a long time. But the history of surfing in the Americas began in 1885, when three Hawaiian princes first surfed the mouth of the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz. Geoffrey Dunn and Kim Stoner, along with members of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Society at the Santa Cruz  Surfing Museum (Lighthouse Point), shared never-before-seen  research materials related to the Princes.  This Pop Up Museum invited surf fanatics to share photos, magazines, and stories of their favorite local spots.

How did it go?

Santa Cruz prides itself for its world-class waves and surfing culture.  We often think of ourselves as the REAL Surf City not only because of our superior waves (yes, we're biased), but also because Santa Cruz is the first place in the Americas that was introduced by three Hawaiian princes: Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, David Kawananakoa and Edward Keliiahonui.

We had many visitors both local and non-local.  Historian and writer Geoffrey Dunn brought along a map from 1866 that showed us how the bay has changed over the years.  An old time surfer stopped by to share his photos from the heyday of long boarding.  Younger surfers, decked out in their wet-suits and clinging to their boards, quickly browsed our table before hopping the fence at Lighthouse Point to get into the water.  Travelers from Germany and Norway told us that surfing landscapes aren't always so stereotypical - did you know that a town in the north of Norway hosts not only a snowy hill covered with sheep, but also world-class cold water surf?

A surfer in his mid 20s brought along a surf poster copyrighted in 1963, just before the famed surf film, Endless Summer, was released.  This poster embodies surf history including destination and adventure literature entirely built around surf culture and how it has evolved over the years.  This poster listed popular spots from around the world.  What was interesting to find was that some of these spots have since been ridden with pollution and are no longer much in use.

Geoffrey Dunn's map reminded us that while the waves curve around each cliff, surfers used to be able to ride waves in all the way from Middle Peak into Cowell's Beach (the wave break sequence goes from Middle Peak, Indicators, to Cowells, starting with a 15 ft break ending in a 2 ft wave).  Now, you have to paddle sideways due to the sandbar that has eroded between Indicators and Cowell's due to the changing landscape if you want to ride it all the way in. While the older surfers were able to ride this path all the way in more frequently in their day, in just one generation, younger surfers are proud to say they've done it even once.  This brought up environmental impacts upon our local wave breaks.

When prompted by disappearing surf spots and the prospect of new destinations, the younger surfer mentioned above told me, "waves can be created by man and destroyed by man."  When we take action to fight erosion on our cliffs, one reaction is varied sand flow distribution which affects where waves break.  Other reactions are caused by waste disposal pipes, dried up creeks that used to flow into the bay, and rising sea levels.  If our fun-themed Pop Up Museum doesn't only bring people together, but also raises awareness both locally and globally, we believe we are on the right track.

Despite the concerns, we can still say that the surf in Santa Cruz is alive and well, with a rich history.  We held this Pop Up Museum in a beautiful area near the cliff, on a day with sunny, blue skies.  Surfers, dog-walkers, locals and visitors talked about their favorite spots and exchanged their stories - some gnarly, some adventurous, some meditative and serene.  One man told us he is recovering from Lyme's disease, and he claimed surfing was his biggest source of positivity and release.  Clearly, surfing is more than a sport, it is a way of life.


As always, be sure to check out our Pinterest Board!

View more pictures on our Flickr 

For more reading on the beginning of Surf History in the continental US and Santa Cruz, check out this article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.