Surfing is the "Sport of Kings"
I can't tell you how many times we hear "The Sport of Kings is horse racing". Our answer is well...yes, but so is surfing. It really depends on what side of the pond you grew up on and what your heritage, hobbies or passions are. So I wanted to take few minutes to provide as much information as possible and hopefully answer some questions for those unfamiliar with surfing history.
Historians seem to have difficulty proving just how far back surfing really goes. But what we can gather from historical reference that "For as long as humans have been swimming in the ocean, we've been riding waves into the beach. That means the history of surfing likely predates the history of writing by thousands of years." (Beyond the Board: History of Surfing - Jeff Hale )
What we do know is the Polynesian culture is deeply rooted in surfing. It's said that warriors in training would charge into big waves to prove their skill and bravery. There are surfing contest documented from the 15th century between two chiefs which unfortunately lead to the loser being sacrificed to his Umi's god. The stakes aren't quite that high today...but it's a pretty clear indication of how important surfing was in their culture.
No-one really knows how long the Polynesians had been riding waves on their paddle boards but history credits them for the invention of the "Olo Surf Board " around 400 C.E. The first Europeans to encounter the Polynesian Sport of Kings was Captain James Cook in 1777. When Cook died , his First Lieutenant, James King took over duties of writing about their discoveries and is credited with introducing surfing to the Western World. His writings describe the hierarchy and that only the ruling class and royalty were allowed to ride the best boards and surf the best beaches. Which ultimately means that the best and most skilled riders were traditionally Kings, leading to the sport of surfing being credited as the "Sport of Kings".
I'm not sure how far back horse racing was dubbed the Sport of Kings, But it really doesn't matter. As far as we're concerned we will forever call our surfing heritage the SPORTOFKINGS.
If you'd like to read more in depth about the history there's a couple of good blogs here to read at your leisure.
https://www.islesurfandsup.com/history-of-surfing/ by Jeff Hale
https://www.everydaycalifornia.com/blogs/everyday-thoughts/surfing-101-the-history-of-surfing by Rew Lida at Everyday California