the pioneers of surfing
Captain Cook's status as the first European surfing enthusiast has been recognised by the arrival of a centuries-old surfboard at his museum in Britain.
A surfboard measuring 4.2 metres and weighing 67 kilograms has been transported from Hawaii to be displayed at Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Morton, near Middlesbrough.
The man whose discovery of Australia led to English settlement was known to have been captivated by surfing, which he witnessed in the Pacific.
Captain Cook witnessed a form of canoe surfing in Tahiti in 1777 and described it as "the most supreme pleasure", guaranteed to ease "perturbation of the mind", London's Daily Telegraph reported.
The following year, he and his crew became the first Europeans to see board surfing in Hawaii.
Captain Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779, but Lieutenant James King wrote in the ship's log about the first European view of surfing.
"Where there is a very great sea and surf breaking on the shore, they lay themselves upon an oval piece of plank," the log read.
"They wait the time of the greatest swell and push forward with their arms.
"It sends them in with a most astonishing velocity and the great art is to guide the plank so as to keep it in a proper direction on top of the swell.
"The boldness and address with which we saw them perform these difficult and dangerous manoeuvres was altogether astonishing and scarcely to be credited."
The board shipped to Cook's museum is considered the oldest surfboard in the world, with its ownership tracked back to the 1830s, when it was likely already an antique.
Surfboards of that size were reserved for high chiefs because they required a team of servants to take it to the beach.
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