As a Virginia Beach local, I always knew surfing was a major part of beach culture. It’s unlikely that you will drive around Virginia Beach and not see a car with a surfboard in the back. If you go to the beach you’re bound to see a handful of surfers. As a lifeguard, I interacted with surfers almost everyday and truly enjoyed getting to know them and their community.
Although I am not a surfer, I know that Virginia Beach is not the best place to surf, but our surfers have surely made the best of it. I was still surprised to read about the long history surfing has here in Virginia Beach and how it has influenced surfing locally and around the world.
The first surfboard and concept of surfing was brought to Virginia Beach from Hawaii in 1912 by the Jordan family. James M. Jordan Jr. is cited as the first person to surf on the East Coast, right here in Virginia Beach! I was surprised to find out that the beaches I call home witnessed the first East Coast surfer, but it explains why surfing is such an important part of our community.
After learning about the very early history of surfing, I was surprised to learn that Dusty Hinnant and John Smith, two of the founders of the Virginia Beach Lifeguards, were some of the first to make Blake boards, which helped to inspire the creation of the first local surf shops. Their passion for saving lives and surfing quickly inspired a long traditions of surfers and lifeguards. I loved learning about how intertwined the lifeguard and surfing communities are, and how these men were pioneers.
Following Hinnant and Smith’s interest in building boards, Pete Smith and Bob Holland opened up the very first local surf shop. World renowned surfers and surf shops have helped to get Virginia Beach on the map, and these two men were some of the first to do just that.
I was very surprised to learn about the history of the East Coast Surfing Championships. It is the second longest continuously running surf contest in the world and is held right here in Virginia Beach, thanks to our surfers. The history of surfing surprised me and gave me a much better understanding of our beach community! Our surfers have brought global recognition to Virginia Beach through their dedication, drive, and passion for the water.