Surfing: one of the world's oldest sports | Photo: John Severson

Surfing is one of the world's oldest sports. Although the act of riding a wave started as a religious/cultural tradition, the truth is that surfing rapidly transformed into a global water sport.

The popularity of surfing is the result of a sum of events, innovations, influential people, and technological developments. The early surfers had to challenge the power of the oceans with heavy, finless surfboards.

Today, surfing has evolved into an high-tech extreme sport, in which hydrodynamics and materials play a vital role. Surfboard craftsmen have improved their techniques; wave riders have bettered their skills.

The present and future of surfing can only be understood if we look back at its glorious past. From the rudimental "caballitos de totora" to the computer shaping machines, there's an incredible trunk full of memories, culture, achievements and inventions.

Discover the most important dates in the history of surfing:

3000-1000 BCE: Peruvian fishermen build and ride "caballitos de totora" to transport their nets and collect fish
900 BCE: Ancient Polynesians ride "olo" boards as a traditional, religious art form
1769: Botanist Joseph Banks writes first description of wave riding, at Matavai Bay, Tahiti
1778: Captain James Cook touches the Hawaiian Islands
1866: Mark Twain tries surfing in Hawaii
1885: Three Hawaiian princes surf for the first time in USA, at the San Lorenzo river mouth, in Santa Cruz
1898: Hawaii is annexed by the USA
1906: Thomas Edison films surfers for the first time, at Waikiki, Hawaii
1907: Jack London visits Hawaii and tries surfing at Waikiki, Hawaii
1907: George Freeth is publicly announced as the "Hawaiian wonder" who could "walk on water", at Redondo Beach
1907: Surf Life Saving Association is founded in Australia
1908: Alexander Hume Ford founds the Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club
1911: Duke Kahanamoku, Knute Cottrell and Ken Winter found Hui Nalu
1914: Duke Kahanamoku introduces surfing to Australia, at Freshwater Beach
1920: Duke Kahanamoku wins two gold medals for USA at the Olympic Games, in Antwerp
1920: Edward, Prince of Wales, is photographed surfing in Hawaii
1922: Agatha Christie, the crime novelist, learns how to surf in South Africa
1926: Tom Blake and Sam Reid surf Malibu for the first time
1926: The first waves ridden in Europe are filmed in Leca da Palmeira, Portugal
1928: Tom Blake organizes the first Pacific Coast Surfriding Championship, at Corona del Mar
1929: Lewis Rosenberg rides the first waves in the UK
1929: The world's first artificial wave pool is built in Munich, Germany
1930: Tom Blake build the first waterproof surf camera housing
1930: The "Swastika" is the world's first mass-produced surfboard
1933: San Onofre is surfed for the first time
1935: Alfred Gallant Jr. applies floor wax on his surfboard
1935: Tom Blake writes "Hawaiian Surfboard", surfing's first full-length surf book
1935: Tom Blake introduces the first stabilizing fin in a surfboard
1935: John "Doc" Ball founds the Palos Verdes Surf Club, in California
1935: Tom Blake writes an article on how to build a surfboard in "Popular Mechanics" magazine
1940: Gene "Tarzan" Smith paddles a 14-foot board from Oahu to Kauai, in Hawaii
1943: Hawaiian big wave pioneer Dickie Cross dies at Sunset Beach, in Hawaii
1944: John Crowell, Charles Bates and Harold Cauthery work on surf forecasting for the Allied Invasion of Normandy
1943: Tom Blake adds a twin fin system to a hollow timber board
1945: Frank Adler founds the Australian Surf Board Association
1948: John Lind founds the Waikiki Surf Club
1951: Hugh Bradner, a MIT physicist, produces the world's first neoprene wetsuit
1952: Jack O'Neill opens his "Surf Shop", in San Francisco
1954: Hobie Alter opens his surfboard factory, at Dana Point
1954: Wally Froiseth organizes the Makaha International Surfing Championships
1956: First waves ridden in France, at Biarritz
1956: Dave Sweet shapes the world's first polyurethane foam surfboard
1957: Mike Stange, Greg Noll, Pat Curren, Mickey Munoz and Harry Schurch ride Waimea Bay for the first time
1957: Hollywood surf movie "Gidget" is released
1958: Marge Calhoun becomes the world's first female surfing champion after winning the Makaha International
1959: John Severson founds "The Surfer", the world's first surfing magazine
1961: Philip Edwards rides Banzai Pipeline, in Hawaii, for the first time
1961: Dick Dale pioneers the surf music genre
1962: The Beach Boys release "Surfin' Safari"
1962: Bob Evans founds "Surfing World", Australia's first surf magazine
1964: The World Surfing Championships hit Manly Beach, in Australia
1964: Eduardo Arena is elected the first president of the International Surfing Federation (ISF)
1964: John Kelly founds Save Our Surf
1966: Bruce Brown releases "The Endless Summer", the world's first surf movie
1967: Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Knottmeyer surf Mavericks for the first time
1969: Greg Noll rides one of the biggest waves of all time at Makaha, Hawaii
1969: Steve Russ, a kneeboarder, invents the surf leash in Santa Cruz, California
1969: Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer found Rip Curl in Torquay, Australia
1969: Alan Green and John Law found Quiksilver in Torquay, Australia
1970: O'Neill markets the one-piece fullsuit
1971: Tom Morey invents the bodyboard
1971: Jeff Hakman wins the first edition of the Pipeline Masters
1972: Kelly Slater, the most successful competitive surfer of all time, is born in Cocoa Beach, Florida
1973: Ian Cairns wins the first world surfing title, at the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Championships
1973: Gordon and Rena Merchant found Billabong in the Gold Coast, Australia
1978: Hawaiian lifeguard, surfer and waterman Eddie Aikau, 31, is lost at sea, south of Molokai, never to be found
1979: Michel Barland designs the world's first commercial computerized shaping machine
1980: Simon Anderson creates the "Thruster" surfboard fin system
1982: Ian Cairns founds the Association of Surfing Professionals
1983: Michael Ho wins the first edition of the Triple Crown of Surfing
1984: Glen Hening and Tom Pratte found the Surfrider Foundation
1984: Tom Carrol and Kim Mearig win the first ever ASP World Tour
1986: Mike Stewart and Ben Severson surf Teahupoo, in Tahiti, for the first time
1986: Herbie Fletcher tows Tom Carroll, Martin Potter and Gary Elkerton into 10-foot waves at Pipeline, Hawaii
1987: "California Games" is the world's first video game featuring surfing
1992: Kelly Slater wins his first ASP World Tour title
1995: The Olympic Movement recognizes the International Surfing Association as the world's governing body for surfing
2000: Laird Hamilton rides the Millennium Wave at Teahupoo, Tahiti
2005: Clark Foam, producer of 60% of the world's surfboard blanks, shuts down
2011: Garrett McNamara rides the biggest wave of all time, in Nazaré, Portugal

Have we missed a key date? Tell us.