As the autumn winds pick up and the south coast gets its first serious buffeting by the mighty English Channel, The Surfing Museum in Brighton is back!
An exhibition of British Surfing History is on show at Brighton Fishing Museum until October 9 and introduces us to the most regal of surfers.
With a great online resource in place, the museum is in the process of setting up a permanent physical presence on Brighton beach.
In the meantime this temporary exhibition offers a great chance to learn about the fascinating history of surfing in the British Isles.
Princess Victoria Ka'iulani - expert surfer who lived in Brighton in 1892. Courtesy The Surfing Museum.
Made possible by the generous sponsorship of Oxbow UK, this latest show explores the hidden history of British surfing, including the stories of a host of royal wave riders, from a crown princess of Hawaii to our very own Prince Charles.
The intriguing tale begins more than 100 years ago as Princess Victoria Ka’iulani took to the foaming waters off Brighton.
It was in 1892, while living in England, that the Crown Princess of Hawaii demonstrated her expert surfing skills on the south coast. Imagine the local fishermen’s surprise as they saw a long-haired foreign dignitary stood on a thin strip of wood, riding the waves.
However strange it must have appeared, it started a craze. Many years later, before he lost his heart to Mrs Simpson, the future King Edward VIII learnt how to surf on a trip to Hawaii in 1920.
In 1978, the late Viscount Ted Deerhurst became Britain’s first pro surfer. Part of the British team that had finished third at the World Amateur Championships earlier that year, the viscount made the semi-finals in his first pro contest.
The Queen Mother dances the Hula with the father of modern surfing Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii in 1966. Courtesy The Surfing Museum.
Sadly, the well-liked surfer died in Hawaii in 1997, but his memory lives on in Brighton where visitors to the exhibition can see his North Shore Lightning Bolt surfboard.
Prince Charles surfed in Australia and Cornwall, where he had something of a reputation for dropping in on local surfers’ waves (not the done thing in such circles).
But he made up for it by becoming patron of the British Surfing Association and surfing is now one of the fastest growing sports in this country.
Also on show are rare surfboards, charting the history of surfing on Britain’s shores, old wetsuits and even a bar or two of vintage surf wax.