Surfboating: The coolest, craziest boat sport few have heard about

Never heard of Surfboating? Neither had I until a few days ago. After going down a deep dark rabbit hole of boating on the internet as I often do, I found a few entries on the madness. I dove in and did a search that yielded info on what is a long and storied history of the sport in Australia. describes a brief history of the sport.

Before the days of compact combustion engines, surf lifesavers used to row wooden long boats out through the surf to rescue stranded swimmers. As with all surf rescue techniques, lifesavers would compete with other each other to practice rescues and hone their skills.The first surfboat race was held at Manly Beach all the way back in 1908. Now we can fast-forward back to the present day where rescues are conducted using high-powered outboard engines on inflatable craft, but the subtle art of rowing a boat head first into 8 foot swells has stuck around.

Basically it’s a handful of folks rowing in what appears to be a long capped, dory-ish boat with one person steering from the back. While the premise is pretty simple, I’m betting the execution is quite a bit more difficult. The idea is that you start on the beach, row out past what could be 12 foot breakers swing a round a buoy and surf the waves back in to the beach. First one to touch sand wins. It looks both gnarly and super fun if you’re a whitewater enthusiast.

Check out the 2019 Men’s Finals or Crashes and wipeouts -videos below or this piece from Redbull which gives a great history lesson and overview of the sport.

By Tim Romano.