Illustration: Holly Monger

Duke Kahanamoku is the man who gave surfing to the world. Relatively few surfers alive today could claim to have encountered his surfing first hand, although all owe their own surfing existence in some part, to him. His timeline illustrates why The Duke will always be one of the most important wave riders in history. And yes, Duke is his real first name.

1890: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1911: Breaks 100 yard freestyle swimming world record by 4.6 seconds in his first ever race, as well as 2 other world records. (AAu refuses to acknowledge the records initially).

1912: Wins gold and breaks 100m freestyle world record in Stockholm Olympics, as well as silver in relay.

1912: Introduces surfing to California and America’s East Coast.

1914: Introduces surfing to Australia at Freshwater beach, Sydney pushing Isabel Latham into a wave after building his own board from local pine.

1920: Takes then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) surfing at Waikiki.

1920: Starts calling for introduction of surfing into olympics.

1920: Wins double gold in Antwerp olympics (100m freestyle, 4 x 200m freestyle).

1922: Relocates to California to work as an actor/lifeguard.

1924: Wins silver 100m freestyle at Paris olympics (Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame wins

1924: Meets a young Tom Blake, who lifeguarded the same beach in Santa Monica.

1925: Rescues 8 fishermen from drowning in Newport Harbor with his surfboard.

1929: Reputedly rides the longest wave ever, over a mile, in Waikiki.

1932: Wins bronze in water polo at Los Angeles olympics, aged 42.

1940: Marries Nadine Alexander on the Big Island.

1960: Appointed Ambassador of Aloha for State of Hawaii.

1965: Inducted to both swimming and surfing Halls of Fame.

1965: First ever Duke Invitational Surf Meet held at Makaha, won by Fred Hemmings.

1967: Dies of heart attack in Waikiki, aged 77.

1990: Bronze statue erected in Waikiki on the 100th anniversary of his birth.


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