“NC Surfing History Project” presented June 20th, 2017

When one thinks about the words history and surfing together, the mind may conjure up images of surfers challenging the big waves off Hawaii, or perhaps even of Samoans or Australians riding a lonely beach in the remote Pacific. Then, when one considers the famous surfing locations along the East Coast of the United States, one might dream up images of Cocoa Beach, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey. One might not be inclined to include North Carolina among such hallowed surfing locales, but that would be a mistake. Although it is impossible to determine who rode the first wave or made the first surfboard at any of these places, we do know that surfing has been taking place in the Old North State for more than a century. –– John Hair and Ben Wunderly from the book “Surfing NC – A Timeline of the History of the Sport of Surfing in North Carolina”

The History of Surfing in North Carolina

WHERE: Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC

WHEN: Tuesday, June 20th at 2 p.m.

ADMISSION: Free (Plus Book Copies will be FREE!)

SPEAKER: Ben Wunderly, Associate Museum Curator, North Carolina Maritime Museum Beaufort

Who would ever have known that surfing has been taking place in North Carolina for more than a hundred years? The Old North State has the good fortune of being among the top surfing destinations in the country, as well as producing some very talented surfers and custom surfboard makers. Come join us for a look at this sport of kings as we discuss the results of research into North Carolina’s role in the history of surfing. From records dating back to the 19th century up to more modern events, we will try to leave no board unwaxed!


Some additional information is available from the Virginian-Pilot online article HERE.


Image on the left: Atlantic Surf Shop in New Hanover county, 1965. Because there weren’t too many places available to buy surfboards at the time some tar heel surfers took matters into their own hands. Custom made surfboards were produced at this small beach cottage on the Carolina coast by Herman Pritchard and Sonny Danner.


About the Authors:

John Hairr

A native of North Carolina, John Hairr has spent a lifetime exploring the history and lore of the Old North State.  He is the author of numerous works chronicling the natural history and culture of the region, including From Mermaid’s Point to Raccoon Falls: A Guide to the Upper Cape Fear and CSS Chickamauga: The South’s Forgotten Cruiser.  He is perhaps best known for his work documenting the bloody days of the American Revolution in the Carolinas, but he is also known for his work chronicling the history of the coastal region of the Carolinas. Hairr currently serves as the Curator of Education at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and is the coordinator of the Surfing NC project, an effort that has turned up stories of many sometimes forgotten pioneers of the sport of surfing from North Carolina and beyond.


Benjamin Wunderly

Originally from southern Virginia, Benjamin Wunderly had his introduction to North Carolina on the Outer Banks. His fascination with the ocean has led him to spend almost 25 years of his life exploring the beaches, sand bars, tidal creeks and waterways of coastal North Carolina from Currituck to Brunswick County. He takes pride in researching and sharing all things maritime from Tar Heel country. Having spent 18 years working under the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural resources at educational centers in Dare, Onslow and Carteret Counties, he has learned extensively about the rich history, culture and environment of eastern North Carolina. Currently the Associate Curator of Education at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, Wunderly’s latest project has been a collaboration with Hairr to uncover the history of the sport of surfing in North Carolina. They have received help from numerous folks along the way, including the Cape Fear region’s own surfing experts Joseph Funderburg and Peter Fritzler.


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