Captain James Cook first observed surfing in 1778 in Hawaii, introducing the sport to the Western world, according to Kaplan International. The first official surfing contest was held in California in 1928. In 2011, Panamanian surfer Gary Saavedra set the world record for longest ride at 3 hours 55 minutes.
Although Saavedra set the world record, he did so on an artificial wave created by a power boat, reports Kaplan International. The longest ride on a single wave happened in the Amazon River, clocking in at 33 minutes. The tallest recorded wave was measured at 1,738 feet and happened in 1958 in southern Alaska, where it was witnessed by a couple out on a fishing boat.
Although surfers and non-surfers may appear identical to onlookers when on the beach, surfers call non-surfers who pretend "hodads," writes Kaplan International. Humans aren't the only mammal capable of surfing, either; Huntington Beach in California holds the Annual Surf City Surf Dog contest to benefit animal welfare organizations, judging dogs based on their confidence and how long they remain on the board. It's possible to surf on rivers as well as oceans, as some rivers have tidal bores caused by a backflow that creates localized waves.