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In tow-in surfing (most often, but not exclusively, associated with big wave surfing), a motorized water vehicle, such as a personal watercraft, tows the surfer into the wave front, helping the surfer match a large wave's speed, which is generally a higher speed than a self-propelled surfer can produce.Surfing-related sports such as paddle boarding and sea kayaking do not require waves, and other derivative sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing rely primarily on wind for power, yet all of these platforms may also be used to ride waves.Another candidate is the botanist Joseph Banks being part of the first voyage of James Cook on the HMS Endeavour, who arrived on Tahiti on 10 April 1769.Lieutenant James King was the first person to write about the art of surfing on Hawaii when he was completing the journals of Captain James Cook upon Cook's death in 1779.

The modern-day definition of surfing, however, most often refers to a surfer riding a wave standing up on a surfboard; this is also referred to as stand-up surfing.

George Freeth decided to revive the art of surfing, but had little success with the huge 16-foot hardwood boards that were popular at that time.

When he cut them in half to make them more manageable, he created the original "Long board", which made him the talk of the islands.

Because of this, surf tends to be larger and more prevalent on coastlines exposed to large expanses of ocean traversed by intense low pressure systems.

Local wind conditions affect wave quality, since the surface of a wave can become choppy in blustery conditions.

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