Sunday, 9 February 2020

The History & Origins of Sandboarding

This is a re-work of my first ever post published in November 2014, it was regarding the history and origins of sandboarding; it's now 2020 and my journalistic abilities have increased since I made my way out of school, therefore I have decided to have another look at the history of sandboarding; How did it start? Where was it invented? and When was it invented in its original and modern form?

What is Sandboarding?

As the name would imply, sandboarding is snowboarding but instead on a snow capped mountain, it's on a sand dune.

When and where was sandboarding 'invented'?

There are many answers to this, there's no universally accepted correct answer but I'll look at 2 potential contenders. The first possibility goes to Ancient Egypt where it has been allegedly depicted on hieroglyphics that "people would use wooden planks or pieces of pottery for faster travel and for transporting cargo across the sand dunes." (Old Town Inn. n.d.) 

However, it's worth mentioning that there have been no sources of these hieroglyphics available on the internet. Because Egypt is caked in sand dunes and since Egypt is one of the cradles of civilization, it's unknown who was the first pharaoh or peasant to take some wood or clay and go down a sand dune and therefore, we can't give the title 'Inventor of Sandboarding' to one individual. 

It then leads us to China in the Middle Ages where there was a "Chinese ritual where sliding down the dunes in a similar fashion around 800 AD" (Sandboard Magazine, n.d.) Again, there is not enough concrete evidence to support this theory.

When and where was modern sandboarding 'invented'?

But if we're talking about Modern Sandboarding in the form we know and love today, with wooden boards, with a competitive element, and more modern because it's much closer to the present day: That can go to one of 2 places, the first goes to Brazil, "Modern, upright sandboarding is believed to have been invented in Brazil in the 1940s. In recent years, though, advances in materials and techniques have led to much faster speeds and longer jumps than ever imagined before—professional sandboarders routinely reach speeds in excess of 60 mph (100 kph) and jump distances of 50 feet (15m) or more." (Kissell, J. 2019.) 

The story, if confirmed would mean that surfers of Brazil, specifically Santa Catarina; would go sandboarding "as an alternative to surfing if there were low, or no tidal waves." (Actionhub Reporters, 2017)

The second possible contender is the United States; "there are stories of people in the 50's riding car hoods down the dunes in California and people on sand boards getting pulled behind cars on the beach in Oregon, USA.(Sengers, M. 2017) 

But there's also Dr. Dune in Oregon who on his own website states that: "I myself started sandboarding on a slalom water ski in 1972 and was introduced to this sport by friends who were sliding down the dunes on similar planks in the early 60's. I have seen photos of people standing up on boards with no bindings from the 50's but, again, these were devises all ready in existence for other sports or other purposes and simply tried out on the sand." (Sandboard Magazine, n.d.) 

It's worth mentioning that these 'boards' were not designed for sand, they were often snowboards, waterboards, or other wooden boards that were suited to other sports; the account from Dr. Dune also strengthens another claim: "What is known is that sand boarding has been developing as a thriving sport since the early 60's. People were sliding down dunes on planks and standing up on boards with no bindings." (Sengers, M. 2017).


Ancient Sandboarding was most likely invented in Ancient Egypt however there's no evidence on the internet of any hieroglyphics to confirm this; however, if we're talking about Sandboarding in its modern form, we have 2 claims, Brazil's weak claim to the 1940s or the United States' stronger claim to the early sixties. Given what we currently know, modern sandboarding would have either been invented in Brazil or the USA and at any point between 1940 to 1970. As I say, there's not one universally accepted right or wrong answer otherwise this post would have ended long ago, so I'll let you decide.

Reference List:

Old Town Inn (n.d.) Sandboarding in Florence: Everything You Need to Know, Available at: (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Sandboard Magazine (n.d.) Who Invented Sandboarding?, Available at: (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Kissell, J. (2019) Sandboarding, Available at: (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Actionhub Reporters (2017) An Introduction to Sandboarding, Available at: (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Sengers, M. (2017) The Art of Sand Boarding, Available at: (Accessed: 9th February 2020)


  1. that's a cool commentary! i didn't knew that!

    1. I know this post is over 4 years old, there might be new information leading to a new origin of sandboarding (and the quality of my work is rubbish compared to now), regardless Thank you so much for the comment.

    2. In the summers of 1964 and 1965 me Moses Street and about 10 of my high school buddies from Rochester, Indiana started sand surfing at Warren Dunes, Michigan on home made boards every chance we could. The boards where made of pine 1x4x6 feet. We were caught up in the surf craze in a world with no waves. I also made a foam and fiberglass surfboard to wake suf on our local lake.

  2. On the dunes of the east shore of Lake Michigan, in the late 1950s/early 1960s, my friends and I would take an 8" wide by 30" long by 1" pine board, put a "bow" on the front, a 1" by 1" cleat at the back, and sand the bottom smooth. Bare feet, no rope, no bindings. That was all we needed for an afternoon of fun on the steep dunes. It was a hike back up, but a thrill going down.