According to ‘official’ FIVB records the first Beach Volleyball World Championships was held in 1997 in Los Angeles at the UCLA tennis courts. According to the same records, in 1987, 1988 and 1989 there were events sanctioned FIVB in Brazil, that are considered the birth of the World Tour. At the time however, at least some of those events were billed as World Championships. From some comments I have received, it seems that 1987 was a made for TV event featuring only teams from USA and Brazil. The 1988 event was definitely billed as a World Championships and had participation from all over the world, including Paul Frisby-Smith and Bruce Surman from Australia. I have no idea why FIVB changed the name of the event in hindsight, but they did. But that is not important right now. What is important, is that I just found a video of one of the ‘not World Championships’.
The match shows Karch Kiraly and Pat Powers of the USA playing against Jose Montanaro and Renan Dal Zotto of Brazil from 1987. Every part of this video is fantastic. The smallness of the Americans shorts is matched only by the Brazilians’ actual Speedos. The skills are very old school, no deep dishing is visible, especially the second hits over the net. I think I see an real life openhanded tip. And Karch actually half knocks down the net by accidentally running into it (at 9:45). Oh, and the crowd shots are interesting too.
The video was uploaded by Randy Stoklos and there are some more very old beach volleyball videos on his channel for your enjoyment.