With Mahabs Surf Classic 2015 starting today, the surfing community talks about its growing popularity
Mahabalipuram is hoping for clear skies and perfect beach breaks, while the surfing community across the country is buzzing as the second edition of the Mahabs Surf Classic is back after four years. Partnering with Temple Surfboards, Mumu Surf School, the Holystoked Collective (Bengaluru) and the village community of Mahabalipuram, the two day competition includes surfing, skateboarding, catamaran racing, biathlons and live entertainment by local rock bands. The winner gets a week-long trip to hit the waves of Sri Lanka or the Maldives and a custom-made surf board from Temple Surfboards.
Mumu (Mukesh Panjanathan) of Mumu Surf School tells us how surfing has evolved from a holiday ‘curiosity’ to a serious sport—from their first edition of Mahabs Surf Classic (2011) hosting 75 participants, to this year having over 150 signed up so far. “It was like a close – knit get together of surfers in south India. This year, it is an international level competition, with local surf schools dong their preliminary eliminations before getting their best surfers into the finals,”says the 30 – year – old, as he informs us that there are participants from Netherlands, Australia, Sri Lanka and Maldives too. “While the older lot makes use of the sport as a means of fitness, the 20-somethings are extremely competitive and devote every weekend to hitting the waves. I’m even teaching Shekhar, a hydrophobe from Chennai, who wants to get over his phobia and compete in events,” says Mumu who teaches students between five to 66 years.
Competitors from across the country share their views on surfing as a trend.
? Anudeep Andy,
Lonely Surfers School, Vaisakh
“India’s never gone crazy over surfing as it does with mainstream sports such as cricket. Over the last two years I’ve seen more people buying their own boards and investing time and money in it —a definite plus for us — especially a town like Vaisakh.”
? Velu Murugan,
Aloha Surfing School, Goa
“Goa is yet to take surfing as a sport seriously. It is now just a holiday thing for them, and only children take it seriously. We need to start surf competitions in Goa so that more people take part.
? Melville Smythe,
Waveriders Surf School, Vaisakh
“Surfing in Vaisakh is only recently being considered a sport and not a leisure activity. I coach over 80 students. Most of them are children between 12- 20. I have taught international cricket teams too, at Vaisakh.”
Block the dates
? Summer Swell Challenge: Kallialay Surf School, August 23-15
? Surf and Stand Up Paddle Competition: Covelong Surf and Music Festival September 18-20
? Vaisakh longboarding Classic: Lonely Surfers, December
Riding the waves on their custom made surfboards; Samai of Kallialay Surf School and Nico Erni (INDI Surfboards) have come up with a new design which the team would be using for the competition. The handmade board is nicknamed “The Disaster”. The story goes, “We actually wanted to make a new board, but things kept going wrong. So we pushed our limits against odds to make something new-and the Disaster was born. We tested it, it turned out to be one of our better boards,” says Samai.