The rising tide in Lankan surfing

The Rising Tide in S. L. Surfing

From Arugam Bay with its legions of thunderous marching waves to the enchantingly golden seas and beaches along the southern coastline, surfing in Sri Lanka has seen a sizable structural shift. From existing entirely as a healthy pastime and tourism tool, in recent years it has thrown on a thicker cloak of sporting legitimacy, stitched together by a collection of passionate practitioners and benevolent organizers of surfing projects and competitions.

Sri Lanka on March 15th, 2014

Last week saw the beginning of one such helpful competition, Red Bull Ride My Wave, a unique local surfing tournament which matches up surfers from the countrya??s two renowned hubs for the sport, the eastern and southern coasts.

By doing this the competition aims to discover the islanda??s best surfers, foster friendly rivalry and promote and develop the sport. The competition is being staged in a two-leg format, with the opening round in the south coast ending on March 15 before action resumes in Arugam Bay from August 5-7.

Surfing on unfamiliar waters, the men from the east nevertheless managed to pull off an upset, spearheaded by Asanka, a name synonymous with the sport locally. Asankaa??s imaginative over-water artillery outgunned anything anyone else could pull out of their arsenal and helped him ride away with the opening lega??s top surfer title.

a??I am delighted with the result. It is a reflection of the hard work of each surfer. It was an honour to captain this team,a?? Asanka revealed.

a??This is going to be good for the future of surfing in Sri Lanka. I am also very proud to be named the best surfer from the three heats as there are many good surfers on both teams.a??

The easta??s team also included Kalu, the winner of last yeara??s Red Bull Local Hero contest in Arugam Bay which secured him an opportunity to travel to the Maldives with international surfinga??s big nameA?Gabriel Villaran.

Speaking during that competition, Villaran revealed that the interest and ability attached to surfing in Sri Lanka was encouraging. Watching some of the surfers in action, it is hard to argue against this point. In Arugam Bay, which has earned the enviable reputation of being a global surfing hotspot, the sea is littered with an army of surfboards, their owners both foreign and local. The same applies to the beaches in the south.

Increasingly, the surfers are young, some in their early teens, and the head start is conspicuous in their considerable skill and style.
Ride My Wave placed a spotlight on this emerging talent, compelling both the east and south coast teams to field at least one surfer below the age of 16.

Shohan Madushanka from Weligama emphatically seized the opportunity, fending off a firm challenge from Arugam Baya??s Dixon to claim the prize for the best young surfer.

With keenness in the sport constantly on the rise, Shohan and Dixon are sure to be joined by many other precocious thrill seekers. And with resources and standards also in the ascendancy, the prospect of the country fielding talent which breaks through at the highest level internationally may not be so farfetched in a few years.


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