Sri Lanka set to come of age in surfing

Arugam Bay is getting ready.
For an awesome Surf Season!

Sri Lanka, known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is very much known for its versatile culture, customs and great range of spicy food as well for its shiny golden beaches. In the summer as well as in the winter Sri Lankan beaches are always filled with a humongous number of foreign visitors who come to encounter the hospitality of these astonishing shores.

Yet Sri Lanka was missing something in that its shores had to be picture perfect or simply missing surfing in a professional manner. But now eventually the sport has found its dimension in the country and all the materials are there to write down the success story of Sri Lankan surfing in the near future. First of all let’s have a flashback about the history of the sport in Sri Lanka.

Surfing was introduced to Sri Lanka around the 1960s where American surfer Rusty Miller and three of his friends made their mark on the shores of Ceylon for the first time when they went on a trip to surf on the west coast of the island.

Hikkaduwa hosted the first Sri Lankan surfing tournament in 1993. Channa Navaratne planned the event with the help of a group of Americans to exhibit local talent. Mambo, a local surfing legend from Hikkaduwa won the competition himself. But the sport found its feet properly only after the conclusion of the civil war in 2008. The absence of foreigners due to safety issues were a drawback while LTTE terror engulfed the beaches like Arugam Bay and Pasikudah created additional drawbacks and surfing was hidden behind the dark clouds in the 30 year long war.

But after Sri Lanka found the peace that it was looking for many years, surfing became an instant hit across the shores of this little island nation tailor-made for surfing and the air was clear for any person to access the sport freely. Arugam Bay, Hikkaduwa, and Weligama became the hot spots for the Sri Lankan surfing game right after the war was declared as officially over. Arugam Bay hosted the first major World Surf League qualification event. This made a major turnaround in surfing in Sri Lanka where more buzz was created in local communities as well as foreign communities about surfing in the island.

A much-needed accomplishment was achieved by the surfing community in Sri Lanka when the Sri Lankan Surf Federation was established in 2017 to encourage people to participate in this sport and the biggest achievement in the Sri Lankan surfing game was the National Surf Championship when its inaugural season was staged in 2018 and the winner going on to compete in the World Surf Games in Japan.

One of the proudest and foremost triumphs in the short history of Sri Lankan Surfing came in 2018 when the first Sri Lankan national team toured India where they finished second and third in the Cove-Long Point Surfing Championships in Chennai.

Three years later 2011 marked a proud moment when a first-ever Pro Surf League competition as part of the World Surf League took place that year at Arugam Bay. This marked the start of an era where the country was on the international stage for the first time and the locals were exposed to the possibilities of surfing as an international sport for the first time where in 2019 the second edition of the competition took place in what became the largest surfing event ever to be conducted in Sri Lanka called the So Sri Lankan Pro Surf Competition held as part of the World Surfing League Qualifying Series 3000 at Arugam Bay with a large number of international participants.

It’s a journey with a lot of ups and downs, but there is a long way to go. The surfing story of Sri Lanka is very promising with all the talent, attention and the awesome locations the country has that is tailor made for surfing.

The recent government involvement means there will be more backbone strength for the sport in the country and the sponsors are now sailing towards the national arena of Sri Lankan surfing. With all these positives it can be agreed that Sri Lanka is heading in the right direction to become a stronghold in the game of surfing.


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