Surf's Up


According to the Etymology Dictionary, the word ‘surf’ came into use in 1685. The word ‘surf’ is derived from the Indian word ‘suffe’, which means coastline. Portuguese sailors picked up this word in the 1600s and suffe soon became surf as we know it today. The origins may be Indian but the sport is redundant in the very country that gave the sport its name. This, even though surfing as a pastime or as a way of life generally promotes health and spiritual well-being to make one a better individual.

With a coastline that stretches over 7000 kilometers along the southern end of the continent, India is an untapped market for this sport. There is a gross misconception amongst youth that the waters of India aren’t surf-able enough as the waves aren’t as big as the waves one gets elsewhere in the world. The problem isn’t the lack of swells but rather the lack of initiative on our part to find surf-able spots in our country. There are waves in India all year round, averaging three to five feet, but the season for big waves (eight feet plus) is from May through September. This is the pre-monsoon and monsoon season. At this time, the surf ranges from 8 to 15 feet and bigger. Although these monsoon waves are often blown out and messy, there are times when the conditions are fantastic — with super glassy and offshore winds — and then, you can expect some worldclass waves.
Along the western coastline, the swell direction is usually best when coming from the south or west; although an occasional north swell does provide good surfing conditions. On the eastern coastline, the swell is almost always from the south or slightly south-east direction. Straight long beaches are also a dominant feature of the Indian coastline. Taking a leaf from surfers in Florida and Australia, nowadays, it is also possible to create flat-water surfing spots that enables surfing across water bodies which may not have waves; for instance, in fresh water bodies. Flat-water surfing is about creating an ambience for surfing and enabling surf sports in natural water bodies that may not have swells needed for surfing. It makes surfing accessible and does away with the wrong notion that India doesn’t have waves big enough or surfing. It is also less risky, easy and independent of the weather forecasts needed for big swelling waves.
Surfing is one of the most rigorous fitness regimes in any watersport and has been embraced by men and women across the globe for that reason. It is a sport that helps to bring about unity within the person by providing physical fitness and giving mental peace. It is a sport meant not only for men but also for women looking to find new forms of fitness and recreation. With international travellers and surfers waiting to tap Indian waters, this is the time for there to be awareness with the youth to know their turf. We need to know enough about the sport to help form deeper ties with the surfers from across the globe. With changing times, many small surf clubs have cropped up in India where surfing is being promoted and taught. The Mantra Club in Mulki, the Shaka Surf Club in Mumbai and the Surfing Yogis in Puri  are a few of the prominent groups that help young guns train in the art of surfing. If we can create and identify surf spots along the coastline on both sides of the country, then multiple collaborations can help promote more tourism and create employment of millions living along the lengthy coast along with providing recreation for the masses. With the increasing  numbers of tourists flocking to India, it’s time for us to use the vast expanse of coastline to find the best surf spots around our country.

The Surf Festival @ Puri: 7th Feb to 9th Feb
The founder of Surfing Yogis, Sanjay Samataray, is the man behind the latest phenomenon in the surfing scene in India: the Surf Festival at Puri this month that features flatwater surfing. Talking about starting a venture like this, he says, “Three years back when we started up, we were looking for proper swells around the Indian coastline to create and identify surfing spots around the country. Then we realised that there was an option for flat-water surfing in India. Given the mainstream lifestyle of Indian youth, we felt it would be easier to locate spots where we could entertain surfing sports and races even in fresh-water bodies along with the major seas and oceans around the country.” The Surfing Yogis believe that surfing will help create a healthier lifestyle among the youth of India as it depends solely on the motivation and technique of the surfer and doesn’t affect our ecological barriers. In an effort to explore the possibilities of this sport, they have collaborated with surfers from across the globe to create a platform for the masses to come explore the waves of Puri. They believe that surfing is a spiritual journey and they want to create an atmosphere where surfers can come explore India as well as promote the sport across the country.
Samataray says, “This epic event will be a pipeline to connect powers of sun healing with the art of surfing to become a subtle tool of meditation,
which will help synchronise all of us with the cosmos. It will be the conjunction for many more such surf events across the country with more awareness and more spirit to explore the yet unknown waters around India.”
From all the talk about surfing, it seems that surfing and spirituality are intertwined; if we can feel emotions that helps one attain some form of mental peace and serenity, then we, as a nation, should give surfing a shot. After all, what do we have to lose? So let the wind be always on your back, let the sun shine warm upon your face and let the good times roll among the mystical waves!

Seven Best Movies on Surfing

  • Big Wednesday-1978
  • Blue Crush
  • Surfer, Dude
  • Stranger than Fiction
  • Surf’s Up
  • Blue Crush 2
  • Loose Change
Best Surf Spots in India
  • Kanyakumari
  • Kovalam Beach
  • Rameswaram
  • Auroville
  • Jagannatha Puri
  • Gokarna
  • The Andaman Island Archpelago

Volume 1 Issue 8


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