Two important surfing contests recently wrapped up in China.
We asked International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre some questions about the event and how it may help the development of surfing in China.
The event, the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival, presented by Quiksilver, is the name of the event, and includes two contests, both full of love for the sport.
Chris Ward. Photo by Watts for ISA.
The top eight surfing nations surfed in the inaugural ISA CHINA CUP, and the pro surfers from 19 countries surfed in the Hainan Classic, a 4-star ASP event, with $95,000 in prize money. For the first time in history, ISA and ASP events ran back to back.
The winners were the surfers, who were able to compete defending their national colors and the next day, surf for ASP points and $95,000 in prize money. A true win/win for the athletes, all of who expressed their satisfaction and hopes that the event will be back in 2013.
Totally mind blowing. From dozens of huge highway billboards in Hainan Island (the “Hawaii of China”) to daily TV highlights in CCTV, the national TV network of China that reaches 800 million people.
This could very likely be the surfing event with the highest TV audience in the history of the sport. There were national and regional newspapers and TV at the event all day long, all week long, interviewing surfers from around the world, and even covering the very first male Chinese surfers competing in an ASP event in history.
The beach was packed at certain times of the day. You must remember that while Hainan Island (8.5 million inhabitants) is China’s number one beach tourism destination, our event was held in an area away from the big cities - kind of like the North Shore of Hawaii. But as with many top surfing events in the world, the largest amount of spectators were online (webcast was in Chinese, English and Spanish, in true ISA international spirit), or saw it on the daily highlights of CCTV and Hainan TV.
Surfing in China is like a toddler that is just doing its first steps due to our event. There is not a strong beach culture in China, and there are probably less than 200 surfers in a country with 1.3 billion people.
As a lover of the beach and surfing culture and its impact in youth culture around the world, I’m confident that the Chinese will also fall in love with surfing and the enjoyments of wave riding and just hanging out at the beach.
The Chinese have a very strong commitment to working and duty. As we know, surfing offers a much-needed break from the day-to-day stress of modern life. As China’s economic growth continues to expand, a larger middle class with desires for sport, travel and leisure time will surely find in surfing a fun activity, not just good for their bodies, but also for their souls.
The Americas, Europe, and parts of Africa and the Pacific Rim have enjoyed our lifestyle for decades. Now is the turn for the Chinese to discover surfing.
See Page 2 for what happens next, more