There was Jonty Rhodes, excited participants and enough action on land and sea at the first-ever national level surf contest held in Kovalam recently
Surfboards...board shorts…men with washboard abs...a combination you can’t really get bored of. And this past weekend that’s exactly what we were treated to along with some thrilling surfing action. At the Covelong Point Classic Surf Contest at Kovalam (ECR) enthusiastic surfers from across the country came together to participate in the first-ever national level surf contest in Chennai.
There were the experienced and the novice, the young and the old, each trying their best to stay atop the waves, which often menacingly shook them off their frothy back. But the surfers were unrelenting and got back on their surf boards. Within minutes some of them coasted into the distance looking like colourful dots in the horizon. This was an exhibition of how the trend of surfing is catching up in the city. One among the many surfers was Jonty Rhodes, former South African cricketer and presently fielding coach of the Mumbai Indians team. No, he didn’t end up here by accident. The cricketer is a passionate surfer and has been appointed as the International Surfing Ambassador of India by the Surfing Federation of India. Earlier this year he was in Kovalam (Kerala) to inaugurate their surfing championship. “In India I have surfed at Kovalam, Vizag and now in Chennai. The water here is nice and warm,” he said as he got out of the water and was immediately surrounded by fellow surfers for photographs.
In the background, Murthy, the local star from the village, walked about busily instructing his students while a group of young fans followed him around. He seemed pleased with the proceedings. “This is a very important event in my life. Arun Vasu, Yotam Agam (Earth Sync) and I have been planning this for more than two months,” said Murthy, who started the Covelong Point Social Surf School last November and since then has trained nearly 200 students from Kovalam village, Chennai as well as expats. He even has 50 year olds who come to him to learn the sport.
“The idea of organising such an event is to promote the sport. There were also yoga sessions, live music, skate board ramp, ATV rides, DJ and food to give it a carnival feel and attract more people,” said Arun Vasu of TT Logistics, one of the sponsors of the event.
When contestants lined up along the beach, ready for their challenge, there was a lot of rooting and whistling for the local participants. “The majority of the surfers were from Kovalam village. There were about 25 of them and about 15 from Mahabalipuram,” said Arun Vasu. “The competition managed to get around 120 registrations, of which 100 were Indians and 20 were expats.” The participants were from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mangalore and Mumbai. “The youngest participant was 12 and the oldest 67. It was mostly men this time. We got about four women participants. We need to get more women in from next year,” he said.
The humid day didn’t deter people from the city and around from attending this event. Towards evening more people trickled in, many with yoga mats rolled under their arms. It was time for a few asanas. Divya Rolla and Joshna Ramakrishnan led a tent full of yoga aficionados and first timers through a set of postures and suryanamaskars. The yoga ended with a meditation session by Jonni Pollard from Australia.
As the sun set and the tides rose higher the contests came to an end but the party was just about to begin as the bands took to the stage belting out high voltage music. Bands such as SKRAT, Alternate Garage, Franks Got The Funk, Mad Orange Fireworks, DJ Shiva Moon played to keep the audience on their feet. And when Anthony Dassan came on with his brand of folk/fusion music, little could be done to keep the thappankoothus from happening. It didn’t matter where the audience came from, be it Spain or Salem, everybody danced together some even traded dance moves...flamenco for mayil attam.
The event was organised by Covelong Point Social Surf School, Tamil Nadu Tourism, TT Logistics and Earth Sync in association with the Surfing Federation of India