Vizag fisherman's son makes waves at Puducherry’s second international surfing challenge.
Thirteen-year-old Sathish hugs his shiny new surfboard close, as he poses for photographs with his friend at the beach, the venue of Puducherry’s second international surfing challenge. For the son of a fisherman from Rushikonda near Vishakapatnam, the trip to Puducherry, is a long way from home, being the first time he has stepped out of his fishing village.
Sathish won a custom-made surfing board along with the title of ‘Most promising Indian surfer’ after his stint at the surfing challenge which concluded on Sunday. In a festival where Indian and international surfers braved the ocean for glory, the boy managed to make his mark. The boy who speaks only Telugu came in for a pat in the back from surfers across ages.
“Sathish dropped out of school to help his father bring home more catch from the sea,” says his instructor Andy. “The family needed the money and he has been helping his father out on the boat.”
But how did a poor school dropout make it to an international event, when one surfing lesson today costs easily around Rs. 1,000. He has his tutor Andy to be thankful for. “As Rushikonda is originally a fishing village, boys from the fishing community were curious about surfing when I started to surf a few years back. Some of them wanted to learn and today we have around 12 to 15 of them in the school,” explains Andy who says he does not charge the children of the fisherfolk.
Though many of his friends go to school, Sathish refuses to, mainly due to problems at home. However, his instructor has persuaded him to take school exams as a private candidate, by planning to coach him in his free time. Sathish who got hooked to surfing just a year back, is one of the most promising students in the school. The title was awarded to him for the judges liked his moves, said Juan Reboul, one of the propietors of the Kallialay Surf School, which hosted the event. “We were looking for someone who had potential and put in a lot of hard work into his surfing.”
Little wonder that he is the first student from his group to go out for a competition.
“When I told my friends I was coming here, they all made fun of me, saying what I was going to do in such a big competition.” Now, Sathish has been asking his instructor to call his friends back home with the news. “He has not gone even to Visakapatnam city which is ten kilometres away,” says Anudeep. “For the last three months I have been convincing his parents to allow him to this festival, explaining the kind of potential he has and the opportunities in store for him.”
To Sathish and his friends, the surfboard could be a game-changer.
“The board back at home is not ideal for small kids, as we generally train surfers who are much older than him,” says Andy. For children from the fishing community, who are natural swimmers, there are now plenty of waves to be made.