International surfer Ajeesh Ali crowned new champion at Indian Open of Surfing; Kamali Moorthi defends titles with double victory

Tamil Nadu surfers sweep all four titles at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing held under the auspices of Surfing Federation of India

Published - June 02, 2024 06:53 pm IST - MANGALURU

Ajeesh Ali after winning the Men’s Open category at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Ajeesh Ali after winning the Men’s Open category at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Kamali Moorthi after winning the Women’s Open and Groms Girls and U-16 categories titles at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Kamali Moorthi after winning the Women’s Open and Groms Girls and U-16 categories titles at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Tamil Nadu surfers swept the top honours in all four categories of the fifth edition of three-day Indian Open of Surfing (IOS) which ended at Sasihithlu Beach in Mangaluru on Sunday.

The categories were Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Groms Boys & U-16 and Groms Girls & U-16. The IOS was the official national championship of the Surfing Federation of India, which is the governing body for surfing and stand-up paddling.

Ajeesh Ali, who competed in the Paris Olympics qualifiers (2023 ISA World Surfing Games, El Salvador) last year, was crowned the new IOS champion in the Men’s Open category.

Teenage sensation Kamali Moorthi completed a double victory by winning both the Women’s Open and Groms Girls & U-16 categories, successfully defending her titles. Another Tamil Nadu teenager, Tayin Arun, impressed the judges with his maneuvers and was crowned the new IOS champion in the Groms Boys & U-16 category, a release from the Federation said.

The championship was organized by the Surfing Swami Foundation and hosted by the Mantra Surf Club. Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Chairman of the New Mangalore Port Authority, and Dhananjaya Shetty, Director of the Surfing Swami Foundation, awarded the winners with cash prizes, trophies, and certificates.

Winners and the runners-up of the 5th Indian Open of Surfing with dignitaries in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Winners and the runners-up of the 5th Indian Open of Surfing with dignitaries in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Final day’s action

The final day’s action began with the semi-finals of the Groms 16 and Under Boys category. Local favorite Pradeep Pujar led the pack with a score of 8.80, advancing to the finals alongside Prahlad Sriram (8.50), Harish P (8.26), and Tayin Arun (6.76).

The action then moved to the semi-finals of the Groms 16 and Under Girls category. Tamil Nadu surfers Dhamayanthi Sriram and Mahathi Srinivasabharathi qualified for the finals with scores of 4.57 and 3.54 respectively. Kamali Moorthi, the top seed from Tamil Nadu, had already been granted a final spot based on her national ranking.

Groms 16 and Under Boys category

The finals of the Groms 16 and Under Boys category saw Tayin Arun impressing the judges with his acrobatics, winning his first title at IOS with a score of 10.17. Harish P (8.40) and Prahlad Sriram (7.47) made it a thrilling competition, finishing second and third, respectively. Mantra Surf Club’s Pradeep Pujar finished fourth with a score of 5.34.Speaking after winning his first-ever IOS title, Mr. Arun said that it was his first IOS title and he was looking forward to win more titles in future.

Groms 16 and Under Girls category

The final day also featured the Groms 16 and Under Girls finals, an all-Tamil Nadu affair. Kamali Moorthi emerged victorious with a commanding score of 12.17, securing the title by a wide margin. Dhamayanthi Sriram (5.93) and Mahathi Srinivasabharathi (2.07) finished second and third, respectively.

Men’s Open category

Ajeesh Ali in action at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Ajeesh Ali in action at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The highlight event of the day was the Men’s Open Surfing final, another all Tamil Nadu affair, featuring the top-seeded surfers from across the country. Ajeesh Ali, who represented India at the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador, walked away with the championship title with the highest score of the day (14.70). The intense action and thrilling competition in the category captivated the audience. Srikanth D. (12.57) and Sanjaikumar S. (11.10) took the runner-up and second runner-up titles, respectively, while Sanjay Selvamani came in fourth with a score of 6.17.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ali said that he was the runner-up in the previous edition. “Winning the Indian Open of Surfing was something I desperately wanted. My experience in El Salvador last year for the Paris Olympics qualifiers allowed me to compete with some of the world’s best surfers and learn a great deal from them. The conditions today were challenging with slow waves, but luckily, I had a board specifically for such conditions. The competition was fierce, as my fellow surfers are among the best in the country.”

Women’s Open category

Sugar Banarse in action at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Sugar Banarse in action at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Women’s Open surf category finals concluded the event with fierce competition among India’s leading female surfers. Kamali Moorthi emerged victorious, winning the IOS women’s championship title in a thrilling final. Kamali scored 12.40 in the finals, narrowly edging out 2022 champion Sugar Banarse from Goa, who scored 12.23 and finished as the runner-up by just 0.17 points. Neha Vaid from Mumbai came in third with a score of 2.97.

Speaking post winning the double titles, Ms. Moorthi said that she was thrilled to have successfully defended both her titles. “The Women’s Open category was challenging because I was competing against Sugar Banarse, the 2022 champion. Despite this, I managed to stay calm and not let the pressure get to me before the finals.”

Head Judge speaks

Speaking on the surfing conditions on Sunday, Dylan Amar from Indonesia, who was the Head Judge at Indian Open of Surfing, said: “The conditions on Sunday were excellent, making the venue highly competitive. Over the three days, the athletes put on an impressive show. If they maintain this level of effort, Indian surfers could soon make it to the Olympics.”

Participants at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing competition at Sasihithlu Beach, in Mangaluru on Sunday.

Participants at the 5th Indian Open of Surfing competition at Sasihithlu Beach, in Mangaluru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: PTI

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