Riding a wave of success

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-08 07:53
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Surfers ride high to catch the perfect wave during the Hainan Surfing Open in December in Wanning, Hainan province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Flanked by swaying coconut trees, the secluded beach at Riyue Bay in Hainan province is an idyllic and usually tranquil setting. But all that changed when the beach in Wanning city hosted the Hainan Surfing Open in early December amid, quite literally, waves of excitement.

Spectators gathered, watched and cheered as surfers paddled out to the sea, waited for the right moment, harnessed their adrenaline and rode a fast-moving and unpredictable wall of water.

Rows of stalls selling surfing gear, snacks and handmade crafts sat alongside tattoo booths, adding to the atmosphere as visitors got to sample a little beach life.

Now in its 11th year, the event epitomizes surf culture in China.

It all started with someone's dream. His name was Brendan Sheridan, a California-born surf enthusiast who was attracted by the unspoiled coves and powerful waves of the island province of Hainan. He actually moved to the tropical island in 2006 and launched the surfing contest two years later.

Back then, just two surfers out of the 40 participants were Chinese. However, this year, supported by eight surf clubs from across the country and various corporate sponsors, 81 contestants, mostly Chinese, took part.

"So much has changed since the first competition," says Sheridan. "I'm proud to have this competition as a way of measuring how much surfing in China has progressed."

Since the creator of the event planned to return to his home country, he passed on the baton, or more appropriately the surfboard, to the future organizer, Li Jing, in 2015.

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