A little beach town on the east coast of India, which is known only for its temples, sculptures and a weekend get-away for Chennaites has a lot more than what meets the eye. Look towards the far end of the beach in the direction of the shore temple, you will see heads bobbing in the water and colourful surf boards.
While surfing is still alien to India, it’s been one of the popular haunts for surfers locally and internationally for decades. Dave and Rob two Australians lived here and set up shop for surfers. They have been instrumental in helping the first-generation of surfers learn the sport, understand how to build boards and even helped them with launching their businesses. Today, there are ten surf schools of which seven are owned by fishing communities.
Surfing has been a boon to the fishing community said Murthy Megavan from Kovalam fishing Village. He said – “Surf culture has given a sense of ownership to these fishing kids who teach tourists for a living. It also helps them build their personality as they need a lot of soft skills. A lot of them are learning English.”
These children from the fishing community who cannot even afford a pair of shoes are all self-taught surfers.
How and why did this sport become a big part of this fishing community?
A lot of them come from families with alcohol abuse and surfing helps them focus on themselves and gives them a purpose to live for. Every new generation starts earlier than the previous generation. Some have started surfing when they were three years old