Along the coasts of India, surfing is slowly gaining traction outside local communities. It seems almost like a foreign sport for those who live in urban cities and up north, but efforts of the Surfing Federation of India (SFI) are paying off as international surfing hits the shores of India.
India is set to host its first-ever World Surfing League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event from August 14-20. The number of aspiring surfers in India is growing every day, and the higher-ups have clearly started to notice – the state government of Tamil Nadu has reportedly sanctioned Rs 2.67 crore for the event. The first-of-its-kind event not only opens the gates of India to surfers from all across the world, but Indian surfers also get their chance at global recognition. With prize money of USD $45,000, surfers will compete at Mahabalipuram on India’s east coast, which many consider as the best spot in the country during the summer swell season.
Springtide got to catch up with Ajeesh Ali, Sanjay Selvamani, Ramesh Budihal and Sivaraj Babu– surfers of India’s first-ever national team, while they gear up to represent the country in the ISA World Surfing Games 2023 in El Salvador later this May. Expectations are high from the team, as their performance at the ISA Worlds will decide if they make it to the Olympics in Paris 2024. The boys attended a 14-day training in Sri Lanka, and are training under India’s surfing coach Patrick Renaud, a former South African professional surfer who coached the English Surf team which finished fourth in the European Surfing Championships.
Ajeesh, Sanjay and Sivaraj, natives of Tamil Nadu and Ramesh – who hails from Karnataka – shared with Springtide their inspirations and how they discovered their passion for surfing very young. As they prepare rigorously for the next month, they are hopeful that their efforts in El Salvador will be a huge step forward for the surfing scene in India.
Catch up with the team here: