Surfing in India is on the verge of a mini-revolution. The sport, which was introduced to India by Jack Hebner, more popularly known as the Surfing Swami, in the early 2000s, is seeing a phenomenal growth in popularity.
Today, there are multiple surf schools on the east and west coast of the country, such as the Mantra Surf Club (Mangaluru), Shaka Surf Club (Mangaluru) and the Covelong Surf Point (Chennai). Now festivals such as the ‘Covelong Surfing festival’ and the ‘Indian Open of Surfing’ get more than 100 participants in multiple categories.
Surfing has also helped the fisherfolk, who were among the first ones to pick up the sport. Many young men from the community work as full-time surfing trainers now.
“These surfing festivals bring people from various backgrounds to one place. And here they get to talk, learn and enjoy with each other. Due to surfing, people now realise fisherfolk aren’t hostile or uneducated. And we have also learned a lot from the people who come here,” notes Murthy Megavan, who is often referred to as the father of surfing on the east coast of the country.
Surfing will feature for the first time in the 2020 Olympics. While the Tokyo Games may be too early for India’s surfers, the future is certainly bright.