When we think of surfing, India most likely does not come to our mind, but now things are about to change.
The All India Open of Surfing which was recently held last week on the beautiful Sasihithlu beach near Mangalore, was one of the biggest surfing events held in India so far, with the best of Indian and International surfers participating in the tournament.
16 year old female surfer, Tanvi Jagadish, one of the 120 competitors, is one of the rising number of female surfers that are hitting the waves. When asked about how surfing has affected her, she says: “Surfing has changed my life and empowered me with a strong voice to speak to the society. People in India think surfing is just for boys and I faced a similar problem when my mother would tell me that I would not get married as I would be too tanned and falling on the board would bruise my face. But my message is that anybody can surf, there is no age limit and it keeps you really fit”. During the days she surfed really well and surely made her mother proud when she made it to the final 4 of the women’s class.
The founder of Mantra Surf Club is Jack Hebner from USA, popularly known as ‘Surfing Swami’ who is one of the first practitioners and the biggest booster of surfing in India. He came to India in the 1970’s and in 1976 got the status of Swami. Standing on the beach overlooking the event, Jack tells us his story: “!2 years ago, I set up the first Indian surfing school right here in our ashram in Mulki, [a town near the port city of Mangalore]. In the beginning it was mostly foreigners who came, but now there is a complete change in perspective as the Indians themselves are wanting to do it. Earlier people would come and watch me surf but seldom showed interest. What was missing was an Indian surfer, and when that happened it changed everything, like throwing a match on dry grass, Woosh!”
To shoot this event I needed big big zoom lens, as waves were braking very far from the shore. After working in Portugal Rip Curl, when you run away from the wave wile standing 5 meters from water, I was a bit unprepared. 400 mm or even 600mm could have been helpful. But instead I was thinking to use my Diving licence. Like in Go Pro adds, photographers just swim next to the surfer, to get close to the action. It is have to tried!! I was shooting, going in the water as far as I can and captured some good moments on shore, especially when the rain started
See some of the pictures I made