- Providing a platform for the local surfing community
Red Bull recently announced “Ride My Wave 2022”, an international surfing championship to be held this weekend (29-30 January 2022) at the Hikkaduwa coast in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The event is open to amateur and pro surfers and is expected to give wings to the local community by bringing alive a contest of skills where local and international competitors go neck to neck in a two-day-long competition. Through this programme, Red Bull aims to provide surfers the opportunity to showcase their talents as well as to promote the sport which is of wide global appeal.
The surfer community in Sri Lanka, apart from contributing to the local economy via tourism, keeps the coast and surrounding environment in pristine condition – a fact that often goes unrecognised.
Sri Lanka has a strategic advantage as an island nation and thus can be promoted as a hub for surfing, in turn generating foreign revenue as well as providing lucrative livelihoods to the surfing and coastal community in Sri Lanka.
In conversation with Red Bull Ride My Wave Contest Director Sandika Thushara aka “Mambo”, he told us that he has been with Red Bull Ride My Wave from the very beginning. “This is a great event for young and upcoming surfers to show their talent. The event obviously has international standards and we are glad to be part of this,” he commented, adding that since surfing is a lifestyle and a serious sport, we need to build and broaden the local community around the sport.
Red Bull intends to broaden the horizons of surfing as well as other sports empowering local youth and promoting the spirit of sportsmanship among them. “Mambo”, along with the team, hopes that Ride My Wave will be a springboard for local surfers to find a platform locally and globally as well as to dispel misconceptions about the lifestyle through official recognition. The event is open to the general public and will feature local as well as foreign surfers.
On the topic of what makes Sri Lanka’s demography ideal for surfing is the presence of different levels and types of waves for different levels of proficiency in the sport. We had a chat with Lucky, a pro surfer who hails from the southern part of Sri Lanka and has won global acclaim, to find out more.
“We are surrounded by stunning beaches that attract the whole world, yet surfing is a strange sport to many,” Lucky said, adding that this is why he fell in love with it.
For him, surfing did not come naturally; it took several years of practice to get the hang of it. In the beginning, every moment he spent out at sea on his board was a huge risk he took; anything could have happened at any moment – the ocean is unpredictable. Nevertheless, each time he was pulled under, he got back up and swam to the shore with new dedication to the sport.
He told us that many people live to work, but he lives to enjoy life. “The beach is my office; I work when I want to, I go on vacation when I want to, I’m always having fun. That is the life of Lucky,” he stated.
Although foreigners may come searching for Lucky today, he told us that tomorrow, there will be many more people like him for them to learn from and watch. “Just like life, surfing will help us win over the world, so let’s surf, Sri Lanka,” he expressed.
His love for surfing and eagerness to spread it to other Sri Lankana led him to open his very own surfing school in his hometown Weligama. The shop is visited by both locals and tourists alike all clamouring to learn and master the art of the sport and begin riding the waves. Lucky encouraged anyone that would like to begin surfing to pick up a board and get into the water. “Don’t stop trying, don’t give up, and one day, you will be a pro.”
It seems that Lucky’s dreams may come to fruition soon. Minister of Youth and Sports Namal Rajapaksa also expressed his support in both Red Bull’s and Lucky’s dreams.
“Our country holds many talented surfers. Giving them a platform to shine and showcase their skills is an endeavour we support Red Bull on,” Rajapaksa noted.
The Minister further detailed that surfing is a sport that gives both physical and mental relief and at the same time, it is also an Olympic sport, which greatly benefits the tourism industry.
He added that with Red Bull’s support, the surfing youth of our country have a very real chance of becoming Olympians one day. Rajapaksa concluded: “I believe that Red Bull Ride My Wave is not just a competition but an incredible learning experience as well.”