Holly Beck talks the talk and surfs the surf with Korduroy.tv's InnerViews...
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The Saltwater Buddhas, of the Surf For Life Organization, had a great trip to El Salvador, where they met up with Holly Beck and significant progress was made in constructing the first ever High School in the remote fishing town of El Cuco, El Salvador. Have a look at the video clips below...
You know what they say when you fall off the horse... Holly Beck, getting back on the horse after she sustained two of the worst injuries of her life in the last two months...
To reach Hainan Island, China's nascent surf capital, you invariably need to change planes in Guangzhou, one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Former pro surfer Jarrad Howse, visiting Hainan last year as a representative of his sponsor O’Neill, was not accustomed to such non-idyllic detours. “Guangzhou is the most horrible place I’ve ever landed in,” he says. “I couldn’t believe I was on my way to a festival about surfing.”
After seven hours of wheezing Guangzhou’s toxic air, Howse jumped on another plane and flew on to Hainan, landing at night. The view from his room at the new beachside Sheraton the next morning revealed something far more familiar – white sand, blue water, clean air, palm trees and the crucial ingredient: waves.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It was a little bit of paradise. It was like I’d been transported to a Hawaiian island.
I had no idea China had those sorts of places. I always thought the water would be too polluted to surf in.” Guangzhou hasn’t been the only barrier to surfers developing an interest in China. The cultural divide has been just as insurmountable. Surfers have known there are waves in Hainan ever since pioneering Queensland professional Peter Drouyn returned from a Chinese government-sponsored tour of the island in 1986 and told Tracks magazine: “There’s waves in China, all right. Good waves, too. Of the four provinces I went to, there were definite waves in at least three of them.”
But surfers, being the vain doyens of pop counterculture, prefer to visit places where their status as global fashionable outcasts has at least a little street cred, and that was never going to happen in communist, conformist China. Until now, that is.
Former pro surfer Holly Beck owns a business conducting surf tours to Hainan and was invited by the government to advise them on ways to encourage tourism to the region. She says she and her boyfriend are constantly asked to pose for photos with college-age kids wherever they go in China, even on the mainland. “They like our blond hair, I think,” she says. “That sort of excitement and curiosity for Western culture opens the door for interest in surfing culture as well.”
The government, through its hilariously titled Minister for Extreme Sports, is working hard to encourage tourism to its established surf coast, Hainan (there is also surf in Taiwan and some off the nearby mainland coastline but so far these areas have been largely ignored). It held a festival of surfing last year, which was attended by hundreds of officials as well as people from across the surf industry who were invited to meet and greet.
Howse says the event differed from the typical surf-industry get-together. “We went to dinner every night and would be placed next to the highest officials,” he says. “Every person at the table would come up to us and tell us, through interpreters, that they were honoured to have us there and that they hoped we would come back soon.” But beneath the formalities were competing agendas. “It was really political. Everyone had their own motives. It’s one of those places where money talks and the rest walks.”
Steve Robertson of Surfing Australia, which helps administer the world surfing tour in Australia and South-East Asia, attended the event and sealed a deal to run China’s first professional surfing event, a women’s longboarding contest that will be held in October this year. It will be the final event of the season for that category, so the world champion will be crowned in Hainan. As a return gesture, a delegation of Chinese officials was invited to attend the Quiksilver Pro and annual pro tour banquet on the Gold Coast in February.
Robertson says the Chinese government has another, more challenging long-term objective, apart from developing a surf tourism industry: to encourage young Chinese kids to take up the sport. “We are in discussion with them about how to set up surf education in their schools,” Robertson says. “[The officials] were sending a message to us that young Chinese are going to have more leisure time in the future and will have opportunities to take on a lifestyle sport. The government has a goal to embrace the sport. They spoke of how other sports in China, like yachting, had also been embraced in the past decade.”
It’s not every day that surfing, a nebulous pursuit that is variously described as a creative sport and a drop-out lifestyle, is compared to yachting, in which rich men race expensive boats towards a finishing line. But Greg Healy, CEO of Quiksilver Australia, sees the connection. Like their rich elders, Chinese teenagers also have aspirations, but in their case it is to be as cool as their counterparts in, say, southern California. “One of the things that
this job exposes you to is that young people are the same all over the world,” he says. “The Chinese get it [youth culture], for sure. They love their fashion, they love their music and they love being able to express themselves in their individual characters.”
Healy is not deluded that it will happen overnight, though. Quiksilver, which has about 50 stores throughout China, is in it for the long haul. “It’s a market that every brand in the world is trying to get. We’re no different but it’s a long and steady journey.” The company is doing it with as little compromise as possible, modifying its range by 10–15 per cent to appeal to the locals, Healy says. “It might have a different colour but we would like to think it’s as cool,” Healy says.
China’s conversion to surf culture might be inevitable but nobody is saying how soon that might happen. “There don’t seem to be any local surfers,” Robertson says. “I didn’t actually see any Chinese surfing. A lot of people were encouraged to come and watch the surfing demonstration but you’ve got to have the sport entrenched in the culture before the industry can thrive on it.”
Howse says the Chinese still have a bit to learn. “They cheered when someone did a chop-hop [a simple manoeuvre],” he says. “To them the most difficult manoeuvres looked the most boring. And they swim in their clothes – they wear jeans and shoes into the water. Surfing is a completely foreign sport to them.”
Beck agrees: “While surfing in Hainan I met a very small population of local surfers – four to six guys – who did seem to understand the sport. The rest of the Chinese seemed to have no clue as to what surfing is all about. Like other Asians, the Chinese associate being muscular and tanned with manual labour, so a majority of middle-class Chinese with the financial means and time to want to learn to surf first have to overcome their negative associations with the type of body and skin colour that the sport will give them.”
Today, Thursday 21st of April, the Fijian-filmed surf/dive film "The Drop Zone" will premiere at San Diego State University in Hardy Tower 140, doors open at 6.45pm. Entry is free, all are welcome, and, there will be popcorn and drinks FREE on a first come basis until we run out. For those that need directions, please see the map below - we will have volunteers to direct you from parking station 4 to HT 140.
A few of the stars of the film, Cheyne Magnusson and Alex Grey, will be there to make along with the film's director and Holly Beck, who can't make it tonight, sends appreciation to everyone in attendance.
There will also be a raffle to support the proposed SDSU Center for Surf Research and Fijian charities with the major prize being A TRIP FOR TWO TO FIJI!!!! Plus, there is a ton of other swag to raffle off...
Hope to see you there!
SDSU Campus Map
April's update isn't quite as cheery as usual. On Thursday of the first week of two back to back ladies surf and yoga retreats I was sliding down Central America's most active cinder cone volcano on a piece of wood at 76km/hr when i bounced, caught my heel, and did two flying rolls, coming to a stop at the bottom with a very messed up left foot and ankle. It was an opportunity to check out the medical care in Nicaragua (clean but not very thorough). They told me my ankle wasn't broken, so I wrapped it up and hopped on one leg through the second retreat - still paddling out (but not standing up), horseback riding, and cheering for the ladies. Now that the ankle swelling has gone down, I'm pretty sure the ankle is not the only problem and I probably have at least one broken bone in my foot. : (
I had a GoPro camera mounted to the nose of my volcano board and actually captured the whole wipeout on film. See attached frame grabs and this link for the video:
I'm out of the water for a few weeks, but I did have some time to put together a few little videos to remember the times when I was able to surf.
Here's an ode to my favorite Rusty Surfboard, the Dwart:
Here's a video about my learn to surf philosophy:
More content coming soon (since unfortunately i'm gonna have too much time on my hands in the next few weeks)
Send healing vibes!
I am addicted to my Rusty 5’4 Dwart. I’ve been riding it in Nicaragua and wanted to bring it on a trip to Ecuador, but didn’t want to have to pay the airlines way too much money to bring it back and forth. I stopped by the Rusty factory and picked up a 5’6 Stump. It’s nice and thin, with a wide tail, stumpy nose, and thruster setup. Of course I wanted to take it for a quick test drive before packing my board bag for Ecuador and luckily there were a few waves breaking at my local spot in Redondo Beach. The Stump felt really good! See below for the evidence! Thanks Rusty!
Check out Holly's test run to Hainan a few weeks ago before she came back to help organize the international competition...
Riyu Bay, located on the island of Hainan, China, hosted the third annual Surfing Hainan Open and this year's event was the largest thus far.
The Open competition was the brainchild of Sanya resident and founder of Surfing Hainan, Brendan Sheridan, who’s spent the last four years on the Chinese resort island.
The Californian runs China’s first surf shop and school -- Surfing Hainan -- and is excited by the increasing profile of the event which began as “a renegade competition on the beach with no approvals from anyone” in 2008.
The Surfing Hainan Open 2010 has come a long way from its ragtag roots. This year’s event was observed by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), the sport’s global governing body, which has expressed interest in deeper participation in future events.
In addition to the amateur enthusiasts who represent 14 nationalities, this year’s Surfing Hainan Open drew sponsorship from O’Neill and high-profile pros such as Aussies Mark Mathews (shortboard champ) and Rob Bain (longboard champ), as well as top female surfer and Rusty Surfboards team rider Holly Beck (United States) and the legendary Robert “Wingnut” Weaver (United States), star of Bruce Brown’s classic surf travel film "Endless Summer II" (1994).
Click here for the full story.
Check out Holly Beck surfing in Central America on a recent trip with Cheyne Magnussen, Erica Hosseini, and Maria Del Mar Gonzales...