Xue Yang photo by ISA Ben Reed

Surfing Is About To Boom In China, Meet The Pioneers.


Surfing in China is a new idea and a new sport. It could be because it is now an Olympic sport, or simply because surf tourism is hot. Of course, right now you wouldn’t think about booking a surf trip to China, because there is so little known to us right now, and surf culture barely exists there. But, as surfers, we are continually looking for the next unknown, new waves, new cultures and new experiences. In a decade from now could China be the next Indo?

Friend of The Mermaid Society Milton Brown has been travelling to China to assist with the development of the regional events. Like Australia’s first professional surf world tour legend Peter Townend, Milton has been engaged by the people of China to accelerate the sport among their people. (Peter has been appointed the Chinese surf team’s Olympic coach.)

On his latest trip he went to attend the Hong Hai Bay Surf Contest hosted by the Shenzhen Surfing Association. This was the third year the event has been run and it is proudly supported by the HongHaiWan Tourism Bureau, the HongHaiWan Sports Bureau and the HongHaiWan Oceanic Administration Bureau. 

Surfing China

The event which ran from November 11th had over 70 competitors register from over 10 countries and regions. Held at the GuangDong Hong Hai Bay surf break 88, conditions weren’t ideal with heavy onshore winds and rain in two-to-three foot waves. But spirits were high, competitors even making a campfire at the contest site to keep warm, and the event directors mentioned in their report that skill levels had dramatically increased since the 2016 event.

The break peels off a jetty and has the ability to produce perfect a-frame waves and nice barrel rides. The break can hold up to eight-foot waves and performs best on a NE – SW swell with westerly or NE winds.

For the women in this year’s event, there were both longboard and shortboard divisions held.

Milton caught a couple of the women and talked to them about how surfing is evolving in China and what it means to them.

Lilly started surfing when she was 14 because a couple of friends taught her how to surf. She got into a surfboard manufacturing business for work. She combines surfing for her profession and hobby. She said that more and more friends are starting to surf and she will surf for the rest of her life crossing many disciplines.

Xue Yang (pictured at top of article) is the highest ranked and best performing female surfer in China at present and recently represented China at the ISA World Games in France. She has been surfing for five years. She says she surfs because it makes everything else seem not important and makes her feel free. She loves free surfing and the travel that comes with it. She’s been to Bali, Australia and France. She doesn’t want to be a world champion, just to surf and be happy. Xue Yang was also the winner of this event.

Surfing China

Joanna has been surfing for one year and started because her boyfriend is a good surfer and he started to teach her. She can’t get enough of it and loves to compete.

Karina has been surfing for six years after being a keen swimmer as a child. She wants to make surfing her career. The power of women’s surfing is so different from men’s. She loves that there are so many strengths and movements in the ocean and the waves. When she started the most unforgettable thing she’s seen as a surfer was during her first typhoon swell when she saw a 60-year-old man surfing a six-foot wave on a tiny board. He told her he started surfing at 40 and that inspired her to be able to surf for the rest of her life, she said she hopes to surf up until her 80’s or older.

The local village is said to be embracing the surf event’s presence and the annual appearance of local and international surfers is certainly adding a new dimension to local beach. Who knows what the future will hold for women’s surfing in China.

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