China earns next-hot-spot mojo with Wanning Fest
Hainan, Southern China
Competitors from all over China as well as international pros descend on Hainan
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 16 November, 2010 : – – By Clean 2-4 feet pointbreak waves blessed the inaugural Wanning International Surfing Festival, held on the beautiful Hainan Island in China. U1st Sports, Zhou Ping (Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission), Unistone Cultural Communications and O’Neill put together a great event, welcoming athletes and media from over 20 countries, providing the best that China can offer: including thousands of fans cheering the surf stars in an international pro and amateur competition that included SUP, longboarding and shortboarding.
“What makes this area so special is the consistency of its waves,” said effervescent pro-surfer Holly Beck (USA), who scouted Wanning’s surf potential for one month with photographer John Callahan and the SurfExplore Team of Emilliano Cataldi (ITA), Erwan Simon (FRA) and Sam Bleakley (UK).
“In the last three weeks it never went below 3 foot,” added Holly, “with several days of solid overhead surf and offshore wind. We see a lot of great opportunity for the evolution of surf culture along this untapped coast.”
The Surfing Hainan Open, (organized by surfinghainan.com), drew competitors from all parts of China and world-famous pros such as Mark Matthews, Jarrad Howse and Rob Bain (O’Neill Team, AUS). Matthews who won the Shortboard Pro Division with a lethal combination of vertical re-entries, aerials and snappy floaters.
Late ‘80s ASP tour legend Rob Bain is still in killer form, and bagged second in the Shortboard Pro, then nailed a silky win in the Longboard Pro Division by waiting outback for a prime set, tucking into a hollow section and revealing a series of noserides and cutbacks to just beat Sam Bleakley. The legendary Robert “Wingnut” Weaver (USA), star of Bruce Brown’s classic film Endless Summer II (1994), won the SUP category with unrivalled style.
Californian Holly Beck put on a sparkling performance by reaching two separate finals in the male Shortboard and Longboard Pro Divisions. She was a model ambassador for surfing culture and performance throughout the event and inspired everyone her infectious enthusiasm and stoke.
The ladies were in fact the stand-outs, with another lightning fast Californian Kim Mayer getting a 5th in the Shortboard Pro, and Taiwan-based Roxy Rider Baybay Niu scoring the ‘Best Female Surfer’ after achieving second place in the Longboard Amateur (won by Hawaiian Daniel Lau) and 5th in the Shortboard Amateur.
Wingnut has travelled China extensively in recent years, and he calls the official opening-up of surfing in China “the biggest Christmas present in the world,” seeing further surfing potential along the mainland’s north-east exposed coastline. But even if the local surfers at most breaks can still be counted on the fingers of one hand, the future of surfing for the Middle Country looks bright on the tropical coast of Wanning.
Regional Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) tour manager Dane Jordan attended the festival with a view to running a high level ASP event here in 2011, and mixed business with pleasure to claim a superb 1st place in the Amateur Shortboard category. “Everyone here has enjoyed the hospitality of the Hainan people,” said Jordan.
“We have checked a variety of breaks and the consistency and quality has been very good. The beaches, left pointbreaks, accommodation and facilities are top class and we will definitely work with the government officials to run an ASP event here in 2011.”
On the day of semi-finals and finals several thousands people from all over Hainan swarmed around Riyue Bay’s choreographic left point to savour the birth of a new sport and lifestyle. Brendan Sheridan (owner of surfinghainan.com) has a surf shop and school in Sanya and has spent the last four years working in Hainan, and performed miracles to keep the huge multi-linguistic crowd entertained. He commented every heat both in Mandarin and in English, probably the first to do so in the history of competitive surfing!