2015 is here, the pro tours have kicked off and I couldn't be further from the beaten track and the well ridden waves.
I'll be spending mid-2015 checking out some of the world's most popular surf destinations including the Gold Coast of Oz and Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand, not to mention tearing it up in Fiji. But for the rest of the year I'll be checking out hidden gems and emerging hotspots in South East Asia, which brings us back to where I am: India!
I don't think the ASP will be visiting here any time soon and I doubt it's the first place that comes to mind when I mention surf hotspots, but the word 'surf' was born here and I had heard one or two whispers about an emerging surf scene so it seemed like a good place to start.
I mean look at the place, it's a huge lump of land sticking into thousands of miles of ocean. If you travel south from the southern tip of India you find nothing but ocean for over ten thousand miles. 'How could it not be great?' I thought. So I packed up, flew to Mumbai, then headed to Goa on India's east coast where there are great waves to be had according to a source who will remain anonymous.
Surfing in Arambol (Image Courtesy: Anton Hagen)
Beaches like Calangute and Arambol are said to be the places to head to for surfing, but there was little evidence of anything when I was there. The waves topped out at an acceptable three feet but there was nowhere to ride even these. The beaches were busy and dirty, with loud beach bars encroaching on the shoreline and littering the beaches with their rubbish. Everywhere not set aside for swimming had banana boats and jet skis whizzing up and down. Not the kind of place I like to surf. As for the water itself, it felt and tasted polluted, not surprising given the trash all around and the number of times I've seen sewage being pumped into the sea. I'd love to tell you more but unfortunately I got very ill very quickly during my stay in Goa.
I've done some research and I look forward to surfing the pure, unspoilt, unpolluted beaches of Sri Lanka in March, but while I'm in India I'm staying out of the water. India may have given surf and surfing their names hundreds of years ago, but it will take a lot of time and cleaning up before it gives surfers anything to write home about.
Writer: Jamie Smith