• Published:January 5, 2012
  • Views:1,782

Ever since Bruce Brown's 1966 cult classic, The Endless Summer, surfers have been scavenging the globe in search of perfect waves and uncrowded lineups.

Over 40 years later, one would think that the world's surfing community would have the globe pretty well mapped out.
That assumption would be largely incorrect. We're still exploring. We're still discovering. And somehow, over the course of all those years, we managed to miss much of the 9,000-plus miles of coastline in China.
One small piece of that coastline will be unveiled beginning January 7th, when surfers competing for their country and individual careers descend on an island off the southeast corner of China for the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival Presented by Quiksilver. The event is two-part, consisting of the ISA China Cup, which will include the top eight qualifying countries (with 4 men and 2 women per team), followed immediately by the Hainan Classic, an ASP 4-Star with a $95,000 purse.

Chinese media, the public and everyone viewing on the live webcast will have the opportunity to witness first-hand the abilities of World Tour veterans Chris "Wardo" Ward and Cory Lopez of Team USA, former world champ Sofia Mulanovich and wunderkind Cristobal De Col for Team Peru, and other top young talents, including Dion Atkinson for Team Australia and Dale Stapes of Team South Africa, and the reigning ISA gold medalist, Santiago Muniz (younger brother to Alejo) of Team Argentina. Many of the competitors will be competing in both the ISA and the ASP events.

"There will be two different formats that together represent the pinnacle of surfing," said Fernando Aguerre, the president of the International Surfing Association. "It's the equivalent of having both the Davis Cup and a pro tennis tournament in the same city, in the same week."
"We believe that by hosting this event, we will be helping fast-track surfing's growth in China -- in a sustainable way."
--Fernando Aguerre
Aguerre is well-traveled and well-versed in the ways of surf culture. He knew there was a young surfing culture in China and that with some attention and some sort of spark that the surf culture in a country of 1.4 billion people had the opportunity to blossom.

At the SportAccord Convention - which pertains to "the service of sport, focused on driving positive change internationally" - in Dubai in May 2010, Aguerre sat down to lunch with a committee representing China and shared his ideas. From that meeting, the concept of a surfing festival somewhere along China's coastline began to grow.

"The sport is really young in China," Aguerre said. "We know there are local surfers as well as some expat surfers. There are some surf shops, but we believe that by hosting this event, we will be helping fast-track surfing's growth in China -- in a sustainable way."

The next step in making the event a reality was figuring out where and when would be ideal to host the happening. For that crucial job, Aguerre and the ISA and its partners in China, Womei Media, enlisted the expertise of the "father of swell forecasting," the late Sean Collins. Collins went to work researching the swell history along the coastline using his equation of swell readings, coastal bathymetry maps and all the other wealth of knowledge he had that made him the top surf forecaster in the world. He traveled to China for 10 days in April 2011, spending the majority of his time visiting and assessing the wave breaks on Hainan Island, located on the southeast corner of the country, across the South China Sea from Vietnam and the Philippines.

Based on Collins' report, the wave at Riyue Bay, a lefthand pointbreak was selected and the contest window set. Aside from its "orientation to swell exposure," as Collins mentioned in his report, the spot also had a unique wind phenomenon due to the nearby low-lying mountains, which caused the winds to blow offshore often.

Aside from identifying an appropriate wave and site for the future contest, Collins was also enlisted to provide suggestions for an area where he believed a true surf culture, via a "surf city," could evolve and thrive - a concept which falls in line with the ISA's purpose.

"I came to the ISA to develop surfing around the world, while working for a better surfing future," Aguerre said. "We want to see the sport growing all over the world - and it's happening."

The festival will open with the traditional Parade of the Nations and the Sands of the World ceremonies. On the second morning of competition, competitors, coaches and members of the ISA will take part in a memorial paddle-out for Collins, who passed away two weeks prior to the event.

"I'm amped to have the best surfers of the world traveling to a far-away country, with a very different culture," Aguerre said. "We're going to learn from them and they're going to learn from us, an essential way to build a better world."


Surfline's official forecast: ISA Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival
Updated: Thursday, January 5th (local time)
--Kevin Wallis

BRIEF OVERVIEW: A consistent run of east-northeast swell will prevail for the first few days of the event. This will offer very contestable, and occasionally fun to medium size, surf for the weekend of the 7th-8th and into the following week. The longer range outlook also looks promising with continued swell from the east-northeast direction.

**NOTE: Surf size will be focused at the more exposed breaks like Shell Beach and New Harbor breaks that Sean described in his report. Lesser exposed breaks may be 30-50% of the size listed below. **

SWELL/SURF: E/ENE swell with 3-4'+ faces.
WIND: NE 10-15kts+.

SWELL/SURF: E/ENE swell up slightly with 3-4'+ faces and occasional larger 5' waves.
WIND/WEATHER: NE 10-15kts+.

SWELL/SURF: E/ENE swell continues with 3-4'+ faces and occasional larger waves.
WIND/WEATHER: NE 10-15kts+.

SWELL/SURF: E/ENE swell continues with 3-4'+ faces and occasional larger waves.
WIND/WEATHER: NE 10-15kts+.

SWELL/SURF: E/ENE swell building with 4-6' faces and occasional larger waves.

Strong high pressure over Northern China will set up a long run of East-northeasterly swell for the Riyue Bay area this weekend and into early next week. Long range charts indicate the high will remain in place for much of next week, with continued east-northeasterly wind of 20-25 knots+ in the South China Sea and very contestable waves for the much of the event.

At this point we're expecting fun size east-northeast swell in the Riyue Bay area through the weekend, with a slight building trend as we move through said weekend. Similar size surf continues early next week.

Going into the long range, forecast charts/models indicate building and larger ENE swell for Wednesday and Thursday the 11th-12th. Stay tuned, we'll have more details on that in our next update.

Wind will be out of the northeast direction (side/offshore or offshore for most breaks in the Riyuearea) for the first several days of the event in the 15kt range.

Next Update: Saturday, January 10th (local time)

Stay tuned to the Forecast Blog.


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