Taylor Pai goes vertical at China’s Riyue Bay. Photo: Sean Collins
1. Can you please tell us a little bit about the decision to host such a high profile event in China? Why the focus on China?
Everything happened after meeting with some Chinese sports leaders. It was May 2010 at SportAccord, a gathering of top Olympic Movement executives. I had lunch with the leaders of a Chinese organization dedicated to the promotion and development of sports in their country. The group, Womei Media, is a great partner to help develop surfing in the world’s most populated country.
Millenary China hopes to surf and are committed to put the funds to do it properly. Developing surfing around the world is the main job of the ISA. In this case, we will be reaching 1.3 billion people, people that doesn’t know what surfing is, now will know and some will probably start surfing.
2. We’ve noticed that there has been a tremendous growth in the smaller surf nations such as Peru in the ISA. Do you have any recommendations which South Africa could adopt from these countries approach? What are we lacking?
I think South Africa is one of the powerhouses nations in surfing and I don’t see defects in what the country does for the sport. I always see strong South African teams in the ISA events. And because of this, South Africa has a spot in the ISA China Cup, that gathers the top 8 nations in the world.
Nations like Peru, Venezuela and Argentina have improved a lot to get to the level where South Africa is, where South Africa has been for at least the last ten years.
3. There are a number of countries without coastlines now a part of ISA. How many countries is that now? And is it a growing trend?
Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland don’t have a coastline but have a lot of surfers. It is a growing trend because surfing is growing globally and locals try to surf on rivers, pools or travel as much as they can. With technologies improving, we’re going to see more and more of this. Wave-parks might eventually become more common than they are now, and with better wave quality as well.
4. Could Africa see an ISA event in years to come? If so, where? Not counting South Africa.
The ISA wants to come back to Africa, and especially to develop the sport in less developed countries. We don’t have a firm host-prospect but we’re really looking forward to it.
5. Anything else interesting you could share about ISA or the China festival?
The Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival will be a history making event. First big surfing event in China, first time the world’s best surfers travel to the millenary country, first time the ISA organizes an ASP event, first time the top 8 nations compete against each other for a trophy on an invitee-only event… We’re going to see a before and after in the history of surfing with this event.
Thanks a lot for your and good luck with the event