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Sabah can produce ace surfers
Published on: Wednesday, December 27, 2017
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Sherell Jeffrey
KOTA KINABALU: Rip Curl Malaysia and Singapore Senior Marketing Executive Muhammed Faisal Daud said because Malaysia is not known for surfing despite being surrounded by sea, he was sceptical there is a better place for the sport than Cherating in Terengganu.

"When I heard about the Borneo Surf Festival back in 2013, I was surprised that we can actually surf in Sabah.

"I thought surfing is only in Cherating or Terengganu, but after coming here the scene was fantastic. It is basically from beginner up to the intermediate and professional level," said Muhammed who was here for the Music and Surf 2017 Festival at Kalampunian Beach, recently. Rip curl is an established sportwear dealer.

The three-day event, attracted 60 surfers (41 men, four women and 15 groms – surfers below 16) who came from across the country, Indonesia and Finland.

"When I heard about Kudat, we brought all the surfers here and everyone loved it. For us, we always want to support the local surfing scene and build up the athletes for surfers in Malaysia, to let everyone come and enjoy and learn how to surf," he said.

He explained that the other reason they were here was for their wildcard selection to one grom who will be sent to Bali to compete at international level.

"The Music and Surf Festival here opens up a venue for our surfers here locally to understand that you can make surfing a career and not just a hobby, give them opportunity to break through the sport, go to a bigger stage and international level," he said.

This is also the first time a surfing brand in Malaysia are doing this, i.e. giving the opportunity to local surfers.

"If they win in Bali, they will be brought to the final competition which could be in Hawaii, but basically for groms, when you compete in Bali, people will know you, it would also be easier for you to travel, get sponsors and make a living out of surfing," he said.

Sabah Surfing Association President Ivan Nicholas Dominero said if people just explore, they can find a lot of places in Sabah to surf, Kudat is, of course, the best place and there are also some surfing spots in Kota Belud, Tuaran, Karambunai and even Tanjung Aru.

He said the good thing about Sabah is we have two seasons the Southwest Monsoon normally where Tanjung Aru and Tuaran have good waves, from June to September.

Then we have the Northeast Monsoon where there are good waves in Kudat and Kota Belud normally towards year end.

The Sabah Surf Association under the Ministry of Youth and Sports is working to promote the sport.

"We want to groom our local surfers into athletes, more on the sport level because in the coming Olympics there will be a surfing event," he said, adding that the biggest challenge about arranging surf events is the weather and the waves.

The peak season would normally be in December and January where the waves are two or three feet high.

He said he and a small group of friends started surfing more than 15 years ago.

"We had some members started putting photos up on social media, more people joined and our group grew bigger and we formed our association three years ago.

"First, we started surfing with members and family, probably only 20 people. Last year we held a surfing event with 31 surfers, today we are running our first official surf competition together with Sri Pelancongan Sabah," he said.

He encouraged Sabah surfers to travel to other places and compete in their events to gain experience.

A newcomer to the sport is bound to keep falling into the sea each time he or she gets on the surf board.

It can be challenging, but one that would mean new career opportunities for those who succeed.



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