Jonty Rhodes finds surfing

Jonty Rhodes inaugurated the country’s first National Surfing and Stand up Paddle competition © Getty Images

Thiruvanathapuram: May 3, 2013

South African cricketing icon Jonty Rhodes says surfing has something that gentleman’s game does not have — the “cool” factor.

The world’s best fielder was in the famed tourist location at Kovalam to inaugurate the country’s first National Surfing and Stand up Paddle (SUP) competition that got underway on Friday.

Interacting with the media, Rhodes said everything about surfing is cool, from the outfits to the style.

“This is a chance for India to get its youngsters interested in a sport that is thrilling and is fun, and keeps you healthy and fit,” said the 43-year-old Rhodes, who is currently the fielding coach of the Mumbai Indians IPL team.

He also pointed out that he finds surfing a welcome break from the stress of cricket.

“Cricket today is more of a career, it’s serious business and hard work, but surfing as a sport has yet to reach those levels of competitiveness so it lets you chill and loosen up,” said Rhodes, the avid surfer that he is.

The competition has been organized by the Surfing Federation of India (SFI), the governing body for the sport in the country, with the support of Kerala’s Department of Tourism.

The three-day event has surfing competitions and SUP races in the under 16, under 21, under 28 and over 29 categories.

International surfers take part in the open category and there are separate competitions for girls.

More than 100 participants from state surfing associations, clubs, surf schools and enthusiasts from around the country and abroad are taking part in the event.

Kishore Kumar, president of the Mangalore-based SFI, said they hope to make the competition much bigger next year with more participants from all over the country.

“Despite having an extensive coastline, excellent beaches and young talent, surfing is yet to catch on as an adventure sport in India, as it has done in surfing powerhouses such as Australia, South Africa, the US and Brazil,” Kishore Kumar added.