By HENRY MORABANG
MAYBE you surf,maybe you don’t.
It doesn’t matter but people who have been to the beach or live along the coastline are influenced by surf culture in one way or another.
Relatively unknown to the outside world, Tupira Surf Club is perched on the pristine bay of Ulingan, north of Madang in Bogia will host the PNG Kumul World Longboard Surfing championships. The event starts tomorrow and runs for a week.
Scheduled as the third major event on the calendar of the World Surfing League 2017, the world-class competition at the former Madang Timbers logging yard now-turned surfing club, will be watched by 120 million viewers around the globe courtesy of Australia’s Indigenous TV station, SBS and the World Surfing League TV.
The surfing championship will be live streamed by PNG Telikom VSAT technology and its support worth K107,000, providing an uplink in their first such set up for a world event in rural Papua New Guinea.
The 2017 World Longboard surfing venue is approximately 180km north of Madang Town and is approximately three hours of scenic drive along the beautiful north coast road.
Over 50 international surfers; male (36) and female (18) including those from USA, Brazil, Peru, France, Australia will be attending. Host country, PNG will also field surfers.
Defending female champion Tory Gilkerson of USA will be amongst 18 other women contesting for the women’s tile which include PNG’s very own Marianne Longa of Sunset Surfing club in Lido in Sandaun.
The majority of surfers that will attend took part in the last championships in Hainan Island in China where Gilkerson was crowned the queen of the waves.
SAPNG president Charles Abel thanked the government for supporting the event with the sponsorship of K1 million through PNG Kumul Holdings Limited plus other sponsors such as Telikom PNG, Helifix Helicopters
and many others.
Robert Agarobe, Helifix CEO, is proud to support the world class surfing event which showcases the sports tourism in a remote part of the country.
A helicopter from the company will be based at the surfing event throughout the week to provide for any emergency should the need arise.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said he is pleased that the global surfing community is learning about Papua New Guinea as a destination for surfing tourism.
“The country is looking forward to hosting the World Surf League Longboard Championship in Tupira this weekend,” the Prime Minister said.
“I am glad that people around the world are discovering that Papua New Guinea is a great surfing destination, with challenging waves in pristine waters on beautiful beaches.
“I hope all competitors and spectators have an enjoyable time at the first international surfing event ever held in Papua New Guinea.
“On behalf of the Government, I further congratulate the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea for their efforts in promoting surfing in the nation and bringing this competition to our country.
“The Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships will be an outstanding event and showcase outstanding male and female competitors, and invite surfers from around the world to visit Papua New Guinea.
“I urge members of the public to be in Tupira for the event, or to find out more through the media, so they can gain a better insight into the sport of surfing.
“Surfing is a very health activity for young and old, men and women, and we would like to see more people take up this sport.”
Turpira Surf Club was established in 2008 under the vision and guidance of Abel and the Patron of Tupira club Justice Nicholas Kirriwom.
Judge Kirriwom said any event of this magnitude like the Pacific Games and FIFA Under 20 Women World Cup elevate the profile and status of the country amongst the top or leading countries in the world. He added Papua New Guineans have passion for the sport and such event exposes the economic potential of the country as destination for tourism especially for surf tourists.
Patron said a lot of surfing tourist and professionals like challenge and looking for uncrowned surfs that only PNG with its unique surf management plan can and does provide which is the magic formula that taken almost 30 years to nurture through resilience of the president Abel.
The world surfing event is happening out in a remote rural part of Madang that is outside the jurisdiction of those who prefer events like this in towns or urban settings.
“So I don’t blame them for lack of interest and support, it’s a mind game I suppose” said Judge Kirriwom.
“I was born and bred a country boy but live and work in big cities and towns always maintaining link with my roots and have the passion to bring changes to the people in countryside,” he said
He added that Malala community and Bogia generally will be much richer in personal development with broader outlook and view of the world and see the huge potential in surfing.
“This sport can open up the door to fame for many kids to emulate and become surfers like these professionals.
“This event brings the inspiration needed to motivate young people to take the sport seriously and one day we are going to produce the country’s top surfers from rural Bogia district of Madang.
The surfing club along Bogia highway has rapidly transformed from an idea into a living breathing entity. It can proudly claim to be Madang’s first and only surf club in existence and now officially affiliated with SAPNG.
At Tupira, surfers will have access to up to five uncrowded breaks and Ulingan Bay is one of the most consistent swell magnets in Papua New Guinea
By HENRY MORABANG