By COLIN TAIMBARI
ITS two months since the PNG Kumul World Surf League world long board championships in Madang’s picturesque Uligan Bay down Bogia way, but those i n the surfing world still haven’t stopped talking about Tupira and Papua New Guinea.
Tw itter, Facebook and other social media platforms are still in overdrive mode about how beautiful Tupira and PNG a re with re-posts of images and positive comments. The big social media bu z z is why they a ll can not wait to return for the next world championship in Vanimo in March next year.
Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea founder and president Andrew Abel say s Tupira and PNG a re “a definite game changer” for the WSL and more so the long board event. This is because the long board event has always played second fiddle to the much-fancied shortboard event with stars such as ‘King’ Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and John John Florence strut ting their stuff on the big waves wit h females champs like Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright among others doing the same.
This disparity is not only in the popularity stakes but the WSL forks out more than US$500,000 i n cash prizes per year for the shortboard world circuit
while for the longboard, it ’s a meagre US$150,0 00 in total annual prizemoney.
However, Andy Abel believes that with the growing popularity of Tupira and the world-class waves at the PNG Kumul World Longboard Championships, everyone is now sitting up and taking notice. The popularity of the longboard event could now be elevated to a new high. And one of many major factors when the e vent was streamed live to more than 1.2 million people ever y day around the globe was the sheer number of spectators t hat turned up each day at Tupira.
“We easily had a thousand people there every day including school children in uniforms cheering and the surfers and t he people watching from a round the world were simply amazed,” said Abel.
“Tupira was nothing like they had experienced before. We were in Hainan, China, before coming to Tupira and there w as no one except for one or two people just wandering around on the beach, so Tupira was definitely an eye opener for the international surfer s and they really enjoyed it.”
Women’s eventual winner Chloe Calmon, from Brazil, agreed: “It w as incredible to see so many people cheering for me with my friends all there to support me through that final.” Abel said the surfers not only enjoyed the surf but also the local culture and the fantastic environment i n general as they went diving, snorkel ling and fishing in between the championships, catching some awesome fish i n the
process. The high light for ma the free aeria l helicopter tours provided by Helifix – that just got them in such ecstasy – as many of them had never flown in a helicopter before. The five star meals served by Peter Long and his crew from IPI Catering and the endless supply of SP green can from the Tupira clubhouse bar were simply the icing on the cake for a marvellous, one-of-akind experience.
Put simply, Tupira was the perfect mirror for a wonderful surf cultural experience in PNG when it successfully delivered our first ever international surfing event at little known Ulingan
Bay from March 18 – 2 5.
The world’s best longboard surfers numbering 54 which included 36 men and 18 women on the elite League (WSL).
By COLIN TAIMBARI