STOKED ON SURFING
--By Pieter Vorster Translated
by Annie Liu
244, ChaShan Road, ManZhou Village, PingTung County
Hours: Everyday 6 am-10 pm
Having surfed near perfect 6 foot waves
at Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, I was convinced that
I would have to put my beloved sport on hold when I
came to Taiwan. But then, two days before a typhoon
was about to hit, I received a call from a friend: "Get
ready! It's going to be cooking tomorrow." Skeptically
I drove down to a reef past Jialeshuei - and had one
of the best sessions of my life!
Surfing was born an age ago, when Hawaiian
fishermen started riding the waves on large wooden planks
and found it to be just about the most fun you could
have with your Hula on. Over the years it grew into
the international, professional and incredibly athletic
sport that it is today. From 18-year olds traveling
across the globe in search of perfect waves, to 81-year
olds claiming sovereignty over their private breaks,
it remains the love of riding the waves that pulls us
into the water.
So why exactly is surfing so popular?
Simple: 1. Ocean gives life to mankind. 2. Mankind relies
on ocean for life. 3. Mankind sees in ocean most of
life's might, magic and mystery. 4. Mankind longs to
(with a necessary degree of awe and respect) discover
and tame ocean. 5. Man sees man attempt and achieve
this, and thinks: "That looks like the good life!"
Conclusion (albeit rather zealous) = Surfing is life!
Let's get back to reality - and surfing
south Taiwan. To start you'll need a surfboard. There
are many places that rent surfboards down in the Kenting
area, although these boards tend to be clumsy, foam
monstrosities that may frustrate you as much as amuse
you. In this writer's opinion, beginners (weighing between
55kg - 70kg) should look for a 6'4 (6 foot, 4 inches)
fibre-glass covered board with three fins and a sturdy
leash. Owning your own board is best, but ask Clair
(owner of Waves Kitchen and Bossa Nova - page 11), A-Lang
(Kenting Surf Shop - page 26) or Winson (Winson House,
Jialeshuei) about renting a board.
Taiwan's warm waters don't require
the use of wetsuits, but a rash vest (or T-shirt) will
help prevent serious chafing and acts as additional
protection against the sun. ALWAYS wear sunblock (especially
on your face), since the water reflects harmful UV rays
and you'll be crispy before you know it. Finally you
will need the most important thing of all - decent waves.
The underwater topography of the ocean floor defines
the waves that are formed when swells reach the shore,
and beginners should stick to open beach breaks that
are less intimidating and within the limits of their
experience and fitness. Try the right-hand corner of
NanWan beach or Jialeshuei.
Always be respectful of locals and more
experienced surfers. Try to watch and learn, rather
than compete with them for waves. A good place to meet
fellow surfers is Winson House, just up the road from
Jialeshuei beach. An avid surfer himself, Winson offers
board rentals at NT$800 per day (NT$500 for a half day),
decent accommodation at NT$400 per night (NT$300 on
weekdays) and surf lessons at NT$1800 for 3 hours (NT$1280/person
for 2 or more; max 10) from 9am to 12am and again from
2pm to sunset.
It is this writer's opinion that surfing
is 10% skill, 10% talent, 10% knowledge and 70% fitness
and experience, which you will only build by being out
in the water. Luckily it is the most fun, exciting and
satisfying way to get and stay fit. See you in the water.
www.cwb.gov.tw - Taiwan Central Weather Bureau
www.tealit.com/typhoon.php - typhoon reports
www.stormsurf.com/page2/charts/chartroom.shtml - surf
forecasts and reports
www.surfing-waves.com - tips on learning how to surf,
equipment and related stuff.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfing - an online encyclopedia
with a good surfing section