BHUBANESWAR: As many as 30 stand up paddle (SUP) boards would soon be provided to the different boatmen’s associations in the Chilika lagoon by the Government as flat water surfing is set to make its debut in the lake within a month. The Government is keen to promote SUP not only as a eco-tourism attraction but push the sport for better management of environment, Tourism and Culture Secretary Ashok Tripathy said on Tuesday as he set sail the first India Surf Festival, organised by the Surfing Yogis in association with Orissa tourism Department at Ramchandi here on Tuesday.
About 30 representatives from the boatmen’s associations under the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) will be trained on SUP during the festival for introducing it in their respective zones.
“The demand for non-invasive mechanisms among the tourists and visitors to eco-zones is rising rapidly due to increasing awareness among the people. We have to be ready with all facilities and are preparing a roadmap for providing varied avenues to the visitors,” CDA chief executive Ajit Patnaik said.
Orissa with its vast resources in terms of coastline, rivers, and lakes has immense potential for SUP sport. “We are striving to promote it not only as a recreational sport but also one that is immensely beneficial to health and fitness,” Surfing Yogis chief Sanjay Samantray said.
The three-day first of its kind surf festival of the country got off to a rollicking start on Tuesday with as many as 31 surfers from nine countries and 44 counterparts from six states of India taking part. The festival is a conglomeration of surfing, music, dance and art. As the surfers took to the swells off the Ramchandi coast on the Puri-Konark marine drive, the beach reverberated with rock bands performing in perfect symphony with traditional Odisha folk dances, installation of art and paintings.
The festival is also being used as a platform to bring surfers across the country under one umbrella and introduces standarisations, safety guidelines and unified training methodology. “More and more people are taking to surfing as a recreational as well as adventure sport activity. From about a handful scattered along the east and west coasts operating mostly individually, we are now having at least 50 odd expert surfers in the country and growing. Surfing schools are being established at different locations. Thus, there is a need to bind them under a standardised charter,” president of the fledgling Surfing Federation of India, Kishore Kumar said.
The festival is not only a celebration of the surfers fraternity but also strives to further exchanges and interactions for betterment of the sport in the country, said Dr Debabrata Das, secretary of the Orissa Surfers and Paddlers Association.