At Mamallapuram’s first edition of Mahabs Open local surfers conquer the waves

As fishing stalled during lockdown, local surfers in Mamallapuram hit the waves, practising incessantly. At the recent Mahabs Open, they displayed impressive technique

When the nation announced a lockdown in March of 2020, Mamallapuram, a UNESCO heritage site, bustling fishing village and popular surfing destination, went into isolated island mode.

All entry points were barred. There was no fishing. For the next eight months, the local surfers of Mamallapuram , all from fishing families, rode the waves to stay calm. As a result, their skills and balance kept improving. Now, after long, focussed hours in the water, they have emerged as some of the best surfers in the country.

At the recently concluded Nationals held in Kovalam, conducted by Surf Turf and TTK group, there was a visible change in the format of the sport. The entry of surfing into Tokyo Olympics has given the sport a much needed boost in India. There are more practice sessions, and surfers are now focussing on physical fitness and nutrition, earnestly looking at participating in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Powered by Flipflops beach shack owned by Prashanth Amir and K Shabarinath Nair, the ‘Mahabs Open’ was held on September 14, 2021. With 85 registered participants from Covelong, Puducherry, Mamallapuram, Mangalore and Goa, it was a long day of surfing by the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram aka Mahabs. Here, four categories were drawn out: Mens under 16, Mens above 17, the Women’s open and Long board championships.

Competitors at the first edition of Mahabs Open. 

At the end of a long day, Mamallapuram saw one of its very own boys, Harish M from the fishing village, lift the championship and prize money of ₹20,000. The second place went to Yuvaraj Babu, again a local, while Ajeesh Ali from Covelong took the third place.

Suhasini Damien from Puduchery won the ladies championship with Shristi Selvam from Covelongwinning the second place and Sinchana Gowda from Mangalore winning the third place. The under 16 category was won by Srikanth from Covelong, second place and third place went to Naveen Kumar and Kalapathi respectively from Mamallapuram. In the longboard category, the first place went to Vicky from Auroville, Moorthy Meghavan and Santhosh from Covelong.

“Being a DJ, having performed at a few mainstream and offbeat events, I thought it would be great to combine my experience with the amazing talent here and this beautiful surf spot, to bring about a competition to encourage the local boys,” says Prashanth, adding that the competition is “a great platform to connect with the local authorities and communicate the benefits of Mamallapuram becoming the surfing Mecca of the country.” He adds with a beam, “It gave me so much pride to see the families of the local boys watching their children surf and be celebrated for their achievements.”

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