Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Doing the International Boogie in Sri Lanka
After living in Afghanistan for the past year and a half, you would think that one would get sick of being in a conflict zone. However, after scoping out the surf forecast for the east coast of Sri Lanka this season and looking at where the front lines of the fighting in Sri Lanka were at the time, I decided that it was worth the risk to make a go at the trip across the country from Colombo to the far east coast surf mecca of Arugam Bay. Taking my R&R from Afghanistan, Lelania (my wife) and I flew into Colombo and hooked up with a rental van and launched into a 10 hour drive across Sri Lanka, getting into Arugam Bay just in time for an afternoon surf session.
Arugam Bay is a small coastal village on the far east coast of Sri Lanka that has served as a major international surf destination for board surfers for years. A-Bay was hit hard by the Tsunami, with over 500 people lost from the series of waves that hit the village, and it has taken a lot of dedication by the local community to get the place back up and running. Board surfers have been trickling back into the area and their tourist dollars have helped the locals rebuild what was lost and get themselves back on their feet. Prior to the tsunami, A-Bay had been surf kayaked by at least one other party and since the Tsunami A-Bay has been hit up by a fellow from England that did a write up for Playboater Magazine last year who raved about the surf and how cool the people were. I was the second surf kayaker to hit the beach post-Tsunami and I can confirm all that he said, as the locals were great, the surf fantastic and the food and beer rocked (the local Thai restaurant serves fresh locally microbrewed German ales on tap!!!).
The main break is a right point break that just breaks forever over in some places, shallow coral reef. Outside the village, there are several great breaks that are easily accessible with a little walk in after a tuk tuk ride.
The surf was great the whole week we were in SL, with the average break being around chest to head high but with bigger sets rolling in in the morning and afternoon when the wind would change to a slight offshore breeze, producing nice barrels and clean, crisp sets that were just perfect.
I was born and raised board surfing and that was what actually got me into kayaking back in the day, so I was no stranger to surf kayaking prior to this trip. However, in the past I have always surf boated in a playboat since I had no real surf kayak to use. This was my first time trying out the Riot Boogie surf boat and it proved to be a great ride. The boat was super fast when charging down the lineup, the finbox set up kept me right on track and where I wanted to be with no side skipping down the face, and it was a generally comfortable boat that was a joy to throw down in. If you haven't tried the Boogie out, give it a go at your home break, you will be stoked.
Although things have gotten a bit hotter there in the past few weeks since i have been back, Arugam Bay is still not in the crossfire yet and it is still the surf season for the east coast, so if you fancy a bit of combat surf, great seafood, tasty brew, and the chance to meet some awesome local surfers, take a trip south and check out A-Bay, you wont be sorry!
Posted by Willvdb at 3:00 AM