June 19th Darci in Dadonghai Beach...
About Sanya Surf
China's mainland surfing community may have missed out on this summer's typhoon season, but with Typhoon Hagupit looming off the North coast of the Philippians and headed South of Hong Kong, surfers in China are waxing up their boards and preparing for a few days of solid surfing.
As all surfers know, typhoon swells bring waves and waves bring surfers out from their hiding places among the rest of society to embrace the oncoming surf with a zest and fortitude that makes some think of them as a crazy lot. While others are boarding up their windows and bringing their laundry, surfers in China are pulling out their big wave boards and planning how to get to the often inaccessible surf spots.
While summer is often the prime season for surfing in Hong Kong and Hainan Island, this past season has not produced nearly as many surfable days as 2007's epic surf season. But with summer all but a fading memory, winter's East coast facing beaches are poised to take on the ensuing swell from Hagupit... and local surfers are ready.
"Yeah, this summer's been a bummer," claims local surfer Matt Hammond - operator of SanyaSurf.com: a website dedicated to surfing in Hainan, "usually we get a couple decent typhoons passing to the South of us during the summer, but this year they've all passed East of the Philippians."
They say you can plan a picnic but not predict the weather, well for surfers in China, this Tuesday through Friday should bring consistent surf with waves reaching heights of up to 3.5 meters in some locations. For those who know how to find the best spots, it could be a magical week and a great early kickoff to the winter season.
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Surfing in Hainan takes a bit of patience, dedication, and luck to score decent waves, and this past summer’s disappointing swells have equated to very little in the way of Hainan surf. But if the past week’s surf is any indication of what the next few months of surfing in Hainan will be like, local surfers from Sanya to Haikou will be in for a great winter surf season. With the passing of Typhoon Jangmi to the Northeast and approach of Tropical Storm Mekkhala currently hovering to the south of Hainan along with a small tropical depression, surfing Hainan for the next few months should put a collective smile on the surf community that has otherwise been starved for surf for nearly three months.
Summer’s swells on Hainan usually come from the South, as typhoons that brew to the East of the Philippians usually drift directly West towards Vietnam; exposing Sanya’s southern beaches to head-high surf. This year’s summer typhoon offering, however, passed without delivering any solid swells, and one typhoon after another hooked north towards Hong Kong without making the usual jump over the Philippians and leaving Sanya surf in at waist high on the biggest days.
As for winter in Sanya, surf tends to come from Northwest, and while this may require a short drive through backwater dirt roads and fishing villages, the fruits of these labors often produce substantial surf; much of which is only recently discovered. And while local surfers in Hainan may not be forthcoming as to the location of these sacred surf spots, a little intuition combined with a roadmap and a hired driver can put even the visiting surfer into excellent waves.
“I’ve been surfing here for a few years now,” quoted TJ- a local Sanya Surfer, “Each time I go out I’m not really sure what to expect, but we’ve narrowed down a few spots that consistently produce waves that would be considered good surf even in places like Australia and California.”
For new surfers in the Hainan area, surf conditions, maps, and advice on where to rent surfboards in Hainan are available at www.SanyaSurf.com. While the rest of the Hainan’s residents brace themselves for heavy winds and rain, for those who ride the surf, Hainan is just starting to wake up from a long summer’s lull.
2500 miles of coastal beaches and bays line Hainan Island’s tropical shores which attract tourists from around the world to it’s laid-back lifestyle and tropical atmosphere, with thousands of tourists flocking to the island to enjoy SCUBA diving, golf, boating; and more and more often – Surfing. Hainan boasts several other high-profile events such as the Boao Forum and the International Miss World Competition, as well as several other international athletic events including the Tour of Hainan and the FIVB Beach Volleyball tour among a long list of other events.
While Brendan Sheridan of Surfing Hainan has run the contest for the past two years as an independent event, this year he will be teaming up with O”Neill and the Chinese National Government for the first ever Wanning International Surf Festival to be held at Riyue Wan (roughly 100 miles up the East Coast of Hainan from Sanya City). With additional funding and exposure, Sheridan has beefed up the lineup card with several high-profile professional surfers, and an expanded field of both contestants and judges that will participate across four divisions including: shortboard, longboard, bodyboard, and stand up paddleboard.
Over a two day extended-weekend, sponsored professionals Holly Beck, Wingnut, Emilliano Cataldi, and Sam Bleakley will surf in the same waves as emerging local standouts such Da Hai, Darci Liu Hammond, and Tie Zhuang. Other international surfers who have been fostered into surfing in Hainan’s warm waters will also be contesting in the amateur division, and locals are expecting strong performances from Britain’s James Farquar, Julieta Hepner from Argentina, and Jose Espinoza from Venezuela.
With a steady swell approaching Hainan from the East, surfers and spectators alike are looking forward to waves in the 4-6 foot range and tailing off throughout the event. The Riyue Bay lineup features a long grinding left point-break that can peel for up to 200 meters when the conditions are good, and contest will be scored on a 0-10 rating system by a trio of judges, with the best average score across a surfer’s best two waves determining the outcome of each 4 or 6 man heat.
The event is surely to be a festive occasion with live music, DJs, games, prizes, and lots of food and drink. For the local Sanya surf community, this is also a rare opportunity to see some of world’s most talented surfers push themselves in local waves, and likewise for surfers who otherwise might not have Hainan listed in their immediate travel plans to help inspire the sport of surfing in Hainan and throughout China.
Hainan is blessed with endless miles of unexplored headlands, reefs, outer-islands, and beaches perfect for surf: depending on the conditions. Overbearing winds haunt the more Northern side of the Island, and fickle conditions make picking the right spot on any given day a bit of a crap-shoot. Still, given a little knowledge of your surroundings and bit of exploring, you're bound to eventually score some 'epic surf': dare I say it, even by international standards.
Anyway, we've spared the local surf contingency from exposing the most sensitive spots, but this will give you an idea of where to look for good spots given the time of year you're in Hainan. Access may be a bit difficult, but we promise you that the surfing in Hainan is comperable to any reasonable surf locale in the world given the right conditions and 'un poco de gracias'.
- Sanya Bay
- Dadonghai Bay
- Yalong Bay
- "One Man Left"
- Shimei Bay
- Riyue Bay
- Ho-Hai Beach
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Darci Liu, is one of the definitive beach beauties of Dadonghai, and can often be seen walking her slightly overweight weiner dog "Gouro" down the beach. Her flair for fashion and effortless grace and charm make her an unforgettable standout on the Sanya scene,l.
She's become quite a decent surfer in her own right as well, and can be seen conquering shoulder-high waves at Dadonghai, Shimei Bay, and HoHai beaches on her girly pink longboard.