Fri, Nov 15, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Big waves, bigger stakes

By Sam Sky Wild  /  Contributing reporter

Casey Furtado surfs at Dong He surfing spot in Taitung County.

Photo courtesy of Matt Andrews

With one eye on the unfolding destruction in the Philippines wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, surfers gathering in southeastern Taiwan will nevertheless be praying for a storm-based weather front to serve up powerful swells during Taitung County’s major surf competition.

Located in Jinzun fishing port, the sixth annual Taitung Open of Surfing (臺灣國際衝浪公開賽) is claiming a major first: an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 1-Star competition.

Referred to as the “Surfing Olympics,” ASP 1-Star events attract wave-riding professionals from across the world. Surfers from the US, South Africa, Australia and Greece are set to descend on the isolated Taiwanese region. Among the pros, Indonesia’s Raditya Rondi will be defending his Taitung Open of Surfing title. This year 150 local surfers, led by Kuo Heng-Liang (郭恆良), will also vie for elusive recognition.

“A lot more surfers are going to know that Taiwan is a great surfing destination,” Kuo says.

“To compete with and learn from international pro surfers is exciting,” he adds.

For titleholder Rondi, the chance to go back to Taitung is a real draw. “I love that wave,” says Rondi. “It gives you a left and a right to choose from. Last year was the first time I went to Taiwan, so to win that contest first time out was a great experience for me. The place, the people and even the weather, I liked it — so I’m stoked we get to go back.”

The event features an Open and a Women’s Division, as well as a Longboard and Grom Division competition. With Taitung County Tourism Department’s extensive marketing campaign, there are set to be large numbers of visitors flocking to the remote fishing port.

The event runs until Sunday, with music, food and Aboriginal cultural events set to unfold tomorrow evening.

For Chinese and English-language details, including extensive transportation information, results, videos and a list of collateral activities, please visit: www.taiwanopenofsurfing.com.

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