The many fruits of surfing in Bangladesh

A sport and lifestyle: The many fruits of surfing in Bangladesh

22 July, 2022, 09:55 am

Last modified: 22 July, 2022, 12:59 pm

And there is also the factor of distance. For those living beyond Cox’s Bazar (and particularly those who cannot arrive at the beach on a whim), the sea beach remains a far-away destination. Distance is, perhaps, another reason as to why surfing is not quite catching on in Bangladesh.  

And lest we forget about the cost. It is an expensive sport (or hobby). NDSC has surfboards that range between a few thousand taka to lakhs in price. Even a second-hand epoxy surfboard can cost up to Tk45,000. Short boards (small surfboards) are priced at Tk65,000 and longboards above Tk1 lakh. Other accessories like anti-slip waxes, board fins and tethers can also cost thousands. 

Surfing lessons from a trained instructor costs Tk800 per hour. And it requires many hours of practice to hone the craft. 

The high entry cost into surfing deters most people. For those already in the surfing scene, the general lack of funding and support stalled their rate of progress. 

The scene has, however, altered a little compared to the earlier years, thanks to WFP, Jaago and other foundations that came forward to help. Now girls are seen riding the waves alongside boys, enabled by programmes like Surfer’s Megher School. 

For the love of the waves

So what drives these local surfers? “It’s all for the love of the waves. We are who we really are only when we are riding the waves; it feels like we are on top of the world,” said NDSC’s Sayed.

As it becomes more of a lifestyle than just a hobby. Surfers like Sayed, Nur and Sagor, who are building a life around surfing, are a testament to that lifestyle. 

Everyone who is a part of this close-knit community also feels a sense of belonging. Children who are part of Surfer’s Megher School are seen hanging out with the rest of the surfers day in and day out. 

Photo: Sayed Asif Mahmud/WFP

Photo: Sayed Asif Mahmud/WFP

Photo: Sayed Asif Mahmud/WFP

The waves are not always the same. “In calmer seasons, the sea is tranquil. For surfing, rough winds and high-peaking waves are the best,” said Sayed.

Although it is not possible to artificially generate waves big enough to ride in the ocean itself, wave simulators can be set up in swimming pools. Again, that too is extremely expensive. Many countries use similar facilities to keep surfers riding the waves all year round. 

Organisation and foundations can only assist so much. This community needs assistance from the government too. Like any other sport, surfing needs every bit of the recognition it can get from authorities to make big on a national scale and, eventually, the global scale. 

“Surfing is also an Olympic sport. I don’t understand why it is not given proper value,” lamented Nur.