Xiaodan Zhang gets a surfing lesson in Bondi as part of a push to attract more Chinese tourists. Photo: Brook Mitchell


CHINESE MIDDLE-CLASS GO SURF IN OZ
Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Xiaoling Yang has never heard of Gidget but one session at Bondi turned her into a real gone surfer woman.  "I stood up three times," said the delighted 29-year-old computer product manager from land-locked Sichuan Province after her first surf lesson.

She had never seen the sea until she came to Australia and admitted to being slightly terrified until the first ride. "I was scared at first but the waves just carried my heart.

One of the increasing number of Chinese taking to the waters of Bondi, Manly, Maroubra and Byron Bay, the emerging new wave of middle-class tourists has enthusiastically embraced the idiom "when in Rome, do as the Australians do".

Bondi-based surf school Let's Go Surfing's Brenda Miley, said Chinese were now the largest contingent of Asian tourists taking the $99 two-hour lessons.

"Once it used to be the Japanese and Koreans but now the Chinese are right up there," she said. "The want to experience a 'real Australian experience'. What could be better than cracking a wave?"

Ms Miley's company has been taking part in trade fairs on the mainland recently but Australian surfing's holy grail of cracking the great wave of China has had plenty of flat spots over the years.

The first attempt was Gold Coast surfer PeterDrouyn. He established a surf academy on Hainan Island in 1986 after a peripatetic career that included competing in Australia and Hawaii, starring in surf movies, and introducing innovative man-on-man heats at the first Stubbies Pro in 1977.

He stayed a month, trained some grommets and pulled out. Visiting Americans later found kids riding the shorebreak on Drouyn's boards but the bamboo curtain remained closed to surfing.

Over the years a couple of professional surf contests were staged without lasting consequence, Australian surf companies like Rip Curl, Billabong and Quiksilver arrived chasing cheap labour and the surfing world discovered China really did have waves when astounding footage surfaced on YouTube of US and European surfers riding the Qiantang tidal bore past the city of Hangzhou skyscrapers.

Still, China's 1.3 billion resisted the surf's siren call. Part of it is cultural, part of it is geographical.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

SOURCE: THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
AUTHOR: DAMIEN MURPHY





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