When foreigners were seen surfing in Kovlam and Mahabalipuram, it piqued the interest of the locals and other water sports enthusiasts in the city. Showkath was one of them, who acknowledged that the people of India have not been appreciating the beautiful things we can do with our beaches, and realized the need for a professional institution that will formally teach ocean sports an eradicate the unreasonable fear of the sea. Just knowing how to surf is not enough to become an instructor, hence they flew down a professional surf coach from California who stayed in Chennai and trained the locals and other city based surfers to become instructors, consultants were invited to advice on matters of safety, weather and ocean behavior. It marked the birth of Chennai’s first accredited surf school in 2011. And thus began the saga of surfing in India; not in an exotic beach destination, but in a small fishing village and not by professionals but by simple fishing folk.
To further make Kovallam more convenient for surfing, two massive shoreline structures were built from rocks to facilitate the formation of a long concave arch on the beach called a ‘cove’. The seemingly insignificant fishing village Kovallam then assumed a new identity of “Covelong” and became the heart of Surfing in India. Since then, the art of surfing and the number of surfers have been rising remarkably in India and at the very forefront of this surge lies a group of highly qualified ocean enthusiasts and their surfing school; ’The Bay of Life’.
The motto of the Bay of Life team is “The Ocean is for Everyone” and they definitely live up to it. Their surfing lessons can be taken by anyone above the age of 8 years. They believe that the beauty of the ocean is not something that should be just enjoyed from a distance, basking on the sand. It is something that should be embraced and something that you yourself should be a part of. And thus, apart from surfing, they have several other ocean related adventure sports activities like Kayaking, Paddle boarding and Ocean swimming.
Bay of Life is India’s first accredited Surf school and also the one with the most number of awards and media mentions. We first came to know about it while searching for things to do in and around Chennai apart from the usual partying, malls, Marina and Eliot. When we first read about their surfing lessons, we were quiet skeptical. Does Covelong really have waves good enough for surfing? Can we actually learn Surfing right from the basics in a session of only a couple of hours? Is surfing as awesome as it looks in videos? Will our experience be worth the money we will spend?
Nonetheless, we decided to answer the ocean’s call and give it a shot. We booked a morning surfing lesson in the Bay of Life surf school and reached Covelong at about 8’o clock in the morning. Covelong is around 35 kilometers from Chennai and is easily accessible by a cab (the cab fare will be around Rs. 600) and by bus. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a very cool and amicable trainer named Noel. In the next few hours Noel guided us on our first journey of riding the ocean waves and he did it so well that all our doubts and skepticisms related to surfing in Covelong vanished.
Yes, Covelong definitely has waves perfect for surfing. With trainers like those from the Bay of Life, the basics of Surfing can definitely be learnt in a couple of hours. Noel not only taught us surfing but also some very useful real life lessons related to ocean currents, waves, tides and how not to drown in the sea. Surfing is not as awesome as it looks in videos, it is even better. The thrill you experience when you finally manage to stand up on the surf board with the wave gushing under you is unparalleled even though it lasts only for a few seconds before fall off your board. And the exhilaration of riding your first wave is definitely worth a lot more than the money you will pay for it.
Bay of Life website: http://bayoflife.com/
Bay of Life Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/bayoflife
Bay of Life Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/surfschoolindia