Didaqt, as he is popularly known, is one of the more skillful male riders seen here battling the waves. -Pic by Zainal Aziz

KUANTAN: The sport of surfing has existed since 1757 when explorers spotted Polynesians surfing the waves.

As it gained popularity, surfing was culturally associated with the Hawaiians.

The other US states picked it up eventually, and its exponents spread most notably in California beach cities and as far south as San Diego.

This further evolved into a lifestyle. There were constant surf meets which attracted top surfers from all over the world and offered huge prize money.

Currently, surfing is a famous and lucrative professional sport bringing commercial value to those involved and more importantly, to communities where surfing has become annual sporting events.

These surfing locations are frequented by tourists and sports enthusiasts.

In Peninsular Malaysia, there are strong waves and favourable conditions for surfing during the monsoon season on the east coast.

But, surfing is still in its infancy in the east coast states, particularly Pahang.

Surfing receives strong support from the Pahang branch of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

The ministry believes that the sport has potential, and could benefit the country’s tourism sector as is happening in countries such as the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.

There is much enthusiasm and commitment from individuals and groups involved in the sport.

So much so there is a national surfing association to regulate and supervise this new and unique sport.

One thing’s for sure, youths and teenagers now have another healthy and beneficial lifestyle to be involved in, instead of being lured into negative activities.

Cherating, Pahang, is now on the global surfing map due to the many international surfing meets held there.

Malaysian surfers or riders have also been competing in international tournaments in the Philippines, Bali in Indonesia and Korea.

Surfing has also caught the interest of many women riders and here, Qadeja is maneuvering and riding the waves like a pro. -Pic by Zainal Aziz

Concerted efforts to develop the sport has shown results as several Pahang surfers have qualified to represent Malaysia in the Philippines Southeast Asian (Sea) Games.

A commendable achievement indeed by our talented male and female young surfers.

For those interested and keen to enjoy this water sports, a showcase of competitive surfing can be experienced at the Safari Surfing Grom Search for Kids and Junior Surf Open Challenge 2019 in Cherating from Dec 13-15.

The event is a collaboration with the Pahang govermment and is a must for watersports fans to witness surfers from Malaysia and other countries.

The trip can also be an excellent time to spend with family during the year-end school holidays.

Other locations currently promoting wave surfing are Desaru, Johor, and Penang.

With a regular sports calendar, active and sustained surfing activities and development of more and more professional Malaysian surfers, it will be no surprise if the sport gains further popularity while bringing in tourism revenue.

All the best to all our young national surfers at the Philippines Sea Games and do our country proud with a surfing medal brought home.