For the first time ever, competition organizers are expecting the lion’s share of the 40 competitors to be Chinese nationals; a big milestone for the sport, which is just starting to come into its adolescence in China.
Commenting on the event, Surfing Hainan founder and event organizer Brendan Sheridan said, “We held the first Surfing Hainan Open four years ago as a loosely-organized party. It’s been great to see the event grow every year, and while it is now a tightly-run ship with some of the industry’s best brands on board, we have still maintained the same vibe. Chinese surfers and Asia’s expat surf community looks forward to the event every year, and it has become not only a serious showcase of local talent, but also Hainan’s best beach festival as well.”
A quick rundown of what to watch for at the 2012 Surfing Hainan Open:
Local favorites include Tie Zhuang, originally from Inner Mongolia, who has been living and surfing in Hainan since 2006. Tie Zhuang finished second in the men’s longboard division in 2011 behind Taiwan’s Chen Tongming. Tie Zhuang will be entering the X-Sories Men’s Longboard with improved noseriding skills, and also be competing in the Vans Men’s Shortboard division.
Hainan resident’s Darci Liu and Monica Guo will lead the charge in the Vans Women’s Longboard, with Zhou Wenling and Hong Chichun being the favorites in the Major Panda Women’s Shortboard.
Rory MacDonald will look to defend his title in the Major Panda Under 16s Grom division, but will face competition from rising star Qiu Zhou. The eight-year-old Chengdu native moved to Hainan three years ago. Last year’s event was his first ever competition, but Qiu Zhou has been seen charging six-foot surf around the island recently, and is looking forward to demonstrating how much he has improved in the last year.
In the Major Panda Mixed SUP division, Hawaiian-native and current Beijing resident Daniel Lau, and California-native and current Shanghai resident Jon Lund will be the two competitors to watch.
This year the event is being presented by audio brand Skullcandy. “Coming down to Hainan’s Riyue Bay for the 5th Annual Surfing Hainan Open is something we are pretty psyched about. This will be our second year taking part as sponsor, and our 4th year being involved with Surfing Hainan. China’s surf scene is still in its infancy, but has already seen some locals stepping up and starting to make the lifestyle and sport their own. To witness that firsthand and be part of it is what is it all about,” said Skullcandy’s China marketing manager, Elijah Kislevitz.
On top of the cash and sponsor prizes to the top four finishers of each division, local surfers have a shot of capturing a wildcard spot in two upcoming ASP competitions in Hainan. The first for the Swatch Girls Pro Women’s Longboard Title (November 21-25), and the second for the Hainan Classic (January 2013).
For more information and application forms, head over to surfinghainanopen.com.