The East Coast Road is buzzing with action. If the 44th Chess Olympiad is keeping Chennaites excited, residents now have another reason to make a beeline in that direction — the Covelong Classic to be held on August 5-7 at Surf Turf in Kovalam.
Since its inception in 2013, this event has been growing steadily, with 20,000 visitors attending the 2019 edition, including former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, after which the pandemic ebbed the tide.
‘Mahabs Point Break Challenge
Arun Vasu, President of the Surfing Federation of India (SFI) the country’s recognised body for surfing, told BusinessLine, “Last year, we did hold a small-scale surfing event alone but with necessary Covid protocols. This time though we have brought back the Covelong Classic which includes the Covelong Point Surf Competition, live music, food, and other fitness activities.”
Wave of interest
Vasu expects over 80 participants to take part in the event hosted by the Covelong Point Social Surf School and the TT Group in association with the SFI.
“We have also invited surfers from the Maldives and Sri Lanka,” he says. “Mahabalipuram has one of the best surf points in India while the one at Kovalam is a faster zone. With the Chess Olympiad taking place close by, we are certainly expecting more visitors this year.”
On August 1 & 2, the organisers are holding the ‘Mahabs Point Break Challenge’ — the National Surf Championship.
“We are hoping to expand with five more events next year and make this place a surfing circuit,” says Vasu, who is also the Managing Director of TT Group. “Now that the Olympic Committee included surfing at the Tokyo Games, we are motivated to make this a large place, and the next five years will be definitely exciting.”
All for local
He also notes that this year, the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu is the platinum sponsor of the Covelong Classic along with Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles.
“I think this shows that the government is recognising the need for surfing in this place,” Vasu says. “That was, in fact, our first intention as well — to offer the fisher folks of this village an alternate means of income. We are always focused on teaching young children to get into surfing.”
He then credited the support extended by the local panchayat and families of the fishing community.
“During the festival, you can see over forty food stalls set up by the people here,” Vasu informs and adds smiling: “People who come from Chennai very much love the food or the local talent who take part in the music shows. They are even more impressed to find the fishermen looking cool with surfboards!”