Ishita is the first female surfer in India. She and her partner, Tushar, are co-founders of The Shaka Surf Club – the first surf school to be supported by Quiksilver in India.
Ever since we were kids, Tushar and I have always wanted to learn how to surf. Like almost everyone else, we just assumed that there were no waves in India and we’d probably have to go to California one day to start surfing! Little did we know that our decision to move from the big city of Mumbai to the small university town of Manipal would change our lives forever! It was five years ago in Manipal that we caught our very first waves, and it was MAGICAL! Discovering that you could actually surf in India was… MAGICAL! Back then, the only thoughts that crossed our minds were, “Why haven’t we been doing this all our lives?” and “We’re going to be doing this for the rest of our lives!”
We have a very small surf community here in India. We’re a tribe of just over a hundred surfers, who’ve been forever enchanted by the sea. We may be scattered all over the east and west coasts, but it’s our love for the sea that brings us together. It’s such an exciting time to be a surfer in India. We’re a family of first generation surfers who, funnily enough, have the joy of pushing our mums and dads into their very first waves! We’ve all had simple surf beginnings, and we each have a unique story to share about how we first started surfing; from riding hand-me-down surfboards left behind by travelling surfers, to fixing our broken boards with duct tape and local resin.
It was in the summer of 2007, that Tushar and I saved up enough money and bought our very first board! We were so stoked! Back then there were no surf shops and it was really hard to find any surf equipment in India. Waves or no waves were at the beach every Sunday without fail, surfing from sunrise to sunset! In between sessions we’d lie on the shore and dream of the days when we’d both have a surfboard for ourselves and imagine ourselves as future pro surfers, surfing some of the best waves in the world!
As we kept surfing, we wanted to share our stoke of surfing with others and so, The Shaka Surf Club was born! What started out as a couple of college kids teaching their friends how to surf eventually evolved into one of the first surf schools in India! The Shaka Surf Club is all about freedom in the waves, good vibes, not taking things too seriously, and learning to just go with the flow. The word ‘Shaka’ literally means “hang loose” or “take it easy.”
We were super excited when we found out that Quiksilver was coming to India. For us it meant the start of a new chapter for surfing in India. Having no one else to learn from, we’ve always followed and been inspired by Quiksilver and Roxy athletes. It’s by watching their surf videos, that we’ve been able to improve our surfing. You can only imagine our excitement when Quiksilver informed us that they wanted to support our surf school… it was like a sign from the Surf Gods that we were meant to keep surfing!
Quiksilver is dedicated towards finding and supporting new talent in India and as sponsored athletes, Tushar and I feel so fortunate to have access to surf clothing and surf equipment that we didn’t have earlier. As India’s first Roxy girl, I even had the amazing opportunity to be a part of next year’s prestigious Roxy Spring Summer 2013 campaign! I cannot tell you how great it feels to have been given the opportunity to travel, surf and meet fellow Roxy athletes who’ve inspired me as a surfer!
Surfing in India is still in its infancy but everyday our surf community is growing. Every year we organize small surf events, meet up with all the surfers in the country, talk about surfing and share ideas! In fact we’re heading to Pondicherry this week, to participate in the 2012 Summer Swell Challenge which is being sponsored by Quiksilver. It’s going to be a surf competition with both Indian and international surfers participating. We’re excited to meet our friends there, support them in the competition, and just see the level of talent that is emerging here.
India is probably the last frontier for undiscovered surf in the world! We have 7000 kilometers of coastline just waiting to be explored and the adventure lies in finding and riding waves that have never been surfed before!