Words- Udeshi Amarasinghe Photographs- Mahesh Bandara and Menaka Aravinda
There was excitement in the air as the crowds gathered on the beach. As the waves rolled in with surfers completing their ride, loud cheers erupted. The first National Surfing Championship was gathering momentum in Arugambay!
THE first National Surfing Championship to be held for Sri Lankan surfers, the competition provided an opportunity for contestants from around the country to participate in a profes-sional level competition. Organised by the Surf- ing Federation of Sri Lanka, the championship was supported by various establishments in Arugambay, all coming together to encourage Sri Lankan surfers to reach their potential.
Following the completion of the competition, a Sri Lankan national team will be formed where focused training as well as participation in competitions will provide the experience and expertise for the team to perform internationally. With surfing being introduced for the first time to the Olympics in 2020, this provides an impetus for Sri Lanka to form a national team consisting of both men and women.
A unique aspect of the National Surfing Championship in Arugambay was the pres- ence of young Sri Lankan women surfers, who though did not participate in the competition itself, were present to provide their support for this endeavour. The crowds included both Sri Lankan and nationals from various countries all coming together to give their encouragement and to also be a part of the fun. Paper Moon Kudils, Arugambay Roccos, ArugamBay PodBay and Explore Sri Lanka sponsored surfer Lesitha Prabath, who is one of the best surfers in the country. His talent, skill and calm perseverance is admirable.
The finals were between Asanka Waduga (Arugambay Surf Club), Lesitha Prabath (Arugambay Surf Club), Praneeth Sandaruwan (Arugambay Surf Club) and Nadeen Sampath (Mambo’s, Hikkaduwa).
As the finals progressed it was apparent that it was going to be a close competition. The waves were superb strong and long that enabled the surfers to show their skills, as they bal- anced and moved according to the rhythm of the waves.
As each surfer passed, the cheers rose. The surf competition was judged by a panel consisting of both International and Sri Lankan judges. Tim Jones, International Surfing Association advisor to the Surf Federation of Sri Lanka was the head judge. Once the surfing was completed for the day, the judges deliberated to announce Lesitha Prabath as the winner and the National Champion, first Runner-up Praneeth Sandaruwan, second Runner-up Asanka Waduga and third Runner-up Nadeen Sampath. Paper Moon Kudils, Arugambay Roccos, Arugambay PodBay and Explore Sri Lanka sponsored the prizes for the winner and three runners-up.
The first National Surfing Championship was indeed a success, which would definitely provide the exposure and stepping stone for a brilliant future for Sri Lankan surfing.