KOTA KINABALU: Although introduced only recently after being identified as a hidden gem for the sport, surfing’s impact on Kg Simpang Mengayau is already becoming evident.
The once dirt road leading to the village, 40km from Kudat town that once depended on oil palms, coconuts and fishing is no more. It has been completely asphalted with chalets and homestays offering tourism packages.
The Sabah Surfing Association that started unofficially 15 years ago, had a hand in the villages’ transformation.
Jasman Oniau, started surfing six years ago after being introduced to the sport by friends from the Association.
The 36-year-old who works as a maintenance staff at the Merrimas Villa there said: “At that time, only a handful of us showed interest in surfing which started when someone from the association, including a friend from Australia gave us a boogie board and a surf board.”
“Now we have local surfers as young as six picking up the sport, you can see people surfing here almost every time the waves are huge.
“Our village became more famous for surfing, thanks to the Music and Surf 2017 Festival organised by Sri Pelancongan Sabah and the Sabah Surfing Association,” he said, hoping Simpang Mengayau will be as famous as other surfing sites in the world someday. Previously noted for the yearly Sunset Music Concert at the tip of Borneo, the site has now been identified by the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry as ideal to promote sports tourism through surfing. Kids like seven-year-old Rungus, Dennis Daniel, show their “pump” surfing skills. Barely four-feet, the boy dreams of becoming a professional surfer having learned how to ride the waves from his brother several months ago.
Dennis was also among groms (surfers below 16) who took part in the first official surf competition held recently at Kalampunian Beach.
Although he didn’t win any placing in the competition, the pupil from Pinangso still showed keen interest in the sport saying “siok tapi dalam” (fun but deep).
Surfing has also captured the interest of local girls, among them is Evita Ceresa from Kota Kinabalu.
The 16-year-old Italian-Sino Kadazan said:
“You don’t have to be a super pro-surfer or skate boarder to surf.
“You can work your way up, so long as you have the passion. If you love to do it, just do it, and have fun.”
“When I first started surfing I was scared of the giant waves in Bali, I was only 10. But once you get used to it, honestly it is not that scary, as long as you can swim, then you are all right.
She came out second in the Women Open Category and bagged the Best Local Women Title at the surf competition this year. “It was my first competition as a surfer. I was nervous but I made a lot of new friends. It is really good fun, a good way to socialise and a good way to advertise surfing in Malaysia,” she said.
‘Our beach is very nice, it is challenging, with smaller waves you don’t get as much leverage, with bigger waves you don’t need to paddle as much. I find surfing here challenging because you really need to paddle and paddling is my weakest part.”
“A lot of women are not into surfing, and there is a stigma that they can’t do it, that surfing is a man’s sport.
“Women can surf and as good as men and have as much fun and enjoy the sport as much as men do,” she said, when asked about challenges faced as a woman surfer.
Source: Daily Express