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Surfing the Waves
This story appears in the November 2018 issue of School LIVE.
With each new sport where a young person conquers uncharted territories, a different horizon opens up for generations to come. Surfing is almost unimaginable for the vast majority of Indian audiences. But there is a girl creating waves with her feats. We interviewed Tanvi Jagadish, the first girl from India to represent the country at the international Surf Up Paddling championship.

When did you get drawn towards water surfing?

I was 10 years old when my grandfather took me to the Surf Ashram Retreat in Mangaluru. I was always a beach bum and was drawn to the ocean like a magnet. When I surfed for the first time, it was a life altering moment for me. Since then I realized that this sport will be the first love of my life. I have overcome every obstacle since then to pursue surfing and Stand Up Paddling (SUP) today. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider waits for the waves to come, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.

Confused between SUP and Surfing?

Stand Up Paddling (SUP) uses a paddle to ride the waves, and for movement; while Surfing requires the surfer’s body. One needs their own hands to paddle and use the weight of the body while riding the waves. SUP boards are heavier, thicker and much longer; while Surf boards are lighter and comparatively shorter in length.



From the time you got into this sport how much time and what kind of dedication was demanded of you?

Surfing as a sport is not very well recognized in India. There is so much to explore and know, which is why every day is a new learning experience for me. Oceans are very different and temperamental, so each day I learn something new to bring me a step closer to understanding the vast ocean. I have been practicing religiously since the day I first discovered this sport. To be honest, you can never really say that you know any sports completely.

It took me 4 years to participate in the nationals that happened in 2015 at Chennai. I remember winning my first nationals at this event. Currently, I am a 6 times Stand Up Paddle racing champion in India. In 2016, I represented India for the first time in the World Cup and lived my dream of holding the National flag. At the age of 16, I ranked amongst the  top 16 in the world and it was the happiest moment for my team, our surfing and SUP community in India.



How do you go about balancing your time between studies and practicing this sport?

Surfing is my passion, but no passion is complete without a proper education. I won't say that it is easy but today I have a fixed schedule which allows me to pursue my passion and formal education side by side. I start my day by 3:30 in the morning to catch up on my studies and post that I go for my surfing lessons. My entire day is a juggle between college, gym and surfing lessons.

When there is so much happening around me, I have always had the strong support of my parents, teachers and coaching team, to help smoothen my hectic life a little.



Considering that surfing is not very common in India, how do you feel being the sole Indian to participate in the Singapore Ocean Cup?

To be the only one to represent one's country internationally is a feeling of utmost pride. Now that I have excelled in this sport, I dream that more girls represent India in the future. I have already started training a few kids at my surf school and have recently been given my SUP Instructor Certificate.

It only motivates me further when I know that I am the first Indian female to be awarded this certificate. I have also qualified for the SUP racing World Cup in Paris this year, but, I will not be able to attend it because of funding issues. One of the major bottlenecks we face is the money. It is really difficult to raise funds for these important events since we don't get any support from the government for individual athletes and SUP team India.


How would you want to educate the public and the government about the sport?

At my level I have already started training other young aspirants in the field of surfing. I am very active on all my social media accounts and keep posting new information about my achievements in this sport. Today in India, cricket, hockey and football have gained immense recognition. With the help of my family and friends, I want to educate more people about the marvels that this sport holds.


Why should more sports enthusiasts take up surfing as a sport?

Surfing and stand up paddling is one of the most beautiful sports practiced in the world. It helps one improve physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. India is blessed with a long coastline, and it is an absolutely different feel to observe the place from the ocean.

To be able to fit into the modern fast paced world and yet have time to be close to nature by connecting to the ocean is an enchanting experience. Understanding the ocean and being with her is the best enjoyment for the world. So I can only urge more people to take up this sport.


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