Off the coast of the South China Sea, on the island of Hainan, stands a 1,600-square-foot “surf facility” in an area the Chinese Government hopes will soon become a major surfing destination. The island, complete with its tropical climate, swooping beaches, and surprisingly hospitable lineups, has plenty of potential for fulfilling the government’s grandiose dreams of creating a “Chinese Waikiki.” There’s only one problem: currently there is no real surf scene in China. There are more than 1.3 billion people living in the country and only a few dozen of them call themselves surfers. But if the hopes of the Chinese government and a few major players in the surf industry come to fruition, all of that could potentially change.
In October of 2011, under the banner of the Swatch Girls Pro in Hainan, the ASP took a historical step for professional surfing when it sanctioned its first event in China. The announcement from the ASP was initially met with varying degrees of speculation that included some surfers taking issue with China’s checkered history with human rights violations, but come the conclusion of the contest, the widely accepted view was that professional surfing’s first venture into China had been a success. The figurative path had been cleared and in the coming months, the ASP would continue their venture into China yet again, holding the ISA China Cup and the 4-star Hainan Cup in January of this year.