Catching the golden waves

Rappler.com
It has been said that Pinoys come together wherever they may be. In the case of these surfers, they are giving surfers all over the world another reason to visit the so-called City of Gold.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Sea waves are like a mother’s call to her child or a lover’s whisper to the ear: irresistible, captivating, magnetic.

Such is the case with three Filipinos—surfers in the Philippines—who found the waves of Dubai’s Sunset Beach too good to pass up.

Edwin “El Presidente” Villegas, Oscar Angeles and Julius Franco founded the group Pinoy Surfers of Dubai (PSOD) in 2009. Edwin was working as a personal trainer at Concept 1010, Oscar a claims assistant at an insurance company, and Julius a manager in a courier company. They were regular surfers at the beach whose skills were eventually noticed by beach goers and other surfing hobbyists alike.

In 2010, Eastern Samar champion surfer Abdel Elecho joined the group. Abdel is one of two professional surfers in the group, who also works as a professional surfing instructor and store manager at Surf Shop Dubai. New member Ian Saguan, a champion surfer from La Union who has competed in various international competitions in Japan, Indonesia, Australia, UAE and other parts of the Philippines, also works for Surf Shop Dubai.

In the flow

While some members took surfing lessons, most PSOD members learned to surf through self-study (by watching surf videos) and sharing tips with each other. Abdel, of course, shares his wisdom with the group whenever they surf together. “Knowing how to read the waves is the most crucial part of it. The rest is (about) technique and stamina,” says Abdel. “You learn while trying to surf. It’s hard but that’s the way it goes.”

Professional surfer and photographer Abdel Elecho

Since all PSOD members have day jobs, they don’t really have a regular surfing schedule. They surf whenever their schedules allow it. But whenever there’s a swell (good waves), they always find a way.

Best time, best spots

Abdel says that early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to surf, when the temperature is at its lowest. The best time of the year to surf in Dubai, meanwhile, is from November to April. PSOD members are most commonly surfing at the Umm Suqeim beach near the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel, known to surfers as Sunset Beach. They also surf at Mamzar Park beach # 3.

Edwin says that great surf spots are scattered all over the UAE. The most common ones are in Fujairah, Kalba, and Khorfakkan, but they believe that there are still surf spots that are yet to be discovered. “A recent addition is a wave pool in Al Ain that was opened last January. It produces consistent waves adjustable to one’s skills or level,” he says. “It really is a convenient way to surf, especially during flat spells (when there are no waves).” 

Hobby hazards

Oscar recalls one accident that happened to one of their surfer friends, Dennis Edilorian, at Sunset Beach. “It was a really big swell, really pumping, and our friend Dennis was trying to paddle out to the line-up. The white water was so thick and he was having a difficult time going out,” he recalls. “At the same time, a surfer was unknowingly heading straight at him and hit him on the head with the surfboard. When they got him out of the water, blood was already gushing out of his head.” 

First aid was immediately administered to the injured surfer and he was brought to the hospital for further treatment. After several tests, x-ray showed that the surfboard pierced his skull so he underwent surgery where doctors had to place a titanium plate to cover the hole in his skull. After months of recovery, Dennis went back to surfing and is now known to his friends as “Mr. Titanium.”

PSOD advocates safe surfing, and generously gives tips to new and aspiring surfers. But for serious learners, they refer them to Surf Shop Dubai for official lessons. Roy shares these primary tips for those who are thinking of going into surfing: “Learn the basics of surfing properly. And when surfing, don’t surf alone; surf with someone who has more experience.”

The future of surfing in Dubai is bright, thanks to the Pinoys of PSOD. Photo by Abdel Elecho.

Julius says that PSOD does not discriminate gender and nationality, despite their name. “We have several female surfers in our group,” he says. “And you’ll be surprised to know that PSOD has Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean members, too. Although majority is, of course, Filipinos, other nationalities are more than welcome to join the group.” – Rappler.com

 

(For more information on the Pinoy Surfers of Dubai, call Carl De Villiers or Abdel Elecho at +97143990989. You may also reach them at their Facebook page: Pinoy Surfers of Dubai. RAPPLER welcomes contributions on summer activities and sports. Share with us your summer adventure stories with photos at desk@rappler.com.)