Surfing is Coming to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! By BookSurfCamps.com

Whether you love or hate the Olympics, the news that Tokyo 2020 is going to have surfing as one of the rounds is definitely become a talking point for the surfing community. Our friends at  Booksurfcamps.com take a look at the surfing world’s reaction in the blog below.

(Image credit: Olympic.org)

Surfers and surf lovers, rejoice! As of August 3, 2016, surfing is officially an Olympic sport! It will be included in the Tokyo 2020 program, alongside Karate, baseball/softball, skateboarding and sport climbing.

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At the beginning of this month, just as the Olympics Games in Rio were in full blast, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it would add 5 new sports to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which add up to a grand total of 474 athletes competing in 18 new events. There are currently 28 Summer Olympic sports and the event program is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.

Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee President motivated the decision with the desire to introduce sports to the young. He explained:

“With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”

The focus on young athletes was highlighted again by Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo 2020 President, who stated that the inclusion of the sports will allow young athletes to have a shot at their dreams of being in the Olympics. Also taken into consideration when assessing the inclusion of the sports in the Olympic program, was the gender equality impact and the legacy value.

But all is not rosy among the surf community. The reaction from surfing fans and surfers in general has been less than enthusiastic. Some, including surf legend Kelly Slater, have spoken out about the possible issues with evaluating surfers in the Olympics. Slater mentioned something that all surf lovers know, that surfing is a sport that is highly location and weather-dependent sport. Choosing to bestow the Olympic gold medal to someone, declaring them to be the best in the world, based on a single event, would leave plenty of room for error.

But, many people have already solved this issue by suggesting the introduction of a wave pool. Kelly Slater himself has been working on constructing a wave pool that gives perfect barrels for nearly a decade. He unveiled it this year, in Bakersfield, California and many believe that this could be the answer to the 2020 Olympics.

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Others, such as Corky Carroll, a former pro surfer, simply believes that “Surfing is too cool for the Olympics”. Skateboarders have also been keen to share with the world their unenthusiastic reaction to the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics, saying that skateboarding is not a sport. They even seemed to be offended by the inclusion, and created an online petition aimed at Bach, asking for the removal of skateboarding from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Regardless of the side you are on, when it comes to surfing becoming an Olympics event, we can all agree that exposure of the sport can only help surfing. It has long stopped being something that only a handful of people could do, teens or men. Surfing is for everyone, for men and women, for young and old. No matter who you are and what you do, you can enjoy surfing. Whether you are just starting out and are in dire need of a surf lesson, or you’re hoping to get to the 2020 Olympics, surfing is your means of expression. And something this wonderful needs to be celebrated and promoted.

Cristina is the Community Manager of BookSurfCamps.com, a surf-themed website offering a vast collection of surf camps & holidays. She is also a passionate traveler, cat aficionado and novice writer.

 

Japan – The Photography Edit by Simon Bath

Last year my wife and I used our honeymoon to realise a long-lived ambition to visit Japan. As first time visitors we found it difficult to decide where to spend our time, everything seemed so appealing. After a fair bit of research, we decided that the best use of our time was to stay around central Japan. Between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka we managed to get a good introduction to Japan and the many things it has to offer.

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Meet the Photographers! Simon Bath

Simon is a very exciting new addition to our team, he has an unparalleled passion for travel and is pretty crafty with a camera. We can’t wait to see what he will bring to the team!
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Currently working as a Visual FX producer at The Mill, London, before which I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time traveling around.

I’ve seen quite a bit of Asia, Australasia, The Americas, and Europe, and I started picking up a few photography tips as I went.

My photography style or identity is still a work in progress, I enjoy various different subjects and environments from street photography to landscapes, getting inspiration from new places or finding something new in the everyday.

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Ocean Encounters and Bonin Islands – By Kaori Freda

Reef sharks loiter two feet away, staring at me with curious, wide open eyes. 


Perhaps they were messengers from the reef, saying “We’ve abided your fluttering about in this ocean of ours, but it’s high time you went home and left us in peace.”

Or maybe they were a pair of oceanic bouncers, barring my entry to the sea beyond.

Chances are they were simply curious about the large blobby creature floating on the surface, and came to investigate. What a strange thing, they probably thought in their fishy brains, what a creature! I was the sole swimmer in the sea, sporting black fins. To the sharks, I probably seemed like a clumsy thing that certainly didn’t look like the octopus morsels that it toted along.

I had been in the midst of shoving my hook, line, and floater into the plastic mesh bag I had been dragging around as I snorkeled on the Bonin Islands in Japan, in hopes of catching and containing a tasty fish. I had caught a gorgeously bright neon fish, a species that was much more agile and friendly than the others I had seen, trailing after me at times. It would have been a sin to have eaten it, so I let it go.

I had trouble getting the hook out of its mouth, and it took me several agonising attempts. The fish was mostly patient about it but would jerk away when I jabbed at its little mouth too hard or abruptly pulled at the stuck metal bit.

The second time I nearly caught a fish that I had been targeting; a huge spotted fish lurked under some coral and nearly took the bait, but quickly, it grew suspicious. Now and again, as I paddled tight circles above the coral, resisting the gentle waves, I could see its head peering out from under the coral like a housewife opening the windows to air the house.

The third time, I thought I caught a fish, a small brown one with bulging eyes, but it sought refuge in a crevice and I lose the weight when I jerked too hard on the line. It must have gotten entangled by a piece of coral, since the fish was pretty small and couldn’t have put up that much of a fight.

That’s when I noticed, out of the corner of my vision, that two sharks were lingering quite nearby, peering at me with glints in their dull fishy eyes. That morning, I had read online that when threatened, sharks swim about in an exaggeratedly slow and sinuous way. These two were simply drifting in place, their pointy snouts angled in such a way so they could keep staring at me.

I decided to dump the silly plan that I had concocted before I saw the pair – to stow the line and my life jacket and try to free dive 20 feet for the weight.

I scampered, mesh bag trailing after me, octopus juice probably spewing everywhere in my wake. After a handful of smooth kicks I looked back to see if I had any followers. The sharks were tailing me, immediately to my right. I muttered a muffled “shit, that can’t be good,” into my breathing pipe and determinedly swam faster, with fewer excess movements.

In that moment, I decided not to look back, thinking that if they decided to bite then that was that. But I had also remembered that Chika had told me that nobody on Chichijima had ever been bitten and the best thing to do in the presence of sharks is to remain calm in an encounter rather than foolishly thrash about and excite the creatures. And, apparently, sharks feast at night. In the mornings and afternoons, they are more drowsy and content, unless roused.

When faced with human threat, most animals would rather take flight than ready for battle and attack, (a piece of wisdom garnered from Pi, a shipwreck survivor stuck with a Bengali Tiger for more than 200 days in a lifeboat adrift in the Pacific, from The Life of Pi, an audiobook I’ve been obsessively listening to recently). With all these tidbits floating around somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept calm. If I were a more experience diver/snorkeller/swimmer, say, a professional for the National Geographic (a far-off dream,) then I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. I probably never really had anything to worry about, but the human mind will do silly things when faced with an animal that society has made out to be a vicious man-eater (thanks to Jaws).

I reached the shallows, looked back, and sighed a breathe of relief. How exciting. I made it, in one piece.


Once I was out of the sea and on the beach, I trotted past rusty war paraphernalia imbedded partway in the sand, a tragic relic from WWII that nobody likes to talk about. (I usually store my bag and water in a foxhole near the shore, to protect my belongings from the pitter-patter of the rain.) I’m biking home now, stopping to write this little adventure on my defunct iPhone.

Since I almost drowned off the coast of Morocco, near Berrechid, I’ve mostly avoided the water. But now that I’m surrounded by it, I can’t resist but explore the life teaming below the water’s surface. I’ve watched more fish than I’ve ever seen in my life. Many of them can also be found in Hawaii~ bright, neon, jittery little things, or dull, vapid creatures combing the ocean floor and coral reef for tiny bits of food, algae, or polyps. I’ve seen cuttlefish, blue-barred parrotfish, angelfish, giant clams, frightened little sea snakes peering out of holes, blue sea stars, and a whole rainbow’s worth of sea urchins. I’d like to stay here forever. I’ll be here at least three months, hopefully more.

Yesterday a manta ray, like a dark angel of the sea, circled around me before winging its way into the ocean deep.

Today, sharks. What will tomorrow bring?