Kovalam is essentially a fishing village although it is known for its beach culture as well. If you happen to go on a weekend to Kovalam, do not be surprised to find people from across age-groups split in groups with their surfboards going towards the ocean. Each group has a teacher who instructs the eager enthusiasts and gives out tips to sail through the unruly waves. Kovalam has emerged as a popular destination to learn surfing not just for Indians but is now seeing a steady stream of foreigners interested in learning the sport.
At the centre of this revolution is a guy named Murthy Megavan, who has taken enormous efforts to channelize the energy of the youngsters in the area towards a constructive activity. Belonging to a poor fisherman’s family, the young guy wanted to ride the waves along with supporting his family through catch of the day. He learnt surfing on his own by using wooden planks and flotsam as surfboards. Eventually a chance meeting in 2001 with Jack Hebner, an American who brought surfing to India, made him famous among surfing community in the country and many foreigners also started visiting the place. After Murthy’s surfing talent got noticed, many started coming over to learn surfing and finally in 2012, businessman Arun Vasu decided to invest in him and thus, was born the famous Covelong Point Surf School.
Murthy has trained numerous youngsters from the village in surfing who in turn train enthusiasts who come from far and wide. Surfing has opened a window of opportunity for the fishermen families in the area and provides them an alternate source of income. Along with this school, there are a few other surfing schools in the area. If you happen to walk in over weekends, you will see plenty of people learning how to ‘paddle’ and ‘pop’ (learning how to stand on the surfboard). The advanced learners will be seen riding the waves on their surfboards trying to hone their skills.
The Covelong Point also hosts a surf, music and yoga festival every year, which is extremely popular. Youngsters from Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other parts of the country take part in surfing competitions, artistes and music bands sing soulful melodies in the evening and early mornings are reserved for ensuring fitness of mind and body through yoga. This year the festival will be held from August 26 to 28.