Surf in Singapore: Changi’s rare waves attract surfers unable to travel for their sport

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SINGAPORE: Just off the coast of Changi, a line of surfers and windsurfers caught the waves and wind on a sunless Wednesday afternoon (January 13).

While this spot near the National Service Resort & Country Club has been known to Singaporean surfers for decades, it is generally not as popular.

“It’s a once in a blue moon,” said a surfer wearing a black rash guard, hair streaming down as he walked on the sandy beach.

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The waves are gentle, just high enough for dozens of surfers, including children, to surf. Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, there appeared to be around 80 people on the beach and in the water.

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Mr. Ho Kah Soon, director of Constant Wind, a water sports center near the spot, estimated that there were around three times as many surfers here than in other years.

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Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have resulted in a “wave” of people coming not only to surf but also to practice other water sports, he said.

People surfing off Changi in Singapore on January 12, 2021 (Photo: Lim Weixiang)

Changi surfing in Singapore

People surfing off Changi in Singapore on January 13, 2021 (Photo: Chew Hui Min)

A few surfers told TBEN they were there for the first time this week after seeing reports and photos on social media of a surf spot in Singapore.

Passionate about American surfing, Jonathan, who gave only his first name, came to discover the spot because he could not go to Bali.

“For Singapore it’s good. I probably wouldn’t paddle if I was at home… It’s too small. But it’s doable,” he said, as he prepared. to get into the water.

MIke Lim surfer

SEA Games athlete Michael Lim surfing in Changi on January 13, 2021 (Photo: Chew Hui Min)

Large waves are formed when the wind picks up seawater over large expanses of ocean, and their size also depends on the topography of the seabed.

They are almost unknown in Singapore, and at this eastern point of the island, it is also rare to have waves high enough to surf: the conditions must be perfect.

Parts of Southeast Asia are now in the middle of the northeast monsoon season, which lasts from December to March.

There has also been a wave of rainy weather and stronger winds, and at low tide the white caps will appear. The waves should only last one to two weeks.

A number of surfers have said they’ve been there every afternoon since Sunday when the waves started. Their surfboards have been dry since travel restrictions were tightened in March and there was an upbeat vibe in the air as people paddled and tried to catch the surf at their waist.

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Mr Michael Lim, 45, who represented Singapore on the country’s first surf team at the SEA Games last year, said he would normally be in Desaru, Malaysia at this time of year.

The athlete, who has been surfing since the late 1990s, said he goes to Bali once every fortnight – but that was out of the question now.

Mike Lim surfing in Singapore

Mr. Michael Lim surfing off Changi in Singapore on January 12, 2021 (Photo courtesy of Michael Lim)

Mr Lim said the Changi spot was discovered around 2000 by a friend of his who was a lifeguard in the area, and they nicknamed it “Longkang Point” after a large drain nearby. It was the first year Mr. Lim was surfing here – thanks to COVID-19.

“We try to make the most of it … You can feel a positive vibe because, especially now during COVID, everyone is quite stressed. Surfing is a good way to relieve stress,” he said. declared.

Mr Khairul Anuar, a member of the Singapore Surf Association who has surfed there for many years, said he had mixed feelings that their “playground” was becoming an open secret due to the media. social.

While he was happy that there were so many people interested in surfing, he was also concerned that too many people would come to the surf spot and newcomers would be aware of the possible dangers.

Since they are at the mouth of a large drain, there are rip currents that can sweep people out to sea, he said. They also spotted dangerous wildlife in the area.

“You have to remember that you are in the ocean so there are stingrays … There have also been reports of stonefish and jellyfish,” he said, adding that surfers should wear their leashes, which attach them to their boards, for added security.

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