Surfing Hainan Island with Ben Skinner.
Like most pro surfers, UK longboarder Ben Skinner’s travel schedule would make anyone jealous. Yet his two recent trips to China to take part in the World Longboard Tour events at Hainan Island have been definite highlights.
“Yeah, it’s a proper bit of travelling alright” said Ben when we spoke to him recently. “I loved it. Next time I go, I want to spend another week or so there exploring the coastline a bit more, cos I reckon there’s no doubt there are some world class waves there”.
Despite spending most of the time competing, Ben and the boys managed to grab one free surf session, which he documented on his iON Air Pro 3. Interestingly Ben decided that he didn’t need any fancy camera mounts and went for the camera between the teeth option!
Here’s Ben on his trip to Hainan and China’s burgeoning surf scene.
That edit looks like fun. How were the waves?
Well that was the only free surf we had, so to get that edit was amazing. Yeah it was real good fun. You need a typhoon to get the waves working really, but there are definitely good waves there. It’s a mad place, it’s what I imagine surfing was like in the UK in the 70s and 80s. It’s that new. There’s a local surf club, but not really any surf shops. You can’t get much out there. But you can see it’s going to start getting bigger. There’s money there, and the government are promoting it as China’s Honolulu.
What were the local surfers like?
One local kid surfed real good. He had some money behind him I think, so he’d done trips away. I think there;s no doubt though that in the future there will be professional surfers coming out of Hainan.
The waves look pretty friendly. Is it better for longboarders?
The wave we were at was a good fun wave, but I think there are some incredible waves around there. Without doubt there are some world class waves waiting to be explored. When I’ve been there I’ve been really busy with the comp, so you end up in a routine – hotel, half an hour drive to beach, comp, back to hotel. It’s not the cheapest place to be either, so next time I’m going to set aside some cash and so some exploring.
Who were you there with?
I was with Adam Griffiths, another one of the UK longboard crew. Then there’s the guys from the tour, who I’ve known since I was a kid really. So it was great to see those guys and hang out in a pretty mad place.
What’s it like over there?
Well I think the weirdest thing is the language barrier really. We get pretty well looked after by the contest, but if you weren’t it would be super difficult. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to hire a car there. It’s a communist country you know, so there’s no internet, no Twitter. The craziest thing for me was turning up and finding out they’d put me on the poster for the event, so there I was on the side of a five-story building. That was mental.