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Pacific surf as a way of life
Taras Sharyga on the development in Kamchatka of a business related to extreme sports
The edge of the earth, the magnificent nature, the huge waves of the Pacific Ocean - not only from other regions of Russia come flying to Kamchatka, but also foreigners are frequent guests here. In the region, nature itself has created all the conditions for high-quality and professional surfing: good waves, a sandy beach. But not everything is so simple. As for many sports, there is not enough infrastructure for surfing in Kamchatka, and there are not so many residents of the region who are really keen on riding the wave. However, surfing, known to Europeans since the 18th century, is gradually gaining momentum in Kamchatka. Entrepreneur Taras Sharyga, who develops a business associated with extreme sports, told us about how this sport is developing on the peninsula, and last year opened the Quiksilver surfing school on the Pacific coast.
“Years ago, 12 ago, I tried surfing and immediately realized that this could be an excellent form of leisure and travel. Once I went on vacation in Morocco and wanted to try to get on the board there. On the beach, he met a very famous local surfer Bob. His picture even hung at the local airport. Bob told me that he managed to learn in Russia and the girl from him was Russian. I came just to try surfing, and he introduced me to his friends and as much as possible immersed in the surfing atmosphere. Plus the ocean is a deep immersion in nature. I liked it all and, probably, that click happened at that moment when it became wildly interesting.
- How are things going with surfing in Kamchatka? What are his prospects?
- I have been involved in various extreme sports for many years, and the issue of development is quite complicated. Our infrastructure is clearly not enough to determine the prospects. Kamchatka is a winter region, for summer surfing the season is short. If you are lucky with the weather, from mid-June to mid-September. But this year, for example, the beginning of summer was cold and the season shifted. This is probably the main disadvantage and the main factor that affects the development of a culture of surfing in our area. Those who are interested in this sport are not so many in Kamchatka. This is not hundreds, but even dozens of people. But we are the only region in Russia where surfing can fully develop, and the only place in the country where there is the Pacific Ocean. Just perfect conditions for surfing.
- Surfing in Kamchatka, its development, what goals do you set for yourself?
- In all the projects that I launch, I have one of the main goals - to show young residents of Kamchatka an alternative to life, which they think or dream of outside the region. You always want to give the opportunity to get involved in something cool, which is not found anywhere else in Russia. In terms of surfing, we can talk about Sochi, Peter, about Vladivostok. But there is sea surfing, these are not those waves. From the point of view of the quality of conditions, there is no place in our country that can be compared with Kamchatka. Therefore, in general, I see great prospects in the development of this sport with us, but rather it will occur on such a massive scale with people who will come here as tourists.
- What can be done to attract people to this sport?
- Tourists in general are interested in Kamchatka as a region, and many who surf do want to ride here. But this is often at one time. People come, surf and return home. This is exotic - an opportunity to test yourself in cold water. Many residents of Kamchatka are afraid of the ocean, someone in general, having been born on a peninsula, has never been there. We do our best to attract people. Last year we did the project Go surfing, in the framework of which we gave everyone the opportunity to try surfing for everyone who wished to Kamchatka. There were a lot of volunteers, more 300 people. The task was simply to attract people, and we saw a huge interest among the residents of Kamchatka. Many people just wanted to try something new, and there were those who are now in love with the ocean and surfing. Both are happy. It is very cool!
- Why did you choose the Quiksilver brand for your school?
- Our company has been representing this brand in Kamchatka for four years. Quiksilver is the largest company in the field of extreme sports. The first is surfing and snowboarding. The idea to open your school arose long ago. In this case, everything that we do in business, we do with a very strong ideological component. I'm talking about the goal to develop sports, and the opening of the school was an integral part of the business. We have been going to this for several years, since this is a serious work. It is not easy to take people to the ocean. We had to seriously prepare for this project.
Under the brand Quiksilver surf school is in many countries around the world. In Russia, ours is the first. We studied abroad and borrowed the experience of such schools in Europe, imposed on our reality and created virtually everything on the Pacific coast from scratch. Perhaps our experience will also be useful to other regions in Russia.
- You started school last year. How are you, what are your plans?
“Last year we launched a pilot project in order to understand what level of infrastructure and scale of the project we need. Since the ocean and the board is not enough. We need good conditions: take a shower, drink tea, spend time in nature, spend the night. We realized this year that just as a school of surfing, this project cannot exist. Because it is expensive to travel every day from Petropavlovsk to the ocean. We need living conditions, and we began to create them. This year we built a surf camp. Installed tipi (look like the plague. - Approx. Ed.), Where the double bed is located, there is heating. One of our important tasks is that everything we do on the ocean fit into the overall concept created by nature itself. Everything should be eco-friendly, beautiful and harmonious. Surfing as a way of life and a sport is, first of all, interaction with nature. Therefore, the entire format of our camp should be consonant with the fact that a person sees around him.
- Surfing school is not only a board and the ocean, it’s, after all, above all, also people. How is your staff?
- An important element of the project is the team: surf instructors, administrator, cook, assistants. About five people. They are not from Kamchatka - they come from different regions. We give them the opportunity not only to work with us, but also to travel - we teach surfing, who do not know how. Everything conceived becomes an ideological and strong project, when people do not just do their job, and infect every visitor with their love for surfing. Next year we plan to create conditions to receive more people. I think that learning to surf, the possibility of living on the ocean, energy and beauty of nature, our care and level of service allow us to be sure that surfing will become a promising sport in Kamchatka.
- You are actively engaged in what for you personally surfing?
- Surfing for me is more a way of life. Therefore, if you ask me if I do surfing, and I mean by this way of life, then I definitely can say “yes”. If we talk about surfing as a sport, in order to progress and achieve results, you need to study every day and constantly learn. In my case, this happens infrequently, not enough time. But I have a great desire to do this and always, when such an opportunity is issued, I go to the ocean.