Surfing Swami Interviews Jonty Rhodes
© Rammohan Paranjape
Article by Surfing Swami on 6 February 2014 in Redbull.
Tete-a-tete with Mumbai Indian’s fielding coach and India’s surf ambassador.
Surfing Swami: Jonty, you are a legendary South African cricketer and currently the fielding coach for the Mumbai Indians. What first got you into surfing? When and where did you begin surfing?
Jonty: I started surfing when I retired from cricket, at the start of 2004, as I had figured that as somebody who had lead a pretty active lifestyle for the past 15 years playing cricket and hockey, I would want to remain fairly fit. I lived in Durban at the time and found the conditions ideal for groms (of all ages), as the water was warm all year round, and the beachfront piers made the paddle out to backing a great deal easier!
Surfing Swami: What inspired you to become the International Surf Ambassador for India?
Jonty: I spend a great deal of time in India, and fortunately, love every trip I make, be it business, or the business of cricket!
Cricket gets the lion's share of sponsorship [in India] and exposure [I] and wanted to try and shine a little "light" on the great work the Surf Federation is doing, and the amazing potential India has as a surfing destination, for local and foreign surfers.
Paddling up to a swell at Kovalam, Kerala. © Rammohan Paranjape
Surfing Swami: What are your favorite surf destinations in the world and which [if any] surfers in the world have inspired your surfing?
Jonty: J-Bay on the Eastern coast of South Africa is one of my favorite spots to surf, ANYWHERE in the world!
I have been inspired by Mick Fanning, as I met him on the Gold Coast while I was playing beach cricket there a few years ago, and he took me off for a surf session at one of his favorite spots!
Surfing Swami: What places in India have you surfed? And what are your plans for further surf sessions in India? Do you plan on frequently coming to India to surf?
Jonty: I have been to surf contests in Kovalam Bay and Covelong Point in Kerala and Chennai respectively. In addition, I have surfed at Vizag during the 2012 IPL when Deccan Charges had one of their home venues in Vizag.
I have also had the opportunity to spend time, in and out of the water, with the guys at Mantra Surf Club in Mulki, and hope to be coming back to Mangalore region more frequently in the future to help out with the development of a high performance center and resort there.
Jonty rips a tide at Covelong Point Surf Contest. © Rammohan ParanjapeSurfing Swami: How would you compare a good surf session with having a good day on the cricket field?
Jonty: Cricket had become a job these days and so a good day on the field would equate to a good result at the office where you could see the benefits through a promotion or a pay rise! A good surf session benefits your soul, which has a much bigger impact on your life than a better salary!
Surfing Swami: What do you see for the future of surfing in India? Do you think that Indians have what it takes to eventually develop world class surfing skills, even becoming world class competitors?
Jonty: Surfing in India has great potential, as there are 1000's of kilometers of coastline, most of which are devoid of any surfers - a rarity in other surfing areas [of the world]! This will allow local surfers to enjoy many hours in the water, having the best selection of waves, which can fast track their competitiveness. However, with no real "local" role models to look up to, the Indian surfer needs to seek out assistance from international coaches who are prepared to come to India and develop the sport.
With the Covelong Point Crew. © Rammohan Paranjape
Surfing Swami: How do you think surfing in India might be different or special compared to surfing in other countries where the sport has been developed already for several generations?
Jonty: I think that the exciting thing about there being hardly any surfing culture in India, is that the growth and improved skill levels will grow rapidly, and big differences will be noted, almost immediately.
Jonty with Mantra Surf Club crew in Mulki. © Rammohan Paranjape
Surfing Swami: As a professional athlete and a surfing enthusiast, what message do you have for India's up and coming young competitive surfers?
Jonty: There is no shortcut to success - it requires hard work. However, if you are living what you are doing, it never feels like work, and you are able to put in many extra hours, honing your skills. Basically, you need to live every surf session, whether the waves are good, average or bad!!
Surfing Swami: Thank you Jonty, its been a pleasure chatting with you.
Jonty: My pleasure, see you in the water!