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Get On Board With Surfing in Bangladesh!

Zach Trein, a native Floridian and avid surfer, joined Surfing The Nations almost three  years ago as a full time staff member. Zach’s primary goal was to go to Bangladesh and develop the surf culture.  By providing the education and tools needed for the
locals to produce and maintain their own boards, Zach has been doing just that. Here, he shares his account of the first time he heard about Bangladesh and the progress he’s seen since arriving in the seaside town of Cox’s Bazar. Enjoy! 

“Surfing has taken root in Bangladesh. Jafar Alam, the country’s first surfer, is a national celebrity whose days are packed teaching  and promoting the sport throughout his country. He is one of 60 core Bangladeshis who call themselves surfers and are pioneering the sport to creating their own unique surf culture. Yet in a country of 160,000,000 people, where surfing popularity is spreading like fire, why are there only 60 regular surfers? The answer is simple: The number of surfers is determined by the same number of surfboards available. Surfing the Nations recognized this need and started meeting it by bringing surfboards from Hawaii to Bangladesh every year since 2003. support the surfing community.

After meeting Jafar in Indonesia in 2008, and hearing about the great need for surfboards and basic things like surf wax, a dream that I buried years ago reignited. The dream that started on my first day surfing: to make surfboards. The lure of getting to work, creating, shaping, painting, and surfing on something I had made fascinated me. The ability to close up shop and head to the beach when the waves were good, gripped me. That dream was eventually put on the shelf while I pursued other things people my age are supposed to, like getting a college degree. Making surfboards for my friends was my only connection to that dream, and it was few and far between. Whilst talking with Jafar, my mind was flooded with the idea that I need go there and help to develop surfboard shaping. Out of all the countries in the world that needed surfboards, Bangladesh was at the top of the list. I had an opportunity to to do something I had dreamed about and also further Surfing The Nations vision to develop surfing in that country. The dream was the same, but the motives had changed from my own enjoyment, to serving others, which has always ended up being more satisfying.

This past November, a local Bangladeshi named Kamrul and I made our way through the country in search of the raw materials used to make surfboards. We met up with a rad French organization that was developing jute, a local natural fiber, into a cloth that could replace fiberglass. To our surprise, we found all the materials needed for surfboards through the shipyard. Kamrul and all the other surfers were blown away; It was actually possible for them to make their own surfboards! Soon, they would no longer have to wait once a year for a chance to be given a surfboard by Surfing the Nations. They can now make and surf new shapes they never have, or start a surf shop to produce and sell them. The community of surfers can now enjoy the sport and earn a living doing what they love.

Surfing The Nations returns to Bangladesh this April to further the development of surfboard making and to share hope and love with the people. We have a lot of work cut out for us: sustainable and eco-friendly materials need to be adapted, shaping rooms need to be built, surfboard and fin design need to be taught, and the surfers need business training. Surfing The Nations would like to invite you to be a part of this. Whether you are a surfer or not, you can join us and bring stoke to Bangladesh. We are heading out on April 10th-May 3rd. If you can’t come, but would like to help out,we are also looking for donations of surf gear and supplies to take with us. For more info on ways to help out, email go@surfingthenations.com”  -ZT

Zach at work.

 

Kamrul and his board.