The Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) champion is living proof that following your bliss rewards you 10 times over.
The 2017 edition of the International Surfing Association (ISA) World SUP and Paddleboard Championship (WSUPPC) drew a record-breaking participation from 286 athletes across 42 nations. In the reputed competition’s sixth year (2018), scheduled between 23 Nov-2 Dec at Riyue Bay, China, India is set to make its debut. The face of this one-man contingent is 28-year-old Sekar Pachai. Originally from a fishing community in Kovalam, Tamil Nadu, Sekar took to the waves after watching fellow-fisherman-turned-surfer Murthy Megavand in action. He trained with Murthy for a month, sharing a surfboard with two other boys from the village. Hooked by the sport he continued to practise, until eventually teaching himself SUP surfing. LBO’s Anam Khan chats with Sekar about passion, perseverance and the world of stand-up paddle boarding.
Congratulations on your recent win at the Fool Moon SUP Classic, Switzerland. Tell us about your experience there.
I met a lot of people with the same interest and learnt a lot of things. I met four to five different people every day. Being surrounded by professional surfers, from across the world, [who] had the same interests was an amazing experience.
Why did you start surfing?
I was a fisherman earlier in Kovalam, Tamil Nadu. Fishing is definitely not an easy task, but I always got my peace in the ocean. The rage of the waves excited me to try surfing.
What has been the proudest moment of your surfing career thus far?
The overall experience of travelling to various destinations, meeting different people and participating in international tournaments.
What inspires you when you feel low?
Surfing always keeps you high. All my problems find peace in the ocean. Surfing clears all the negative vibes around me. It is like meditation. A good routine of surfing and yoga keeps me motivated.
As a competitive surfer, do you have to maintain a special diet?
Surfers don’t really maintain a diet. We eat everything, anytime. However, when we prepare for tournaments, we need to eat at certain time intervals to keep fit and hydrated. My breakfast mainly includes fruits and eggs; the next set includes a dosa, idlis or an omelette.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Challenges are the interesting waves of life; you only rise high when you overcome them. After being recognised in the surfing field, I had to travel across the world which kept me away from my family and friends. The Indian mindset still doesn’t view [competitive] surfing as a career, which was a major challenge to overcome.
What is that one thing that has motivated you to keep chasing your dreams?
My ultimate goal is the World Championship [2018 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship, China]. I don’t ever look down, my mantra is to keep climbing – oops, surfing – the ladder of success.
Any advice for budding surfers?
When I started my surfing career, I trained for a month and kept practising. During nine years of surfing, I have kept learning new things. I train a team of 20 professional surfers at Covelong Point Social Surf School. I love to see the enthusiasm that lies in these young buds [who have] a lot of potential to rise high. Persistence, hard work and passion leads to success.
What’s next for Sekar Pachai?
I am preparing for the World Championship 2018 in China. I am the only surfer representing India in the World Championship, so that puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. It is my main aim right now.