“Waves are not measured in feet and inches,
they are measured in increments of fear.”
– Buzzy Trent (Pioneer of big wave surfing)
But, the man you will get to know through this write-up, Samai Reboul aka Samai De Kallialay, makes people question how his levels of fear always seem scaling down rather than up as he manoeuvres his way through humongous waves.
It was a momentous triumph for Auroville’s Samai Reboul, when he emerged as the winner in the ‘All India Cargo Open Of Surfing’, the first ever surfing championship hosted in the state of Karnataka and promoted by Karnataka Tourism. Samai walked away with Rs.50,000 of prize money and abundance of admiration of the spectators that gathered in huge numbers.
This is not the first time he has been adorned with prestigious accolades for surfing. Samai and his brother, Juan have been surfing since they were aged nine and ten. However, these boys proved that surfing wasn’t just a childhood passing fancy, when they turned their passion into their profession by forming the Kallialay Surf School (KASS) in 2009.
We were honoured to talk to Mr. Samai De Kallialay after his victorious stint at the All Cargo India Open Of Surfing. It was sheer privilege knowing and talking to a person who loves what he does and promotes what he believes in. Here is an excerpt of our conversation.
1. From what age did you start Surfing?
I was 11 years old when it all started. A year after coming to Auroville was when I was introduced to Surfing. I started at the age of 11.
2. How did you get introduced to this sport?
The local pioneers here in Auroville, Tamil Nadu introduced me to the sport and that is when it all started.
3. What made you convert your passion into your profession?
Kallialay had many different shapes. My brother Juan and I started forming our own surf club back in 1996. For a few years we were located on a different beach than where we are now, but due to a few factors, we moved our surf school a few hundred meters down the beach, where we are currently located.
When I went back to Europe for work, in the South-West of France, I had the chance to surf different waves, see how surf schools functioned on a day-to-day basis. I also met other enthusiastic surfers who challenged me and taught me a lot of what I know today. Juan did a full season in our friend’s surf school in south-west France back in 2005 where he learnt a lot about teaching surfing. Juan decided to start the Offshore Surf School, in 2006. In 2009, my brother met up with me in France, where we decided to get seriously into the surfing industry in India.
4. How did you come up with the idea of Kallialay Surf School?
We actually came up with the name “Kallialay” while brainstorming in a train station in the north of France. “Kallu” means stone while “Allay” means “wave”, in Tamil.
5. What do you have to say about the Surfing scene in India?
It is constantly growing, it has been exploding since the past 5 years and it’s amazing to be part of it. The surfing culture in India and worldwide is one of ‘live and let live’. Do your own thing, constantly progress, and push your own limits. We have to be self-sufficient and make sure that we stay true to surfing, rather than it becoming taken over by the mainstream business and firms.
Otherwise, all the pioneers of India will get washed away by the big companies, and we have to be ready before it blows up, and that is what we are working on really hard. All the large companies are going to see a lucrative market and as a result, the surfing scene will become more business oriented, and less true to itself.
6. What does a normal day look like for you?
Wake up, go to the Shaping Bay (where we produce INDI Surf Boards) get some work done there, and go down to the beach according to the timings of the Surf lessons. Then back to the Shaping Bay when I have free time.
7. Other than Surfing what are your other hobbies?
My hobbies are what I do. And skating.
8. Recently you won the All Cargo Indian Open of Surfing, how does it feel to be the first winner of the competition?
This wasn’t the first competition in India, but I originally went up there to get judging experience, and winning the competition was an awesome extra.
9. How did you prepare for the Championship?
Didn’t have time to prepare, I was mostly working on my judging skills. Having said that, I surf whenever I get the chance.
10. If someone wants to pursue surfing what is the best way to start?
People who start out surfing should begin in easy sea conditions and learn how to be comfortable in the water. Investing in a few surf lessons is a must- there are some basic precautionary measures that can be lifesaving, for example, knowing where the rip currents are located, how to avoid them, learning about where the waves break, and where the impact zone is.
Furthermore, surf instructors will show you the correct pop up and paddling techniques, so as to ride waves effectively. Your surf instructor will equip you with the adequate knowledge to get up on the board riding a wave after a two hour session. So my advice is, get surf lessons at Kallialay Surf School. Once you are comfortable you can invest in a surfboard from INDI Surfboards.
11. Any training tips you can give to Surfers?
There are two kinds of surf sessions, one where you go to have fun and one where you go to work on your surfing. They are very different.
12. Any tips you can give for the beginners?
Keep practising as much as possible, and make sure you get good instructors.
13. Any life lessons learnt from Surfing?
For the past 7 years, my life has only been about surfing, whether it’s giving lessons, surfing, making boards, or organising/ judging surfing competitions. Work hard to achieve anything, and nothing is for free.
14. Any fond memory that you want to share with us?
Every time I surf a board I made in good ocean conditions, it becomes a fond memory.
15. Any interesting experience during your surfing activity which you want to share with us?
Seeing how like-minded people can get along from thousand different places all over the world when it comes to surfing. It’s a small world.
It indeed is a small quaint world, especially in the province of adventure sports seeing fitness junkies coming from all parts of the world to try new things. Adrenaline is the common language they all speak. And even if they don’t, we have proficient people like Samai and his brother Juan to coach them.
If you are one of those who keep trying to better themselves in any kind of sport, not confined to just surfing, we have a message for you
“Keep training, keep failing, keep moving, eventually,
You’ll get it right”
We leave you with a fantastic video of Samai De Kallialay and his brother Juan of the Kallialay Surf School . Do share your thoughts about this interview.