From Japan to Australia it's a family affair
Merewether, Newcastle NSW
3 - 24 February 2013
Japanese contingent chase the dream at Surfest, Newcastle Australia
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 February, 2013 : - - Former professional surfer Tomi Awada and her husband Kazu are chaperoning five young Japanese boardriders along the Australian east coast while the youngsters chase their dreams of becoming professional surfers.
The seven keen surfers have driven from Tweed Heads to Newcastle so the youngsters can compete in the two-star Burton Toyota Pro Junior and the Sanbah Cadet Cup. The Burton Toyota Pro Junior is the only Association of Surfing Professionals Australasia Pro Junior event scheduled for Australia in 2013.
Mrs Awada, 52, was something of a trailblazer in the early days of pro surfing. She first came to Australia as a professional surfer to compete in the Stubbies competition at Burleigh Heads in the early 1980s. Husband Kazu, 56, was a regular competitor on the Japan Professional Surfing Association circuit back around the same period.
"It was a lot different then to now being an aspiring professional surfer. There was not many female surfers from Japan. These days we eat very well, stay at comfortable places and have many Australian friends, whereas back then it was all so new," Mrs Awada said.
She and her husband own a surf shop at Heisaura in Chiba - about 100 kilometres south of Tokyo - and will be in Australia for about seven weeks. "We will be in Newcastle for about 10 days and are staying at serviced apartments. With the exchange rate it is a bit expensive now but everyone is paying a little and it's okay," she said.
Mrs Awada estimated the group would spend upward of $7000 while in New South Wales. Among her chargers is 19-year-old Minato Takahashi, the number-two ranked junior surfer in Japan. Ms Takahashi finished 9th in the World Junior Championships in Bali in 2012 and is enjoying Australian conditions.
"I hope to get a good finish here in Newcastle. My next competition is in Bali in April but before then we are going to surf our way along the northern New South Wales coast," Ms Takahashi said.
The Awada's oldest son, 17-year-old Kai, entered the Burton Toyota Pro Junior in the round of 96, and has been attending an English school in Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and is a "sometimes" member of Kawana boardriders. Younger son Nalu, 13, will be surfing in the Sanbah Cup. Nalu came fourth in the Japanese Grom Comp in 2011.
Twins Kaito and Kairi Takamatsu, 17, who heil from Shonan, with Kaito having ridden waves in both Hawaii and Bali - but this is first time in competition in Australia. Brother Kairi came second in the Nippon Surfing Association Junior Titles in 2012.
"Even if the surfers don't win, this is really good experience for their surfing development and also meeting and mixing with other people from other places is good for their education, " Mrs Awada said. "I came to Surfest last year and it feels like everybody works well together and the setup is professional.
"The hospitality is good and everyone is friendly and in the city everyone asks us where we are from and we try and have conversations about surfing."
Mrs Awada siad she was taking back ideas to Japan to try and emulate the "feel" of the surfing competition at Surfest. "We are working with the City Council in Tateyama to try and get a surfing competition at Heisaura in September. Our goal is modelled on what happens here at Newcastle. It is very professional. We see it as a way of boosting the local economy and getting people to come to the area," Mrs Awada said.
Author: Paul Scott
Tags: Burton Toyota Pro, Newcastle Surfest, ASP Star Events