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96 world surfers to ride super Arugam Bay waves this week

Aug 28, 2011 2:57:21 PM - www.ft.lk

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka ’s exotic southeast coastline, is set to welcome 96 top world surfers from 19 countries spanning Argentina , Peru , USA across the globe to New Zealand , to compete in SriLankan Airlines Pro Surfing contest held in association with Australasia ’s Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) from 30th August – 4th September, 2011.   

It is the second consecutive ASP event to be held in Sri Lanka and this year’s contest will witness a world first in the surfing calendar which combines an ASP 6-star Womens’ event attracting 60 top women’s surfers and an ASP Men’s World Longboard Title (WLT). For the first time, there will be more world class women surfers, riding the Arugam Bay waves.
SriLankan Airlines’ Pro returns to Arugam Bay after last year’s successful event which saw consistent, pumping waves running down A-Bay’s famous right-hand point. Other two points famous for high, consistent waves are the Pottuvil Point and Crocodile Rock located on the long beach stretch.
During this contest, Professional Surfers will chase ASP star points and a generous prize pool of US$145,000.
 “SriLankan is happy to welcome the world’s top surfers from 19 countries and to be associated with Australasia’s Association of Surfing Professionals, to bring this world surfing event to the shores of Sri Lanka , once again,” said Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Chairman, SriLankan Airlines.
As tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka top the halfway target this year, Arugam Bay and the East coast is increasingly becoming a popular tourist attraction.  
Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr Nalaka Godahewa said “I am happy to note that Arugam Bay, being one of the best surfing destinations in the world continues to attract world’s top surfers and we are confident that the ASP surfers will find the perfect waves for professional surfing in Arugam Bay and hopeful that the visitors will also explore Sri Lanka and experience its diverse attractions as a leisure destination”.  
SriLankan Airlines’ together with Sri Lanka Tourism has spear-headed many sports promotional events both in Sri Lanka and overseas to generate awareness in new markets and stimulate interest in existing tourist markets. The airline has been playing a key role in promoting niche markets sponsoring international surfing contests of the Japan Pro Surfing Association and the British Pro Surfing Association, building a reputation for having two great surfing locations in Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa.
ASP’s Contest Director, Dane Jordan said, “ASP Australasia is proud to continue our partnership with SriLankan Airlines to hold the 2011 SriLankan Airlines Pro in Arugam Bay.”
 “Arugam Bay is such a great wave for both competitors and spectators. Last year the men (6 star event) scored almost perfect waves every day and now it’s the women and the longboarders’ turn. Sri Lanka is such an exotic destination for surfers and to have a World Title event at Arugam Bay is great for the sport worldwide and for Sri Lanka.”
“With the twin events, Men’s World Longboard Tour and Women’s 6 Star World Tour, the 2011 SriLankan Airlines Pro has attracted the world’s best  men’s longboard champions such as – Duane Desoto – 2010, Bonga Perkins – 2008, Josh Constable – 2006, Phil Rajzman – 2007 and  also expected at Arugam Bay is 2009 world champion, Harley Ingleby.”
 “On the women’s short board side already confirmed are three members of the current women’s top world title race – Alana Blanchard, Courtney Conlogue and Bruna Schmitz. Also confirmed are ASP World Junior champions, Alize Arnaud 2010 and Pauline Ado 2009.”
Local surfers will also have an opportunity to obtain wildcard entry after ASP assisted trials, as Sri Lanka too has naturally talented surfers based in and around Arugam Bay .
Apart from professional surfing, the event is enhanced with beach sports for all ages which includes Kite Flying Competitions, Sand Castle Competitions, Elephant Rides, Beach Volleyball and Beach Rugby. The beachside will come alive with music, entertainment and fireworks in the evenings, for surfers and spectators to unwind and relax.
SriLankan Airlines’ Pro Surf is supported by co-sponsor Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau; Ground Handler, Lanka SportReizen; International Sponsors, Lufthansa Technik and  Swatch; Communications Partner, Etisalat and local sponsor Arugam-Bay Beachwear. Also keenly involved in the contest are the members of the Arugam Bay Surfing Association and enthusiasts who consider this contest as a rewarding experience for the surfing future of Arugam Bay .
The SriLankan Air Taxi will be operating a special schedule to facilitate travel between its docks in Peliyagoda and Arugam Bay for the public wishing to make a quick trip of 65 minutes down to Arugam Bay , avoiding a 7-8 hour long road journey. Flights will be operated to and from Arugam Bay starting 17th August, 2011.

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