Praneeth Sadaruwan wins Red Bull local hero surfing contest

Saturday, 12 October 2013 00:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Praneeth Sadaruwan has won Red Bull Local Hero, Sri Lanka. The 22-year-old out-surfed 30 of the country’s top wave riders to take the crown, but it took more than his just his surfing skills. “We were looking at personality and how he would be able to drive the surf industry in Sri Lanka, as well” said local surf pioneer and multiple national champion Asanka, who choose not to compete as he wanted to give the next generation a chance. “Obviously he has to be a good surfer,” commented world-renowned professional surfer from Peru, Gabriel Villaran, who travelled to Sri Lanka to judge the contest. “On the other side we also tried to find a guy who communicates well with other people and who will be willing to work with the media and photographers.” Praneeth, a regular-footer (surfs with his left foot forward) who hails from Arugam Bay excelled in all the necessary requirements and will now travel with Gabriel and the Red Bull crew to the Maldives (the first time Praneeth will board an airplane) to participate in the Red Bull Local Heroes tour there. It wasn’t just a holiday at the beach to get there though. “I was really happy to have been won,” said an ecstatic Praneeth afterward. “I really didn’t expect it and I’m so happy,” he said. “It was great to have Gabriel in Sri Lanka, he is so friendly and we learned a lot from him - not just in the water.” Best of the Best The selection process was rigorous, with all the best surfers in the running. Arugam Bay Surf Club provided the details of the Arugam Bay Surf Classic for the last two years from which a top 30 was selected. From there eight surfers were chosen for an exclusive coaching workshop with Gabriel at Aragum Bay before taking to the water to compete for the title. “Wave selection, variety in maneuvers and how they approach the wave,” said Gabriel, highlighting the important points he focussed on during his coaching sessions. Gabriel was surprised and well impressed with the standard of surfing in Sri Lanka and believes Praneeth will be a great ambassador for the sport. Asanka agrees and hopes the necessary exposure will lift surfing’s stature in the country. The surfing industry in Sri Lanka has never seen much focus, with coverage usually going to the more mainstream sports. However, being blessed with so much good surf spots (including famous pointbreaks like Arugam Bay and Potuvill Point) and talent-development through projects like Red Bull Local Hero, and the input of international stars like Gabriel, this is bound to change.