Greetings From China Part 2

Teaching {{{Jimmy}}} Fong

We go for our first surf in China at a crazy, near-deserted beach, where cracked speakers play Chinese pop songs, and five lifeguards in orange shirts and blue shorts wander through the marram grass dunes, looking for something to do to pass the time till they're laid off for the year in October.

Jimmy Fong sits on a towel tapping at his mobile phone.

"You know we're going to teach you how to surf today," I tell him.

"Yes, yes, I'll do it," he says. "OK! I will try!"

Jimmy is our guide on this completely unique excursion along this unsurfed coast. "Jimmy" is his ID for foreigners; Fong is his true name, followed by another name that means "top of a mountain". Jimmy is a Shanghai native, slim with an unlined face, glasses, and an odd posture - his head and neck tip forwards from his shoulders, and his head turns slightly to one side. He's been in the ocean once before in his whole 27-year-long life.

I've brought a board to China especially for the purpose of instruction. It's a beautiful little six-foot single fin hand-made by Stu Kenson from San Diego - a homage to Michael Peterson's Kirra boards of 1971. I've got that and a 6'1" Firewire: two ends of the surfboard spectrum.

A wind's begun to whip up the early signs of a nice little swell, and Pat and Ola go out and smack a few weeny lips. Out of nowhere a crowd begins to gather.

It's time for Jimmy to surf. He strips down carefully to a pair of rather interesting Chinese swim trunks. I show him how to carry the board, square with the fin in and back. "Yes," he says, and holds it that way ever after through our trip. A quick learner.

We wade out through the chest high windswell slop. Jimmy holds the Kenson MP model like a club. A one-foot wave pushes him back a few steps. I get him to lie down on the board, like we'd practised back on land. He curls his legs around it like a frog and hangs on tight. I've never seen a learner so stiff, so rigid. "Hang on!" I yell, and push him onto one. The little foam pushes him and he goes 20 yards. He's still hanging on by the time I get to him. I almost have to prise his hands off the rails, but he's grinning.

One of the lifeguards comes out, eager to show us he's a bit of a waterman. I help him catch a wave on the Kenson, give him the Firewire to paddle round on, and concentrate on getting Jimmy waves. He slowly begins to relax; the frog-like grip on the board is gone. Patrick gets hold of him and I stand in closer to shore and watch as Pat shoves Jimmy into a two-footer. It's amazing! Jimmy shuts his eyes tight like you do when you first get a barrel, stretches his arms out like a diver, and hurtles toward shore.

By now half the beach crowd is in the water. Six or seven of 'em get hold of the Firewire before I finally repossess it. It's a riot!

Stay tuned for more from Nick Carroll and crew in China in a future issue of SURFING MAGAZINE

CLICK HERE for Nick Carroll’s report #1 from China.CLICK HERE for Nick Carroll’s report #3 from China.