ASB MAGAZINE: Last month it was revealed that current WSL #22 Bede Durbidge would retire at the seasons end competition at Pipeline in December. This week it was announced that Australia’s ‘original’ professional world IPS champion Peter ‘PT’ Townend has officially been appointed the National Coach of the Chinese National Surfing Team. The news broke international headlines when a feature appeared in the LA Times. PT says coaching the Chinese team for Olympic aspirations is ‘a big challenge’ and he’s currently in China after a month long this stint working with the National Team. ASBMAG approached PT about his new role
“Well, I’m the first appointed National Coach of the Chinese National Surfing Team with Olympic aspirations as directed by the Beijing government’s Central Sports Agency and its Watersports Bureau division.
According to PT the position opened up through his exposure in China over the past five years as the Event Director of the Silver Dragon “river bore” event on the Qiantang River in the city of Hangzhou.
“I had to go through an interview process after surfing was announced in September 2016 to be in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” said PT
Commenting on the general surf conditions PT says there is plenty of surf for training, conditions not unlike they may encounter at Tokyo in 2020.
“Well on Hainan Island where the National Team training is based, there’s lots of breaks around the island, many yet to be discovered and uncrowded, reefs, points, river mouths and beach breaks, just need swells and at this time of year(winter) which is typhoon season there’s a reasonable number of swells producing quality waves in the 3 to 6’ range. Summertime tends to be pretty flat though.”
“But, the water is always tropical.”
The Chinese National Team is a full-time occupation for Townend as well as seven men and five women, but there also a development squad.
“The main team are housed on the island and are receiving a government stipend and train full time with travel trips just like the recent one to California and we will be coming to Australia in Jan-Feb,” said PT.
Asked whether the Chinese Team could one day threaten teams like Australia or the USA, PT’s response was blunt in his assessment
“That will take quite a long time, realize this is the first generation of Chinese surfers, Chinese surfers have yet to be surfing for a decade unlike Australia and America which have 100 year histories in surfing.”
“It’s pretty exciting to be on the ground floor of helping to develop surfing in a country with the global impact of China, it’s keeping me young!” enthused PT.
PHOTO GETTY images LA-TIMES