Surfing Senegal: Dakar rides world league wave for first time

Dakar (AFP) –


Senegal on Thursday became the first west African nation to stage a qualifying round of the world surfing championships with organisers praising the country for "ticking all the right boxes".

In previous years, the professional World Surf League (WSL) has held events in South Africa and Morocco but never in the west of the continent.

"It's a matter of just looking at various aspects, you know, the security in the country, as well as the quality of the waves. Senegal just absolutely ticked off all the boxes when it comes to running an event," said Colin Fitch, an official for World Surf League Africa.

However, it hasn't all been plain sailing. On Wednesday, races were cancelled as weather conditions flattened out the waves, leaving competitors to kick their heels on the beaches until Thursday.

There are 65 surfers taking part in the event at Ngor, a beach in Dakar, from 15 countries, including 26 women.

"It was complicated (to convince the WSL to organize the event in Senegal)," Oumar Seye, the vice-president of the Senegalese surfing federation told AFP.

"It's been 10 years that we have organised our local championships and this year the World Surf League has trusted us."

French surfer Ian Fontaine said he had enjoyed his first taste of competing in the country.

"I knew there were really good waves in Senegal, it's an African destination that's known for that, and when I saw there was a qualifying competition, I immediately signed up," he said.