Posted by: cedarsurf | May 20, 2010

Surfing in Afghanistan


Location:                   Kabul Province, Kabul City, District 2, Murad Khani
Incident type:            Late Spring Tide
Date/Time:               21 May 2010, morning
Report Source:          NGO
Information:              Every seven years a combination of events leads to a surge in the Kabul River producing a well of water, which some of Afghanistan’s more intrepid surfers take advantage of. Late spring snowfalls (which Panjshir has experienced), rapidly melting snow and the lunar cycle all converge to create a once in every seven year opportunity. The 21 May, when the moon is exactly between the new and full moons, is the scheduled date when a surge of water is sent into the Kabul River from the Ghorband and Panjshir river networks. The natural occurring cycle peaks in the narrow water ways in Kabul City. In April 2003, at least 20 Afghan surfers braved the temperatures and the debris to gather in Murad Khani where the swell evolves into a wave suitable for surfing  (colloquially known as ‘Jazira Kalan’ in Dari or Long Reef in English). In the past some surfers have been able to ride the wave for several hundred metres inspiring delight from the crowds along the riverbank. This year’s event is expecting several hundred spectators as well as approximately two dozen participants or surfers. The spring tide does not present any risk for spectators except those on the edge of the riverbank who may be over zealously supporting the men in the water. Although the local carpenters do a brisk trade prior to the event, the use of wooden surfboards is usually the sole cause of any resultant casualties amongst the surfers. A panel of judges, accurately reflecting the social and political dynamics of the area, awards points for both style and longevity. Mukhtar Hussein (Kabul) was the winner of the 2003 contest followed by Farid Parwani (Kabul).
Assessment:              The event marks the unity of purpose of the Afghan government and the international community. The event, although originally a rather haphazard sort of affair, originally involving the use of slim river boats, is now endorsed by the Kabul Government. NGOs have undertaken capacity building exercises for aspiring young surfers; IOs are advising on the makeup of the judging panel; IMF is keeping an eye on the event from their balloon in the sky and foreign embassies, although unable to be present, have provided the important funding.
Advisory:                   Due to the size and power of the waves, Big Island Style Guns (a type of surfboard) are recommended as the face is expected to reach 8ft (almost three metres).

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