Ramesh Budhial, a 22-year-old surfer from Kovalam and coach at Shaka Surf Club Kodi Bengre in Udupi, has set his sights on the World Surfing League and dreams of qualifying for the Olympics.
Budihal was introduced to surfing at the age of 5 and was trained by Jelle Rigole of Bruges, Belgium, surfer and mentor. Although he is originally from Karnataka, his parents run a seaside shop selling handicrafts and clothes in Kovalam. “With better training and international exposure, I want to compete at the highest level,” Ramesh told DH.
“I saw my friend Krishna surfing at Kovalam beach and I was attracted to her. Krishna, witnessing my keen interest in the sport of surfing, introduced me to his guru Jelle Rigole, who introduced me trained for many years,” he said. Ramesh said that initially his parents were not supportive as they wanted me to focus on studies.
“When I started winning prizes at various events, they started supporting me,” he recalls with a smile. “Surfing is my life and I can’t think of anything outside of water,” Budihal stressed and added that he doesn’t want to continue what his parents were doing for a living. “I wanted something different and surfing became part of my life,” he revealed.
When he started surfing, he never thought he would scale such great heights in surfing, he confessed. Today, Budihal can handle most difficult maneuvers with ease and ranks sixth in Asia. It was Sebastian Indian Social Projects (SISP), an NGO, which enrolled Budihal in his school.
Apart from academics, the school also focuses on teaching surfing and skateboarding. “When I started surfing, I had no idea of the benefits of this sport. I just started surfing out of pure love,” he pointed out. Today, he has established himself as one of the best surfers in the country.
“I shuttle between Shaka Surf Club in Udupi and Kovalam Surf Club depending on the season. I hope to put India on the world map by winning international competitions,” he added.