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Surf Haiti in Magic Haiti Magazine
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Surf Haiti in Magic Haiti Magazine

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Imagine Haiti as the new surf hub of the Caribbean. Imagine hundreds (maybe thousands) of visitors traveling here each year to surf o! the coast of Jacmel. This may sound like a distant (if not …

Imagine Haiti as the new surf hub of the Caribbean. Imagine hundreds (maybe thousands) of visitors traveling here each year to surf o! the coast of Jacmel. This may sound like a distant (if not impossible) dream, but to the people of the SurfHaiti organization, it is a more than a possibility. In fact, the organization’s self-stated mission is to “improve the spiritual, physical, vocational, academic, and social lives of Haitians by establishing Jacmel as a surf tourism destination.”

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  • 1. Postcard in Motion By Maureen Boyer Photos by Bryce Johnson I magine Haiti as the new surf hub of the Caribbean. Imagine hundreds (maybe thousands) of visitors traveling here each year to surf o the coast of Jac- mel. This may sound like a distant (if not impossible) dream, but to the people of the SurfHaiti organization, it is a more than a possibility. In fact, the organization’s self- stated mission is to “improve the spiritual, physical, vocational, academic, and social lives of Haitians by establishing Jacmel as a surf tourism destination.” “In studying the coastline of Haiti on Google Earth, I could see that Jacmel had great surf potential,” explains Dr. Ken Pierce, Co-Founder and Field Director of SurfHaiti. “My rst day in Jacmel con- rmed it. One of my rst sur ng experi- ences in Haiti was riding ten-foot waves generated by the hurricane that hit Haiti in 2010. It was incredible.” But perhaps what was more in- credible that day was the beach FEBRUARY 2012 MAGIC HAITI 19
  • 2. packed with kids who had come to watch. “They were yell- ing to me and waving,” says Dr. Pierce, who now lives in Jacmel with his wife Diane, a nurse who gram and development projects runs the sister NGO HaitiBaby. and, to surf themselves. “They were calling the waves for Now, about ten to fteen me, and letting me know when kids voluntarily show up each one was coming. When I got day to learn how to surf. They back on shore, all I heard was range in age from about 7 to 20, “Mwen ka fe sa?” (Can I do that?). but most are thirteen or fourteen. Their penchant for surf was evi- Their rst few times, Dr. Pierce dent.” gets in the water with them to as- So the week later, Dr. Pierce, sess their swimming. Then, slowly who learned to surf as a kid in but surely, he pushes them in and Panama, traveled back to Haiti, teaches them how to paddle. And this time with a few more surf- same impact on others.” With guesthouse for volunteers and although they introduced the boards and a desire to use his the help of Co-Founder Alan Pot- surfers from around the world, sport only 18 months ago, many life-long passion as a way to give ter, SurfHaiti was born. Located from France, Australia, Uruguay, of the children have taken to surf- back. “Sur ng changed my life, on the Kabic Beach in Jacmel, a Canada, Hawaii, California, Ohio, ing on a daily basis, and some of it has become my north star,” he small wooden house shaded by Florida, Germany, and Italy, who the older kids are able to teach says. “So I wanted it to have the tall coconut trees serves as the come to help with the surf pro- the younger kids.20 MAGIC HAITI FEBRUARY 2012
  • 3. “We would like to see these they just need a chance,” a rms have capitalized on the develop-kids develop as community lead- Dr. Pierce. Some of the students ment of a “surf culture” that pro-ers with a passion for sur ng and are showing above average tal- vides jobs and a passion for en-for keeping their environment ent for their level of experience. vironmental protection. Sur ngclean” says Dr. Pierce. Already, “They are intuitive about the wa- has a chance to become a bonaMarco, a fourteen-year-old, has ter and hard-working,”he adds.“If de sport in Haiti and it is becom-become the surf crew ‘leader’. they are provided with the prop- ing more possible through theHe distributes the boards, and er resources (better equipment, e orts of Dr. Pierce and SurfHaiti.makes sure the students rotate. more exposure to professional This passion for sur ng is“The kids are quick to get the surfers, more sur ng videos) and contagious enough to spread theboards,” says Dr. Pierce, laughing. are willing to commit to serious sport along the coastlines of Haiti“But slow to bring them back.” training and coaching, they will and the young kids in Jacmel haveThe kids are also shown sur ng de nitely be able to compete at a chance to become pioneers of avideos so they can develop their the junior level in the next two or newly introduced sport.technique and see what is pos- ve years.”sible. “Since I showed them the The surf industry generates For more information, rst video of a professional surf- billions of dollars in sales yearly please visit surfhaiti.orger, their sur ng has gone to the and many developing nationsnext level.” They even organizeda sur ng contest, and the kidswere thrilled. “We will de nitely see Hai-tian surfers on a world tour in thefuture. They are great athletes; FEBRUARY 2012 MAGIC HAITI 21