The Vanuatu Surfing Association (VSA) kicked off its annual Leimalo Surf Festival with an opening ceremony at Fondation Suzanne Bastien yesterday.

The opening ceremony welcomed international teams from Australia, New Caledonia and Japan as well as teams from the VSA outreach villages of Pele, Nguna, Eratap and Tanna who have converged on Pango village to battle it out on the waves against surfers from Pango and Efalias village.

The Festival celebrates the sport and culture of art and activism that is encouraged through the work of the VSA.

The VSA is privileged to have the support of Law Partners who have been the longest corporate supporter of the VSA since its inception and the Leimalo Surf Festival since the inaugural event 2 years ago. Alongside the platinum sponsorship of Law Partners as the Gold sponsors of the event are Geoffrey Gee & Partners, Pacific Advisory, Pacific Energy, Bank South Pacific (Vanuatu) Limited, Dynamic Supplies, iCount, Meat Market and Pacific Consultancy Ltd. Silver sponsors include Pango Green Force, Azure Pure Water, Vancorp, Digicel, Daily Post, Buzz FM, Breakas Beach Resort & FM107.

The Leimalo Surf Festival this year will form the selection platform for the inaugural Oceania Surfing Championship to be held later in the year at the world class wave -Cloudbreak, Fiji. Vanuatu has held the title of Melanesian surfing champions for four years in a row and are a forde to be reckoned with in the region. They are expected to dominate at the Oceania championship as they have in past international competitions around the region.

“Our surfers natural talent is unrivaled as they live and breathe the ocean through their culture and lifestyle. They come into surfing as a sport already acutely aware and knowledgeable of all the elements that create the perfect wave from the swell to winds and tides. They learn to harness this understanding of the ocean to navigate waves for optimal performance in competitions,” VSA President Stephanie Mahuk said.

The event heats commence on this morning with in incoming tide for the Longboard event which continues later in the afternoon.

The short-board events for U14, U18 and Opens start on Friday running through the weekend to Easter Monday. Easter Monday will also have the Surfability event in partnership with Vanuatu Society for People with a Disability and supported by Law Partners, Save the Children Vanuatu, Wan Smol Bag Rainbow Theatre and the Vanuatu Aquatics Federation.

This event as many argue is the highlight of the Leimalo Surf Festival as surfers share the sensation of catching a wave with keen participants from the Vanuatu Society for People with a Disability.