Surfing is still new to Taiwan, an island of 23 million off the east coast of China. Fewer than 100 people make a living out of surfing.
A high rate of drowning deaths has helped create nationwide trepidation but analysts say the aversion to water has cultural and political roots going back to the island’s tempestuous relationship with China.
Jonathan Spangler, from the Asia-Pacific Policy Research Association in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei says: “In the education system here it’s taught that swimming in the ocean is dangerous, don’t go swimming.”
Dr Francis Hu, head of political science at Tunghai university, Taichung, explains that for decades, post-second world war Taiwan had also restricted access to the coastline for security reasons.