Happy Layin Down
Evgeny Isakov: surfing in Russia has a great future
We met with Eugene at the SURFEST 2017 festival. On the night of June 4, the athlete flew to Moscow from his native Kaliningrad to attend the annual event, communicate with like-minded people and give a lecture Surfing as a profession: is it possible? We managed to talk with Evgeny about how his sports career began and developed, what are the features of Russian surfing, and find out what prospects await him in the near future.
Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship
- Evgeny, when and how did you start surfing?
- My story is not completely different from the stories of other Russian surfers, but nevertheless I ended up in this sport by accident. The first time I tried to skate in 2006, it happened in Spain. At that time, I was studying in Germany, getting a second higher education and accidentally saw information that a student surfing trip to Spain, to the Atlantic coast, was planned in February. I remember exactly that it was very cold then, and I was not so much interested in surfing as in the opportunity to go to the country I was learning the language and look at the ocean, because at that moment I had never seen it. During the trip, one thing became clear: surfing hooked me and still does not let go.
- How did you reach the international level?
- This process was short-lived. When I started skating, Russian surfing was just beginning to emerge. Its natural development was that at first there were some get-togethers where people trained and had fun. Then they got to the point that it seemed like it would be nice to compete with each other - there were local competitions. After the surfing federation in Russia began its activities, it was decided that it was necessary to hold Russian championships, but at some point this was not enough. We realized that it makes sense to go international. One of these opportunities was participation in the World Championship held by the ISA (International Surfing Association). And now I have been going to these competitions for the second year in a row as part of the national team. And I ended up in the national team because I showed results in Russian competitions, this is quite natural in terms of selection.
- As for surf trips, how many countries you have traveled and which ones you remember most in terms of surfing ?
- I have traveled, on the one hand, a lot of countries. On the other hand, in comparison with those places where I would like to visit, very few. Strange as it may seem, the most memorable travels in Russia. Especially extreme trips, for example, in April: I went to the Barents Sea, to Teriberka, to ride on the Arctic Ocean. I can say that this trip was definitely one of the most memorable in terms of the atmosphere of the trip.
In general, those trips are always remembered where there is an opportunity to ride wellgo. I did it one hundred percent while traveling in Indonesia, the Maldives and Fiji - these are the places where I would like to visit again.
Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship
- How does the atmosphere of surfing in these places differ from that what in Russia?
- In any case, severity prevails in surfing. If we talk about skiing in Russia, due to the weather and climate, this already implies some masculinity. If you say that you have surfed in Russia, to some foreigner, he will answer: Wow, wow! That's what you give, well done! Although I myself am from Kaliningrad, it is warm enough there under current conditions and there is nothing extreme. Nevertheless, if you go to Kamchatka and, moreover, in winter ... well, you understand (smiles) .
The fundamental difference lies in the level of comfort that accompanies your surfing. The surfing infrastructure in the foreign places I have named is developed, and no one will be surprised by the fact that you came, took a board and went for a drive. And when you come to Teriberka and do the same, you involuntarily notice significant looks from the local residents.
In general, to ride in Russia you need, I repeat, courage. And this is always a process of breaking stereotypes: we have an unambiguous approach: surfing is somewhere far away and not true, with tanned guys under palm trees and girls in bikinis. And when you tell that here he is, next to you, for many people it causes not so much shock, but at least surprise. Thanks to the work of the federation and the contribution of specific people who are involved in the popularization of surfing, the surf movement in Russia ceases to be something incredible.
- When you moved from just surfing to creating your own school and surf camps ?
- I have my own school in Kaliningrad. Before that, I have always worked as a surf instructor at other schools. Initially, it was so that most of those who started skating at the same time as I did it abroad. True, there was such a trend - to go somewhere far away, try surfing there, understand that it is great, and fall in love with it. And the last few years the situation has changed: people have paid attention to surfing in Russia. It became not that popular, but quite logical. There is no need to travel far when you also have the right conditions at your side. Worse or better is another question.
It became interesting to me. I thought, why not take part in the development of surfing as a sport or a way of life specifically in the region in which I was born - in Kaliningrad. Therefore, three years ago I opened a school there and annually hold competitions at the level of the Russian championship in order to show Russian athletes that surfing is possible in Kaliningrad. Moreover, it is quite natural and tangible.
Photo: Paulineand Inozemtseva, Championship
- And this school is gaining momentum? Is it in demand?
- Yes, it is interesting. If we talk about being in demand, then let's say this: this is not a necessity. But if people are told that surfing is great and they start looking for where to do it, then, of course, the opportunity to do it at their side is of interest. The problem has always been that few people know about this opportunity in principle. That is, when I talk about surfing in Kaliningrad, firstly, you need to explain what kind of sport it is, and secondly, that there is sea and waves in Kaliningrad. Again, the stereotype must be broken. And as soon as people understand that there is surfing in Russia and specifically, for example, in Kaliningrad, and there is a desire to try, why not do it?
The more everyone will talk about this sport in in principle, about the possibility of doing it, the more interest will appear in society and the more people will come to different schools that exist in Russia (in Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Kamchatka, etc.) and not only.
- Do you think that surfing has great prospects in Russia?
- It depends in what context it is considered. Like a hobby - yes. It is clear that every sandpiper praises his swamp, and I think surfing is amazing and great. When I communicate with someone and talk about my impressions, I always try to convey this atmosphere. In this regard, surfing, as a slightly special sport associated with the elements, with the sea and the ocean, has the opportunity to catch on with just such an unusualness. The potential for interest in Russian surfing is huge.
On the other hand, if we consider surfing as a professional sport, then there may be limitations. Now I must say on behalf of the Russian Surfing Federation that we are trying to develop our potential as much as possible, but there are probably certain boundaries. They are connected with the fact that surfing for our country still seems to be a kind of artificial sport. For example, we are all accustomed to the fact that Russian hockey, figure skating, gymnastics is our sport. In this situation, when parents are thinking about where to give their child to study, such disciplines come to their minds. In order for parents to think of giving their child to professional surfing, it is necessary that generations have changed. Maybe we will get to the point where surfing will be considered at the level of ingrained sports in us. But this needs to be seriously worked on. Also, the natural conditions for such a sport in our country are probably not the most ideal in comparison with other countries located by the ocean.
Photo : Polina Inozemtseva, Championship
- And finally: what is the most attractive thing for you in surfing?
- In fact, in order to understand all the attractiveness, you just have to try. It is difficult to explain it. So with manyand phenomena: they say love and understand each other perfectly, but everyone has their own feeling. The same is with surfing.
In my case, it gives me emotions from the most unpleasant ones: when something doesn't work out, you lose, or there is no opportunity to ride, to the most amazing ones. And such a scale makes it possible to feel life to the fullest. In addition, when surfing, you know perfectly well: no matter what happens in life, there will come a moment when you find yourself in the ocean, catch your wave, and there will be no chances not to understand that you are happy at the moment. I am grateful to surfing for these impressions.