Covelong Classic 2023 Experience With Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles

Covelong Classic 2023 Experience With Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles

Covelong Classic 2023 Experience With Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles

Whenever we hear the word surfing, we always imagine surfers riding huge waves gracefully along the coasts of California, Hawaii or Australia, right? Surfers arriving on a beach in their iconic mid-60s VW buses with surfboards loaded on top or on motorcycles with surfboards strapped to the side. They run towards the ocean with their boards in hand, climb onto them, paddle towards the waves and just before the waves are about to hit them, they jump on the boards and ride the big, swirling waves like in those GoPro videos. Sounds amazing but, that has always seemed like a culture worlds away from ours, right?

You see, the surfing scene in India has been growing steadily over the past decade or so. I always thought it was at a very fringe level on our shores and have heard about people learning how to surf in some surf schools in India over the years. So, when I got a chance to visit the 10th edition of Covelong Classic 2023 festival, held between August 12-13, I was very excited to have a chance to get a first-hand experience of this growing culture. And boy, was I wrong about how big surfing as a sport has become in India!

The festival, organised in partnership with Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles and in association with the Surfing Federation of India, was held at Kovalam Beach, Chennai. It was one of the five rounds of India’s professional surfing calendar, with the calendar concluding with the Tamil Nadu International Surf Open (part of the World Surf League calendar) at Mahabalipuram between August 14-20. This is the first time India has hosted an international surfing event, which in itself is a very big indicator of the growing impact of India’s surfing culture. 

But wait, as an automobile journalist, why am I talking about a surfing festival? That’s because the Covelong Classic festival is about more than just surfing. It is also about music, lifestyle and of course, motorcycles. 

Different countercultures have always blended into each other throughout history. That is why, for example, the motorcycle culture has always had its own rich history of music (usually rock and roll), lifestyle and fashion. The same goes for surfing as well. And the blend of all these countercultures was pretty evident at the festival. 

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Various activities happening at the festival included yoga and dance classes. The fitness enthusiasts took a crack at the parkour, gymnastics, silambam and obstacle course racing sessions held over the two days. For the foodies, there were numerous food stalls by local brands offering everything from sandwiches, burgers, delectable meals to artisanal drinks and popsicles to cool off in the hot and humid Chennai weather. Even Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles put up a big stall with their motorcycles, helmets and riding gear in full display. 

And since this was a festival, there was of course music. Various musicians and bands from different genres like hip-hop, funk, rock and roll and heavy metal kept us grooving throughout the festival with headliners, When Chai Met Toast and Avial, finishing off the two days in an electrifying manner. 

The motorcycle culture was also very alive with various bikers turning up at the festival. Sand spraying out of the rear tyres while the bikers were trying to manoeuvre their motorcycles in the sandy parking lot was a great start to the festival when the other auto-journos and I arrived on the first day.

Jawa Yezdi Motorcycles organised a short morning ride for the automotive journalists on August 13th to the Pancha Rathas in Mahabalipuram (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We got to pick from the range of Jawa-Yezdi motorcycles made available to us and my choice was the Yezdi Roadster. The motorcycle’s high-revving 334cc engine and swift handling characteristics made my ride on Tamil Nadu’s East Coast Road a fun one. A morning bike ride with other motorcycle enthusiasts, the perfect way to start the day! 

Later on that day, a surfing class was organised for us. First, the instructors taught us fundamentals of surfing, on the beach, and the process of how to go from placing the board on the water and getting on top of it, to standing on the board, maintaining a certain posture and riding the waves. Everything was well and good till that point because we were doing it on the beach. But, when I went into the water and had to apply what I was taught minutes ago…..let’s just say, I’m happy there are no pictures of me attempting to surf because they wouldn’t have looked good at all! And me not knowing how to swim and having a huge phobia of deep waters just added to the whole thing.

With waves after waves pulling me backwards towards the shore, I could hardly keep my balance while trying to place the board on the water and paddle ahead. Each time I tried, I immediately fell into the water. The whole experience was actually very similar to riding a motorcycle for the first time – barring the constant falling that is. 

Thankfully, there were about five instructors on the water helping us proceed towards the waves with us lying flat on our boards and turning us back towards the shore and giving us a gentle push just before the waves were about to hit us. Then it was up to us to quickly stand up on our boards and try not to fall off while gliding over the water. As you might have guessed, I didn’t fare well in that part either!

But despite that, the surfing class was one of the highlights of the festival for me as I got to experience something for the first time that I had only watched on TV for so long. And also because I got to have a brief first-hand experience of a sport that has developed into a huge culture of its own around the world and has also gotten intertwined with other countercultures as well.  

With India’s independent music scene getting much-needed attention, our lifestyles becoming more global and our already huge biking culture becoming even bigger over the past two decades, it seems only fitting that surfing has now started getting into this eclectic mix. Motorcycles, music and surfing, all three of them share a lot of similarities in terms of passion and community, and it was visible at Covelong Classic 2023. I am glad that I could witness these elements at this festival, even more so because I was able to do it through the world of motorcycling.