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The International Surfing Association (ISA) announced today a new Member Federation. Madagascar has become the 86th country to gain full Membership taking the number of ISA Members in Africa to 14 and further driving the expansion of the sport on this important continent.

mg1389 flag2Madagascar joins the ISA as its 86th Member Nation. Photo: John S. Callahan / SurfEXPLORE

A sport imbued with youthful values and energy, Surfing is also a 22 billion dollar business that revolves around the youth demographic and sport lifestyle. With Africa’s extraordinary and expansive coastlines and the ease of access to waves, the ISA has made the expansion of the sport in Africa a major priority in order to grow Surfing and also to help stimulate local economies and assist with social development.

The ISA’s global expansion, with a goal of reaching 100 Members during 2015, is part of an overall strategy to demonstrate the sport’s universality and appeal with the ultimate objective of inclusion in the Olympic Program.

Fort Dauphin Surfers from MadagascarA group of local surfers in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. Photo: Madagascar Yachting, Rowing, Canoeing & Surfing Squadron Federation

Madagascar is perhaps one of the world’s best kept Surfing secrets. Despite being the fourth largest island in the world with a wealth of great surf breaks, it has remained largely untouched by the Surfing community. The ISA’s guidance and sustainable development initiatives in the local community can lead to an increase in job creation, a boost in the tourism industry and the introduction of youth mentoring and community health programs.

  Madagascar-792_AlanvanGysen Madagascar offers over 3,000 miles of undiscovered coastline with the potential of many world-class waves. The country features a variety of waves from rocky points to beach breaks and reef breaks. Photo: @AlanVanGysen

Madagascar offers over 3,000 miles of undiscovered coastline with the potential of many world-class waves. Though there is swell year round, the best time to surf is during the winter months when waves from the Atlantic Ocean wrap around the southern tip of Africa and land on Madagascar’s Indian Ocean beaches. The country features a variety of waves from rocky points to beach breaks and reef breaks.

Twiggy_Madagascar-693_AlanvanGysenSouth Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker Surfing in Madagascar. Photo: @AlanVanGysen

Despite many miles of untapped coastlines, parts of Africa do have a rich Surfing tradition. South Africa has been a Surfing stronghold for many years and in addition to the many National Championships held on a yearly basis, South Africa was the first African nation to host the ISA World Championships with the edition in East London in 1978. The ISA since returned to Durban in 2002 and 2003 for the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship respectively.

In recent years, National Championships have also been held in Liberia, Ghana, Senegal, The Ivory Coast and Sao Tome and Principe amongst other nations.

GregLong_Madagascar-681_AlanvanGysenUSA’s Greg Long enjoying Madagascar’s great waves. @AlanVanGysen

President of the Madagascar Yachting, Rowing, Canoeing, and Surfing Squadron Federation, Brice Jacobson Andrianirina, said:

“Becoming a member of the ISA provides us with a great opportunity to increase participation amongst young people in our country while providing recognized training schools and ISA certified instructors to improve performance levels. Alongside the boost in grassroots activity, this is also an opportunity for us to build a bridge between sport and the economy by increasing tourism levels in Madagascar. Our aim is to build an international Surfing hub that provides a link to the rest of the world.”

Fernando Aguerre, ISA President, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome Madagascar as full member nations of the ISA, and our successful expansion into new markets shows the true universality of Surfing. Our growth must continue as we step up our plans for inclusion in the Olympic Games – during 2015 we aim to have more than 100 Member Federations and by 2020 we want to have 50 million people Surfing worldwide.”

“With the Agenda 2020 debate ongoing and the new, state-of-the art wave technology that is set to revolutionize our sport, we believe that now is the right time to spread our love of Surfing to all corners of the globe, making our sport accessible to everyone regardless of their location or background.”

About the International Surfing Association:

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Para Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Para Surfing Champions in 2015.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.

Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).