This landed in my inbox this morning...
"Dear Sir, Have a nice day !It is Diana from Horizon Surfing Products Factory in China, I contact you for the potential business opportunity for surfing accessories products. Please check the attached of our hot sell products info for your reference, please let me know your product need, then we can offer the best price for you! We can also send samples to you for testing. So please let me know your valuable comments soon , our factory is located in Shenzhen, and we also sincerely invite you to visit our factory if you come to China. Thanks for your time again !"
The mail then went on to offer me leahses (otherwise known as leashes)....of the straight or coiled variety - meaning surfing or bodyboarding. They were doing a big push on all things SUP (so very not good!)
Yip, pretty much everything surf related you buy comes outta China. Even surfboards - although they're the pop-out variety so maybe they don't count? But almost every boardbag, leash, and deckpad come from the People's Republic. Most of your boardies and surf T's as well. We like the fact that they're cheap, and tend to ignore possible human rights infringements associated with their production. Outta sight, outta mind.
With a population of over 1.3 billion peeps, they sure have enough ou's to work those factories. What could prove interesting is the move to flip the coin - not only have the Chinese make all things surfing, but to become surfers themselves. The ASP is starting to actively promote surfing in China, and is hosting contests there. Of course the surf brands think this is a good way to grow market share - another billion surfers to buy your stuff. The hiccup is that those billion are also going to be competing for waves. In future it might not be the Brazilians who hold the "travel in packs, take over the waves" moniker, but the Chinese.
Which of course is terribly myopic from our side, cos someone somewhere along the line introduced surfing to our country, for which we're eternally thankful. But surfing is probably one of the most selfish sports around, period. As much as we love it, we still like to have more waves to ourselves...and the prospect of having to absorb a mass of Chinese surfers into our line-ups is a bit daunting! Might be one of those typical cases of 10 years from now someone goes "maybe this was a kak idea" when JBay has 500 surfers stretched along the point. One plus is that if anyone can come up with a cheap wave pool it'll be the Chinese!
As far as all our surf kit coming from the land of the dragon? Personally I'm all for local is lekker versus mass produced Chinese stuff, but it's hard for our guys to be cost-competitive against the manufacturing power of the east. Still, if you can afford to, pay the extra coin and buy local if you can....and if you can find it.