Yukari Yachi, who is of both Japanese and Chinese descent, had a burning desire for independence and an unconstrained life that led her to move from her family home to Shanghai at the impossibly young age of thirteen. At first she spent her time modelling, until later she found the fulfilment she yearned for in her preadolescence through the water sport that changed her life forever.
Her first introduction to surfing happened just a year ago on a chance trip to Sanya or the ‘Hawaii of China’ as it is often referred to, found on the Hainan Island in Southeast China - a place well known for it’s impressive islands and beaches where numerous water sports take place. Through the guidance of a friend, Yukari practiced catching waves and it was without a second thought that she moved to the city where the the surfer’s way of life could be embraced with just the sea, sun and surfboard needed and luckily enough for Yukari, three abundant features in the city of Sanya.
1. In the beginning, it took a while to get used to the speed of the waves so I couldn't stand stably on the wave wall until I developed the confidence through practice. Even a small wave is fast and intense so I think I must have screamed the first time. The surfing lifestyle is something I have always been interested in since childhood but I didn't have the chance to encounter the sport earlier until I finally did one year ago and now I have no plan to ever give it up! Since it's only been a year since I started surfing, I still feel very much like a baby amongst the senior surfers.
2. I vividly remember a beautiful sunset similar to this that once appeared after I surfed - it truly felt like a gift from nature. I love the unprecedented closeness with nature surfing brings, it's when I feel the most cosy and happy. No matter how many worries I have, as soon as I begin, my mind is clear.
3. These are some of the surfers I met in Shonan Japan against the blue sky, iridescent clouds, and colourful surfboards. Everything is so perfectly matched. The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is moving from the city to the village I now live in, but I guess you have to give up something to gain something. There are so many more female surfers out here than male, which I feel is because the girls are more willing to try new things.
4. Once I started getting used to the wave walls, I even tried walking on the board while surfing sometimes. I feel that surfing makes my life easier and healthier, it allows me to be the most natural me. After picking up this hobby, I’ve noticed that I seldom wear makeup and I don’t spend an hour or so to dress up; instead, bikini, flip flops, and sun cream is all I need and I’m ready to go. There are still a lot of surfing places for me to discover but among the spots that I often go to, I prefer the Haitang Bay in Sanya. Shonan in Japan also has a great surfing environment!
5. This is my custom-made classic Malibu surfboard which is designed in my favourite color blue and has my name on it. The quality of surfing in China fairs really well compared to other countries, but there are noticeably less surfers in China because surfing is still a newly emerging sport but the atmosphere is still lively though. My advice for anyone who may want to start surfing is to be rest assured that the joy you get from it is a hundred times more powerful than the fear you may initially have. And embrace the tan you’ll get - tans are sexy!