Have you heard about Balok? It is a name associated with excitement, big waves and madness. A group of windsurfers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia tried surfing in Balok during the monsoon season in the 1980s and got hooked. They returned every year and only during the monsoon season when the winds can reach speeds of between eight knots and twenty knots per hour. The locals in Balok called the surfers mad young men for most tourists avoid the east coast of Malaysia during the monsoon season when torrential rains, storms and floods are typical. Well, extreme sports enthusiasts go forth where others turn back from fear or self-doubt. The surfers call their annual pilgrimage the Monsoon Madness Windsurfing Challenge. It has become an international not-to-be-missed event for surfing enthusiasts worldwide.

Sixty participants from thirteen countries took part in the competition from Jan 18 to 20 2007. Competitors can choose from three formats: high speed downwind, slalommasterblast high speed, and Foster’s Killer-Loop. In the Loop, surfers have to hit the biggest wave at maximum speed, leaping between six metres and ten metres into the air, and then execute a mind-blowing 360-degree forward loop! Jesper Orth from Denmark was the champion in the Open category, while Pawel Hlavaty from Poland and Dan Ellis from England won second and third places, respectively. The Master category was won by Japanese Masato Ogawa, followed by Malaysian Yeap Leong Soon and Yasuyuki Onoguchi in second and third. In the Women’s category, Yuni Trisnowati from Indonesia was champs, trailed by Rachel Charis Ng from Singapore. In the kitesurfing event, two Thais, Narapichit Pudla and Phaetratsu Phanuwat, grabbed first and second placing while Singaporean Aaron Yang came in third.

Seeing human frailty and skills pitted against ferocious mother nature is surely a sight to behold. Mark Balok in your calendar if you are a windsurfing enthusiast or fan!