"Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism."
Three days ago, it was reported, here, that an Italian historian had made the stunning discovery that surfing began in China “thousands of years before Polynesia.”
Wrote Chas Smith,
Nicolla “Nik” Zanella stumbled on his discovery in 2006 while visiting a Buddhist temple in Kunming in the southern Yunnan province. There he saw a 19th century bas-relief depicting a group of arhats, or those who have reached Nirvana, out amongst the waves.
One, in particular, stood out.
“The guy was standing up, his pose was exactly what we teach – back foot flat, front foot at a 45-degree angle, looking 5m in front of the board. And his face – he looked stoked,” Zanella told the South China Morning Post.
It was so captivating that he climbed down 5000 years of Chinese literature, finding Song Dynasty poet Zhou Mi’s work on the way. Zanella translates, “Hundreds of brave watermen … with unfastened hair and tattoos, holding coloured flags, race to the water … they paddle towards the oncoming waves … then they leap up and perform a hundred manoeuvres without getting the tail of their flags even slightly wet. This is how they show off their skill. Hence the nobles reward them with silver prizes.”
In a lengthy email to BeachGrit, received today, Zanella has eviscerated Chas Smith, the celebrated and much loved author of best-selling books Welcome to Paradise Now Go To Hell, Cocaine and Surfing, a Sordid History of Surfing’s Greatest Love Affair and Reports From Hell.
Who did it first was not the scope of my research, but this time frame is almost simultaneous with what was happening in Polynesia. Affirming that I declared that surfing happened in China ‘Thousands of years before Polynesia’ is blatantly false and casts a bad light on my professionalism.
I hope you have the decency of erasing that article and learn to investigate what you publish in the future, what you stated was not in the SCMP article, nor in my book, nor in any interview that I ever gave to the many media, all more professional than BeachGrit, that covered my book and research. A simple google search would have clarified it.
As an avid surfer myself and a former surf editor I understand your need for click-bait titles in a starved out surf media environment.
But this time you passed the mark and put false words in my mouth.
I ask you to erase the article. I’m willing to send you a copy of my book so that you can read it and understand the scope and direction of my research.
The author of the story is yet to respond to the claims.