Ukrainian national surfing team at ISA tournament with Olympic hopefuls


Anastasiia Temirbek faced 10ft walls of whitewater as she paddled alongside the pier during the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games in Huntington Beach, Calif., this week.

The ocean had decided to pulsate just as Temirbek’s heat set in, sending a steady succession of solid waves into alignment and leaving surfers struggling to “come back” to calmer water.

But at least there were no mines.

And the water was a balmy 71 degrees – warm enough for a bikini rather than a thick, bulky wetsuit. There were no rockets flying overhead. There was no ice floating in the queue, and bright sunshine was falling on the golden sands of a perfect, cloudless sky.

Temirbek is one of six members of Ukraine’s national surfing team who traveled to California against all odds to take part in the country’s second outing at the 2022 annual ISA World Surfing Games.

The young Ukrainian surfing community has developed on the beaches of the Black Sea in Odessa. Although the waves are small and often freezing, the joy of surfing is real.

But the war raging in Ukraine has made the Black Sea a no-go zone for surfers.

The president of the Ukrainian Surfing Federation, Vasyl Kordysh – and several other top surfers in the country – are stuck in Odessa and, due to wartime travel restrictions, are not allowed to leave the country to surf during the annual competition.

“I really wanted to be there with them right now,” Kordysh told USA TODAY in an interview from Odessa. “But with our circumstances, it’s not the best time right now.”

Julia Kulish of Team Ukraine catches a wave Tuesday at the 2022 ISA World Surfing Games.

Mines on the program

A few months ago, Kordysh moved closer to the ocean.

Now, he says, he can don his wetsuit at home and hike the few blocks to Arcadia Beach, his local surf spot — a big plus when it’s snowing outside.

Vasyl Kordysh surfs in Odessa, Ukraine, where the water temperature often requires not only a wetsuit, but also booties and a balaclava.

Kordysh made the trip out of love for his sport. But it turns out that changing apartments also saved his life. A few weeks after he left, a rocket hit his old building, destroying it.

“It was really, really hard to go in there and check out what it looks like,” Kordysh said. “It’s like a building with a hole. You can see through the building.

Smoke rises in the air after a bombardment in Odessa, Ukraine, Saturday July 16, 2022.

Kordysh and Ukrainian surfers competing in California have acknowledged that conditions in Odessa are less than ideal for developing skills on the international surf circuit. The Black Sea only serves as waves when there is a lot of wind, producing smaller, more muscular waves called wind swells. It’s more like surfing the North Shore of Lake Superior (which actually happens) than the famous North Shore of Hawaii.


USA Today

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