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Forget Fiberglass, This Surfing Champion Rides Reeds

An ancient Peruvian tradition of building and paddling reed boats is kept alive by a small group of fishermen, including Juninho Urcia, a champion surfer in his 20s.

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by Julio Mora and Meigan Henry

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Fishermen along the northern coast of Peru have relied on narrow, hand-built reed boats called caballitos de totora, or little reed horses, for thousands of years. Like surfboards, the boats are easily propelled into shore as the sea surges; riding them is one of the earliest-known methods for humans to catch a wave. The tradition of building and paddling the reed boats is kept alive by a small group of people, including Juninho Urcia, a champion surfer in his 20s. Yet the future of the little reed horses appears precarious—as development spreads along the shore, the totora reeds suffer.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Julio Mora , Meigan Henry “Forget Fiberglass, This Surfing Champion Rides Reeds,” Hakai Magazine, Dec 13, 2016, accessed June 18th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/forget-fiberglass-surfing-champion-rides-reeds/.


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