With a Pacific coastline that stretches for more than 2,500 miles (over 4,000 kilometers), much of it resembling the state of California and Mexico’s Baja California, Chile makes an ideal destination for surfers. From the desert coast of the Norte Grande, where the cities of Arica and Iquique make the best bases, to the headlands of the Chilean heartland, north of Viña del Mar, there are almost endless options for surfers. Because the community of Chilean surfers is relatively small, the competition for waves is not what it would be in, say, Southern California.
That could change, though, if mayor Roberto Córdoba of Pichilemu - Chile’s almost undisputed surfing capital west of the Colchagua valley wine district about three hours southwest of Santiago - has his way. Pichilemu (whose Punta de Lobos point break appears here) is already home to the Campeonato Nacional de Surf, the national surfing championships, but according to the Santiago Times, the mayor plans to introduce surfing as an elective course in four of the town’s poorest performing schools.
The idea, says Córdoba, is to encourage an activity that has economic potential - there are several surf schools and rental equipment in town - and also to provide a recreational outlet for disadvantaged kids who are otherwise bored and, sometimes, in trouble. That many of these kids could become professional, as the mayor seemed to imply, is doubtful, especially as the cost of equipment, training, and travel is well beyond the means of most of them. Still, the idea of making them participants, rather than just observers, seems worth the effort.