PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 12:00am


The 37-year-old former professional surfer from Shonan, Japan, this month became the first champion of a surf contest to be held in mainland China when he won the inaugural 720 China Surf Open in Hong Hoi Wan, Guangdong.

How did it feel to win the competition?

It was unbelievable. I enjoyed the competition very much, we had good waves and it was very professionally run - as good as the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals, who run the world tour). I am very happy to be the first champion in China and I want to teach everyone in China to surf.

How did you find out about the event?

The organisers invited me to attend. My friends back in Japan were too afraid to come to China to surf, but we had no problems at all.

What other events have you won?

I have won many local competitions in Japan. I only started surfing in 1982 when I was 16. I turned professional in 1986. My best result was third place in a world tour event.

What is your home break like?

I live at Kugenuma Beach where I run my own surf shop. It is a very good beach break close to Tokyo.

How do Japanese surfers rate in terms of world competition?

Although none has made it into the WCT (world's top 44 surfers), I believe they have the hunger to do so.

You spent a few days surfing in Hong Kong before flying back to China, how did you find the waves?

The beaches are too small and it gets too crowded. I hope surfing never gets famous in Hong Kong as there are not enough waves and they are too small.

Do you think surfing will catch on in China.

China has very good waves. If you have good waves you get good surfers. I believe world class surfers will come out of there.

Where else have you been surfing lately?

Before I came here, I was in Vietnam. I covered 1,200km of coastline north of Ho Chi Min City. There were no other surfers, but unfortunately we found only small waves.