While all eyes were on the big wave drama of Eddie Aikau contest, another moment was making headlines in Peru and Australia. The first-known surf-craft in human history was being reconstructed and ridden on Bondi Beach in Australia. Despite more than 5,000 years of archeological evidence showing the Moche people of Peru surfed the Caballitos de Totora long before Machu Picchu was a figment of the Inca imagination, this was the first time it was all demonstrated outside of Peru.
“More than a year ago representatives of the Huanchaco World Surfing Reserve and Peruvian surfing legend, Felipe Pomar, were invited to Australia by Andy and Megan McKinnon, who were working on an application to have the Gold Coast recognized as a World Surfing Reserve. They had the wild idea of bringing a Caballito de Totora from Huanchaco halfway around the world to go on a magical-history tour of Australia,” laughs Carlos Antonio Ferrer of the Save the Waves Vision Council, an International panel that selects World Surfing Reserves.
Huanchaco, a small town with uber-consistent waves, is famous in Peru for the graceful Caballitos de Totoras (seahorses) that glide onto the beach each morning with their catch. But it wasn’t until becoming a World Surfing Reserve in 2013 that Huanchaco started to get global recognition for being the world’s most ancient birth-place of surfing.
Andy McKinnon explains “My partner Megan and I visited Peru a few years ago and we were fascinated that this ancient surf-craft is still used in Huanchaco. We thought Australians would love the opportunity to experience a Caballito de Totora firsthand. And what better time to have this cultural exchange than leading up to the Dedication Day Ceremony for the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve to be held at Snapper Rocks.”
Accompanied by Australian surfing superstars like Midget Farrelly, Dave “Rasta” Rastovich,
Rusty Miller, Rabbit Bartholomew and Cheyne Horan, the award-winning Totora surfer and craftsman – Huevito Ucañán, has been nudging into Australian line-ups to demo how to ride down the line – pre-Inca style. A 500th descendant of the Moche civilization, Huevito is known in his home-town as the King of the Caballito, where he uses it daily to make his living as a fisherman.
Huevito expressed “This is a great honor for me to share and demonstrate Huanchaco´s ancient surfing traditions in Australia. It is my first time traveling outside of Peru so I didn’t really know what to expect, but everyone here has been so excited to learn about how my people build and surf the Tortora.”
It’s not just any sport can claim 5000 years of history, and have one of its ancestors show how he still uses it to make a living and surf his local break.
The Peruvian tour is into its last week of demos and parties and has covered almost 1000kms of iconic Australian breaks.