Hanging Ten In Munich, Germany’s Surfing Capital

The standing wave of Munich’s Eisbach River has encouraged a lively surf scene – and a new niche industry along with it. Some of the city’s river riders are starting to make a name for themselves outside of Germany as well.

Surfer on Munich's Eisbach River
Surfer on Munich's Eisbach River
Christian Helten

MUNICH -- Things go pretty quickly with Tao Schirrmacher. His surf board glides smoothly across the water as he jumps and turns. One maneuver succeeds another, at a speed that makes him stand out. And less than 15 minutes later, Tao is standing back in the parking lot behind the art museum peeling off his Neoprene wetsuit.

Tao's just come from a meeting at the agency where he works as a freelance industrial designer -- he just wanted to get a little surfing in before going home to work on another project: the repair kits he sells other Eisbach River surfers. These are small white cans with the words "Big Ding" printed on them. A ding is a dent in a surfboard. Damage to surfboards is frequent in Munich because they keep hitting up against the stone wall at river's edge.

Tao stuffs his wetsuit into the trunk of his VW Polo, and heads home to fill some polyester resin from a large canister into 250 milliliter bottles that go in the repair kit The kits bring in a couple of hundred euros extra income a month.

Tao‘s repair kit is one of many business ideas that have developed around the Eisbach. There are several surfboard manufacturers in Munich, and one fin maker. Many surf shops and big sports outlets sell surfing gear. Munich is home to a German surfing magazine, Tide. In the Schwabing district, a surf bar called Arts "n" Boards has just opened, and on Aug. 20 and 21 at Munich airport, Surf and Style, the first European Championship in Stationary Wave Riding is taking place with an artificially created standing wave. So the Eisbach has long been more than just merely a place for a few surfers to fool around; it's the focal point of a vibrant scene with influence that extends well beyond the Bavarian city, and catalyst of a small local surfing industry. In a sense, the Eisbach has made Munich Germany's surfing capital.

That's why Hamburg's Surf Festival is also staged in Munich (on-going until August 7). Organizer Christoph Ziegelmann hails from Hamburg, where – because it's right on the sea – one would expect a livelier surfing scene, but, he says, "surfing is higher status in Munich than in any other German city. The sport's much more within reach there."

Surfers are so common in Munich they don't stand out. On a nice summer's day, anybody cycling through the Innenstadt will sooner or later encounter one with their board under their arm. Surfers don't have to go searching for beaches with good waves: their playground is downtown. "It's like a little stadium here," says Tao. "Everything comes together in this one space."

Tao is one of about 15 surfers who call themselves the FUS Crew. The name doesn't really mean anything, and the crew has no specific goals, says Tao. FUS is just a bunch of guys who enjoy surfing together and who get inspiration – and grow as surfers – from each other's jumps and tricks.

German surfing in Australian movie houses

For people who aren't from Munich, it's a particular thrill to see to see somebody riding a river wave. The stationary wave is mentioned in every tourist guidebook, and even seasoned ocean surfers stand in admiration before some of the tricks they see performed on it. The movie Keep Surfing, which premiered at the Munich FilmFest in 2009, documents the Munich surfing scene, and cemented the city's reputation as German surfing capital. Shown in theaters nationwide, the film made the rounds of film festivals worldwide and will soon open in Australian theaters.

The Eisbach's growing fame went hand in hand with another development: sponsoring. "There are now about 30 people with sponsoring deals," Tao estimates. Most of them don't get much more than clothes and gear but it's enough to finance their hobby and a couple of trips to the ocean.

The first person to get the idea of sponsoring Eisbach surfers was Nico Meisner, one of the founders of Buster Surfboards, a Munich company. When you go to visit him at work, your first impression is that it's not really a serious business. He sits in a chaise longue on the lawn, his laptop bag and mobile phone on the grass beside him, his computer on his knees. In the background is the sound of flowing water -- when Nico lifts his eyes from his screen he sees Munich's Number Two surfing spot, the Floßlände. "When I don't have to go to the warehouse and the weather's nice, I often come here to work," he says.

It's an apparently successful way of getting things done: Nico‘s company presently makes 15 different boards for river and ocean surfing and sells about 500 a year all over Europe. That makes Buster one of the biggest German manufacturers. When Nico travels, he says he's amazed to see how well-known the company is. "Many times, I've been on a beach in France or Portugal with my board and somebody will say to me: ‘Buster, that's those guys from Munich!" If we get talking, and they realize it's my company, I get a kind of respect I never would have expected."

Buster is perhaps the best example of the way a business has flourished around the Eisbach. "Before, people surfed on boards that they bought cheap wherever they were on vacation. Nobody had any sense of what was best suited for conditions here," Nico recalls. There were no boards specifically tailored to a river wave. So Nico and his business partner began to build some. "The Eisbach was and remains the lifeblood of our business," Nico says.

It starts to rain. Nico closes his laptop. The rain is not a problem for him. If he feels like it, he'll go out later and get a little surfing in.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Cebete

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.


"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.



A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.


How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.

➡️


"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."

— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.


Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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