Wave Riders - Proofread

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.

Published December 13, 2016

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.