Thailand is rarely thought of as a country to take a surfboard to, yet it now houses the largest surfboard manufacturer in the world, producing 75,000 surfboards in one year. Randy French started with just 50 boards from local manufacturer Cobra in 1990 and now the Surftech / Tuflite name is synonymous with modern epoxy surfboards. Thailand was chosen for it's cheap labour costs rather than the quality of it's surf, however, Thailand's western shoreline has enough decent waves to attract surfers looking for cheap local costs and the famously warm Thai smile and hospitality. Apparently, a Kiwi guy was responsible for introducing surfing to Phuket back in the '70s and the younger Thais have embraced the sport as it fits their laid-back lifestyle. Da was probably the first Thai surfer in the late '70s. Regulars in the water are now a mixture of local Thais and foreigners from the sizeable expat community. Phuket now holds annual surf contests and supports a growing and enthusiastic surfing fraternity. The 'Land Of Smiles' should not be rated as a mainstream surfing destination, but a fun surf in uncrowded and friendly conditions is on the cards for those passing through. Undoubtedly, the most famous wave in Thailand was the 26th December, 2004 tsunami that took 5500 victims, mostly along the 865km (537mi) of coastline facing the Andaman Sea. Two-thirds of Thailand's huge coastline is in the Gulf of Thailand with occasional waves during the NE monsoon at Koh Samui or near Songkhla.