South Africa’s surfing soul comes alive in Durban


The soul of South African surfing is alive and well at the national longboard championships at Durban’s fabled Bay of Plenty, write David Macgregor and Fred Kockott.

From legends of the sport who cut their teeth riding crude “log” surfboards in the swinging 60s to ripping groms barely in their teens, the stoke of combining retro styling with new school, power surfing has attracted 200 men, women and children from across the country.

Continuing until Sunday, the event sees the likes of Alfonso Peters from the Cape Flats, and reigning open men’s champion Steven “Steezy” Sawyer – the son of legendary Jeffreys Bay surfboard shaper Des Sawyer – competing for a place in the South African team in the next world longboarding championships.

Pictured here in action at the recent World Longboard Surfing Championship in Papau New Guinea, Alfonso Peters from the Cape Flats, is among top surfers vying for gold at the South African championships being held at Durban’s Bay of Plenty this week. Photo: SUPPLIED

But it’s not just all about the contest in the waves, but also celebrating the vibe of this centuries old sport that has its roots in Hawaii, said KZN Longboard Surfing Association chairman KZNLSA, Stanton Ashton, who helped launch Roving Reporters 2017 Soul Surfer Awards in aid of marine conservation at Durban’s Hilton Hotel on Sunday.

Roving Reporters Soul Surfer Awards aim to engage the surfing fraternity in educating people about critical issues affecting the health of our oceans, said John Charter, CEO of the Human Elephant Foundation, a co-sponsor of the awards.

“The oceans have become the number one ecological priority. You guys use the ocean and can play an important role as custodians of our magnificent marine environment,” Charter told prospective nominees.

The winner of the Roving Reporters 2017 Soul Surfer Award shall receive a custom-made Spider Murphy longboard valued at R4,500, sponsored by SurfSure, along with a donation from the Human Elephant Foundation to award to a marine conservation cause of the winner’s choice.

Runner-up prizes include a whale watching trip with the World Cetacean Alliance, either in Durban or Port Elizabeth, a limited edition Phemba Kahle turtle sculpture made by convicted turtle poacher turned environmental ambassador, Makotikoti Zikhali, and a weekend getaway for two at Shapes for Africa rustic B&B in Mt Morelands.

Tom King sets out to unseat Steve Sawyer

Shot of the day from Dave Nisbet 

Durban’s Brandon Ribbink won his first heat in the Open Men’s division of SA Longboard Championships this week, and is tipped to make it to the finals on Sunday. Photo: Dave Nisbet
Lyle Watson in action on opening day. Photo Dave Nisbet
Hang Five styling
  • This story forms part of Roving Reporters Ocean Watch series supported by the Blue Fund – a joint Grindrod Bank and Wildlands initiative that promotes marine conservation.

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