9 September, 2013 9 September, 2013

An Inside View on the 2013 SA Masters Champs

Border once again dominated the SA Masters Champs by claiming their seventh consecutive team title, but the tournament means so much more than simply deciding individual medals and team standings.

For an insider’s view on the event, we asked the Boland’s Phil Nel for his thoughts on the 2013 SA Masters Surfing Champs in Mossel Bay.


Phil gets in some practice back home.

Phil gets in some practice back home.

It was supposed to be a ‘holiday’, but I’ll tell you something – the SA Masters was a long weekend of grom-like surfing, beer and wine drinking, socializing, and cheering like high school kids at athletics day. I’m lekker tired – and so are the other 120 competitors (and probably the greater Mossel Bay as well!)

For the opening ceremony 120 surfers from eight different surfing provinces squeezed in to the small Tidals restaurant in Mossel Bay on Wednesday. This was no normal opening function, as old friends found each other, beer in hand, and wasted no time in catching up. Greg Emslie had to stand on a chair to make his speech – The 2013 SA Masters Champs had arrived. This was my first time competing, and in all honesty I didn’t know what to expect.


Local tube-master, Stephen Hair, caught this clean pit in the finals of the Grand Kahunas – where he finished second.

Every Province has its legends – from the Over-55 veterans still doing their thing, to the ex-pros – and with the current state of the surf industry (the feeling that a lot of surf brands have lost touch with the core surfers) the importance of this event became evident to me – The SA Masters Champs seem to be a very important spoke in the Saffa surfing wheel.

This event was a celebration and a contest to see who was best, and trust me, it’s still very competitive. Point in fact – One of the highlights of this year’s Masters, for me, was watching Hans Kamhoot from WP winning the Veterans final. The Over 55’s were charging some serious surf at powerful Outer Pool on the first two days.

Of course, there was some hassling going down, a lot of strategies, and some guys were going for broke on the bottom section. I sat there watching their final on Sunday and I just thought – Jeepers, I would be stoked if I could still compete and have fun in a contest singlet in 25 years time.

Great weather ensured happy faces all round.

Great weather ensured happy faces all round.

Outer Pool is such a cool setting for a team contest. All the teams were staying in the beachfront accommodation of Point Village, and competitors were getting cheered on from the stoep of these wooden beach houses. It created this close amphitheater-like setup.

All the while, the moderate climate of the Garden Route played along with some blissful sunny weather for the duration of the event – Tropitone sunscreen must have been stoked that their promo products could get tested.

Kai Linder stood in as MC and DJ of the event, which added to a good beach vibe – for which the Southern Cape must be applauded for their smooth running of the entire tournament.

Seniors finalist, Kelvin Zehkme, tucks in for some tube time at Outer Pool.

Seniors finalist, Kelvin Zehkme from the Eastern Cape, tucks in for some tube time.

Surfers were greeted with some solid surf on the first two days. Outer Pool is mainly surfed on a low tide, but with the amount of heats to be surfed (up to 28 heats a day), contest director Chris Dunt pushed through and stuck it out at the right-hand reef break.

This made for interesting viewing, as surfers were attempting to negotiate the sketchy end section on the fuller tide for one ‘last’ move. Basically the wider waves ended up on a dry shelf, and I watched at least three surfers pull out too late, before meeting their fate on the mossel strewn reef.

The final day saw the surf drop down to a ridiculously rippable overhead size. Outers is such a good wave, offering anything from critical top-to-bottom surfing, open face carves, and a fast barreling ledge at the end section. It also has one of the most dodgy urchin-filled keyholes to exit the water from.

Talking about urchins – a tweezer company should have co-sponsored the event with Tropitone, as surfers were regularly seen digging out the pesky urchins that were the Outer Pool channel’s toll fee.


The level of surfing in all divisions was extremely high. World class to be honest. South Africa will be able to send another title-contending side to World Masters next year. To name some individuals would be sacrilege, but just look at the list of names in the different division finals. I would also like to single out the Womens final – the level was so good.

Border continued to dominate the event. They have a strong grip on the Masters Champs, but underdog provinces like Zululand and Boland really joined the party with some solid performances in the overall standings.

Perhaps Kai Linder summed it up best, when at the prize-giving he said that this is still one of the best events in South Africa regarding quality of waves, surfing, and good spirit. It is important that this event not only continues, but also grows in stature.



The event was awesome, and two things always stand out at the SA Masters Champs – the camaraderie between everyone, and the waves.

In the water the competition was as serious and as cut-throat as ever, but out the water it’s always a great time to share a few beers with all the other teams and catch up with SA’s surfing legends.


For all the results from the 2013 SA Masters Surfing Champs, click here>>

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