15 May, 2013 15 May, 2013

Dropping in on Slade Prestwich – Defending Quik Pro Jnr champ

18 Year-old Slade Prestwich is one of this country’s most talented young surfers – of that there is little doubt. If you don’t believe us, just watch him surf and you’ll see that the Scottburgh local has all the ingredients to make it huge.

To outsiders it may have appeared that Slade, who now lives in Durban to be closer to the action, may have lacked the focus needed to be a force to be reckoned with on an international stage – this after missed heats and blown chances earlier this year (Slade has confirmed that this was due to a big case of miscommunication and totally unintentional. – Ed).


Having recently signed up with trainer/manager Gary Freeman of Body Cycle, the talented natural foot is looking like he means business – especially when you consider that Gary has helped World Tour surfer Travis Logie through tough heats and re-qualifying for the ASP World Tour on numerous occasions. Slade’s also about to embark on a solid crack at the World Qualifying Series in his quest for WCT qualification.

But first he will look to defend his Quiksilver Pro Junior title at Durban’s New Pier before heading off to South America to contest the WQS. First Peru,  then Chile and on to Mexico. And if that doesn’t work out, then there’s always a career in male modelling – as we learnt when we cornered the shredder on a windy afternoon on the Durban Beachfront.

This is what he had to say:


Zigzag: You’re defending your Quik Pro Junior title this coming weekend at New Pier. How are preparations going and what equipment will you be looking to ride?
Slade: Lately I have been working hard with Gary (his new manager) in the gym, we’ve been doing a lot of core training. We’ve also been at the beach every day doing mock heats, so I am ready. As far as equipment, I’ve ordered a Fred Rubble, a Flyer and a Weirdo Ripper from Channel Islands for the event. They’re all shaped with 3mm blue blanks, so they’re really light, and they’re all my standard size, which is 5’11” or 5’10”. The Weirdo Ripper is a little smaller actually.

What is the secret to your board choice out at New Pier?
New Pier likes a very normal board. Nothing shorter, because I find that longer boards definitely throw more spray out there, and that’s what you want. I definitely won’t ride anything too crazy or weird out there. I might ride something with a bit more rocker if it’s six foot and barreling, otherwise I’ll just be on my standard board.

Still talking about equipment, how much of the details do you know about what makes your boards go? Or do you just give it a test ride and get a feeling from it there?
I spend a lot of time online and at the factory learning what guys like Reynolds and Kelly and them are saying about their boards. I also know that your board’s performance relies heavily on what blank it is made from. The flexibility of your blank is really important, and it’s why I have been trying to get the best blanks from Max Wetteland at Surfblanks. I’ve found the blanks with the 3mm blue glue-up to be the best for me, because they’re the most flexible and they are pretty strong. Then I stick with my 6oz top and 4oz bottom glassing for my boards. That’s it.

Slade puts his board through its paces in J-Bay earlier this year.

Slade puts his board through its paces in J-Bay earlier this year.

How important is it for you (or any other aspiring pro) to win the Quiksilver Pro Junior?
Winning the Quik Pro Junior is really important for me! Not only does the win give you a bit of exposure internationally, but other than that there’s also a bit of cash, which is never bad to win. Most importantly, it’s a chance for me to show my sponsors how I’m progressing, so for me, it’s very important that I win.

You just recently visited Cape Town. What were you doing there and what do you think about the Mother City and its waves?
I was down there to get some clips and make a video with Steve (Michelsen), we worked closely together to try get some publicity and maybe get it on to an international website or something – which we did, so I was stoked. I also surf Durban so much that I just wanted to mix it up with the waves. I find that Cape Town generally doesn’t have the length of ride that we find on the East Coast, but it has more wedges and is more of a boosting wave. I love Cape Town. The city is cool, it’s clean, it’s run by the DA, it’s just rad.

Here’s Slade tearing up Cape Town as filmed and edited by Steven Michelsen:

South Coast surfers have long been singled out as unable to cut it on the world tour. “Too chilled” or “miss home too much” are just two of the reasons being thrown out there by others. What are your thoughts on that?
I do think that the guys on the South Coast are way too chilled, because they are brought up being around other guys who haven’t made it and are very chilled. I’ve seen a lot of good surfers down there that just lack the ambition to be on tour. That’s mostly why I chose to move to Durban, to surf with these guys, to be here where everything is happening. Not hang out down there and just stay down there.

Do you still reckon that you need a passport to get into the Transkei?
(Laughs) That was a joke! A complete set-up. (Laughs) How’s that question?

We’ve been watching and you are undoubtedly surfing well. Why have we not seen you going head-to-head with the guys on the WQS?
You’ll see that soon, because I am going on tour. I’m off to South America in June. I’m going to Peru to do an event there, then to Chile and then on to Mexico following that for those 6-Star events there. Hopefully I can get a wildcard into the Mr Price Pro. So this year I will be on the WQS for sure.

Slade unwinding in Scottburgh.

Slade unwinding in Scottburgh.

What’s the 5-year plan for Slade?
Right now it is just to finish matric and get onto the WCT. If that doesn’t work out I was thinking about the modelling industry (chuckles), because there is a lot of money to be made there.

You missed a couple of heats earlier this year. Is there any specific reason for this?
Well, what happened was that I had entered the Under 20 division, but on the contest website it said that you can’t enter under 20 unless you are 19 or 20 years-old, which I never knew. So I entered Under 20 and they were only due to surf on Day 2. When I got down to the beach in the afternoon I learned that they had taken me out of the Under 20 division and put me into Under 18’s, who had surfed earlier. But nobody had really told me though. Just a big mix-up. I am not going to miss my heat for no reason.

You’ve just started working with a manager. How has this helped?
Well, I used to be pretty slow with the whole social media/marketing side of being a pro surfer and Gary has definitely helped me out a bit with that. Always telling me to stay connected and update my Facebook, Instagram and put up videos – which is why I went to Cape Town. It has really helped a lot and right now I can honestly say that I really enjoy social media. I’ve been converted. Besides the gym work, Gary and I have also been focussing a lot on the mental aspect of competing – How to surf a good heat, what waves to catch, different game plans if things are not going according to script in tough conditions. It has definitely helped a lot.

Slade along with groms Shane Sykes, Thando Msibi and Saxton Randall will be looking for the win at this weekend's Quiksilver Pro Junior and King of the Groms.

Slade along with groms Shane Sykes, Thando Msibi and Saxton Randall will be looking for the win at this weekend’s Quiksilver Pro Junior and King of the Groms.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a competitor?
If the waves get bigger then I could probably make a heat, as I surf a lot of bigger waves. My weakness is just general stuff, like catching a bad wave or not really surfing like I should, you know.

Personally, how do you feel you measure up to some of the more hyped international guys your age around the world?
You’ll probably found out at the end of this year after we see how I go on the WQS. I am going to give it my all, and really try qualify. I think I can do it, I’ve been working hard. I’m really amped!

Favourite Surfer: Julian Wilson.
Favourite Wave: Scottburgh or New Pier.
Favourite Artist: Eminem and Tupac.
Favourite Size Board: 5’11” x 18 7/8″ x 2 3/16″
Favourite Food: Pasta.
Favourite Jol: Taco Zulu or Boulevard.
Favourite Season: Got to be Winter.
Favourite Surf Buddy: My mate Shaun from Scottburgh.
Favourite Slang: Shot!
Favourite Manoeuvre: Stalefish air reverse.

Here’s another video of Slade tearing it up on his native South Coast:

Stay connected with Slade and his new love for social media here:
On Facebook>>
On Instagram>>
On Twitter>>
His personal blog>>

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