Last weekend saw a re-kindling of old rivalries as inter-club surfing was once again contested on a national scale. Despite the weather and the waves not completely coming to the party, the success of the event was massive and there’s already talk of who’s going to take out the next Billabong SA Interclub Champs, which will go down in J-Bay.
J-Bay Boardriders Club took home the honours as SA’s best surf club, and we caught up with team coach Etienne Venter to get his take on his club’s sweet victory.
ZIGZAG: Howzit Etienne, what does this win mean for J-Bay Boardriders Club?
ETIENNE: To us this was massive! It’s not often that you can get national recognition as a surf club, so for us as a club this is hugely significant. Judging by the response and all the congratulations we have received, this win is acknowledged by a lot of people out there as a big achievement. I believe as this contest goes on in the future it will become one of THE major SA Titles.
There was a lot of heckling before the event even started, with guys from North Swell Surf Club in particular claiming that the other teams were lucky that they weren’t competing. Was the competition fierce between competitors once the comp got underway? Did it get ugly?
As the saying goes – Talk is Cheap and the proof is in the results! It was game on during the comp and all there took it seriously, as every team there wanted that title of SA Surf Club Champ. There was a fair amount of ‘surf sledging’ going on, especially with Wave Wizards, who were right next to us. There were a few good chirps and some pressure responses when the clock started running out. One of the classics was Beyrick shouting at Julie to swim out to Nikita so she can get catch the two waves needed with 4 minutes of the final remaining. The pressure was on and some teams handled while others folded.
By winning the Interclub Champs, J-Bay Boardriders now get to host the next one on home turf. Do you think the trophy (and contest) will be staying in J-Bay for a long time?
Oh yes, we worked hard to win that trophy and it’s not going to leave J-Bay for quite some time. We have a big pool of young up-and-coming surfers and with our current crop of top surfers I feel very confidant of that trophy staying with the Jeffreys Bay Boardriders for a while. At home we will be very hard to beat!
Dutchie from West Coast Boardriders claimed that they blew their heat on purpose, just so they can come to J-Bay for the next event. What do you reckon?
I reckon that was one of their better calls on the day, with a 50km drive, 8 degree water and freezing cold weather in the middle of summer, I don’t think their was a team at the beach who did not want to be in J-Bay. I reckon this was the idea of Ryan Payne (an ex J-Bay Boardriders member).
It is interesting to note that the winning team also claimed the trophy for best team spirit. How important is team work in the tag-team format of competition?
Working as a team in a Tag Team event is everything. We are a very tight group, and were all very comfortable with and supportive of each other. Every surfer went out there to surf for the rest of the team and friends, as your scores and approach in a tag event has an impact on the rest of your team – unlike in a normal contest where your surfing and choices only impact on you as an individual. This attitude and the fact that we supported each other 100% helped us to keep a calm head and make the right choices as the clock ran down and the pressure mounted.
Overall, what was the vibe like for competitors and spectators? Do you see the Interclub Champs as something that can potentially gain a huge amount of interest, where groms are going to be lining up to sign up for their respective boardriding clubs?
It was awesome. The weather did not come to the party, but every team there was amping to surf and compete against the other clubs. I see this becoming one of the big events on the SSA calendar and with the support of sponsors like Billabong it can only get bigger and better. I can tell you now every grom, junior, senior and ballie is going to go extra hard in the local club events to try and get a spot in the team that will go to SA Club Champs.
Lastly, what is the secret to being the best surf club in South Africa?
Being stoked on surfing! Our members from the grommie to the ballie are all totally stoked on the sport and just want to surf. Often when the wind is onshore or the waves are small (and J-Bay can be pretty miserable in those conditions), our members will be out there having a jol as they just want to be in ocean. That stoke is what connects us all.