The Build for Better Adaptive Surfing Championship started in clean 2-4′ surf at New Pier over the weekend, and the surf remained clean, despite the freshening onshore.
How is that so surfers might ask? Well, ask any Durbanites and they will get the reference after a horrendous few weeks that saw severe rain flood their city with trash followed by a sewage leak that closed beaches and cancelled the Zigzag Surf Pro.
Organiser Julia Van Zyl, founder of Durban-based adaptive surfing NGO Made for More, was mightily relieved when poor e-coli test results that threatened a similar fate began to improve days before the adaptive contest.
“The contest director, Anne Wright and myself had to do some serious investigation. There was no way we were going to put our contestants – some of whom already have compromised immune systems – in anything less than good, clean and safe conditions,” Van Zyl said.
Fortunately they got help from the Ethekweni Municipality and with invaluable assistance from Environmental Consultant Robin Bisset, they conducted their own tests daily: “Results went from poor, to moderate, to good, all in a matter of seven days!”
Featured Image – Dawn Rouse
Six divisions took part, with the finale a tight tussle in the AS-1 (standing) that saw two time ISA World Adaptive champion Antony Smyth (Cape Town) defeat long time rival and buddy JP Veaudry from East London, also known to have bagged a silver medal at the world champs.
But the sensation at New Pier on Saturday was Anton Wiersma, who completely blew the AS-2 (kneeling) division apart. In 2000, Wiersma was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma in his ankle and his leg was amputated below the knee in 2001 to prevent the cancer from spreading.
An Eastern Province surfer before the amputation, he is regarded as one of the best kneeboarders in the country, abled or otherwise. In the last South African Kneeboard Championships, he took third in the open and first in the master’s. He could just rock the world at the Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship in San Diego later this year, and will surely be selected for the national team.
The beach at New Pier reverberated to the sound of stoked hoots and shouts of joy, particularly during the Expression Session held between heats in the contest, also comprising prone assist (AS-5), prone (AS-4), sit (AS-3) and visually impaired (AS-VI) divisions.
The stoked standout was young Lwazi Matanga, a young Cape Town surfer from Delft township, who could be seen screaming in joy as the saltwater therapy worked its magic. “C’mon! That’s it. One more! One more!”
They’re a tough bunch, with an intensity of spirit that is unique, perhaps because of past adversity that bonds them together. Matanga, the most stoked participant, has been dealt arguably the worst of fate’s hand. He was shot in the head a few years ago, which caused right-side paralysis (hemiplegia).
“Arguably” because many of these stories are harrowing accounts of some form of trauma or other.
Perhaps because of this, they’re fond of irony. They couldn’t care less what people think of them. In among the banter and ribbing between them, you will hear it.
Who else but adaptive surfers would refer to the 2017 regional title at the SA Champs the Cripple Cup? They couldn’t give a stuff about our sympathies, or predilections for PC semantics.
They laugh at us when we cry because they don’t want our sympathy, just our respect. Able-bodied tears are a knee-jerk response to what they sarcastically call inspiration porn, and a lot of it is peddled out there.
Why do you think former AS-2 world Champion, Australian Mark Stewart, is nicknamed ‘Mono’. It has nothing to do with music, but everything to do with his one remaining leg. He doesn’t surf in stereo bru. He surfs mono.
There is the Welshman Llywelyn “Spongebob” Williams. Yes, he got the name as a kid because he looked like Spongebob Squarepants. English surfer Rick Bennet calls himself Pegleg on Facebook. He doesn’t even use his first name. Taking that even further, I saw a post asking that he please be called Peg.
What about Australian double amputee Reddog Wheatley? His face is red, obviously. And like old Peg, he does not mention his first name on Facebook. He’s Reddog.
Of course, there is emotion among the adaptive folk beyond when able-bodied outsiders tear up with sympathy. Of the 26 adaptive surfers who entered, one came all the way from Hawaii to participate, and she won her division.
The cool thing about regional and national Adaptive Champs – and they’re growing in countries around the world – is that they accept entries from anywhere. If they make the podium, the next local in line is considered for selection to any regional or national team.
Darian Haynes, 19, cracked up when accepting her award as winner of the Women’s AS-2. Haynes has Erb’s Palsy – caused when she was pulled by her left arm too forcefully out of the womb at birth, causing permanent nerve damage in her left shoulder.
But she wasn’t crying about that.
THE ADAPTIVE SURFING FAMILY – A MESSAGE FROM JULIA VAN ZYL
This event would not have been possible without the many sponsors, volunteers and friends of Made for More that came on board to love, encourage and support us. Every year the support grows from strength to strength and that just speaks to the amazing community we as Adaptive Surfing South Africa have built.Well done to everyone who is doing their bit for Adaptive Surfing around the country- you all know who you are! To Surfing South Africa’s contest director, Anne Wright.
Thank you to you, your head judge Bongani Xulu and the judging panel for a fair, smooth and brilliantly run contest. Anne, you are a legend.
To our main and naming sponsor SBS Tanks, thank you for not only contributing financially, but for contributing your time, and for getting deeply involved in the day.
We know this relationship is going to continue to grow and flourish as we BUILD FOR BETTER! A massive thank to our official sponsors and partners: SBS Tanks, Made For More, Triggerfish Animation, Surfing SA, Sports and Recreation South Africa, Jumping Kids and Community Build Durban.
Associate sponsors and friends: Hurley, Afro's, Mr Price Sport, Hurricane Surf, aQuellé, Gooderson Tropicana Hotel, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, Ocean Ventures, City Celebration and Ignition.
#adaptivesurfing #surftherapy #surf #nationals #sachamps #southafrica #durban #newpier #community #family #friendsofmadeformoresa
ASVI Men (Blind and Visually Impaired)
1. Jared Sacks (Kommetjie, Western Cape)
2. Danito Mondlane (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
3. Sabelo Ngema (Glenwood, KwaZulu-Natal)
4. Erynn Geddie (Glenwood, KwaZulu-Natal)
1. Albert Rust (Middelburg, Mpumalanga)
2. Lwazi Matanga (Delft, Cape Town, Western Cape)
1. Noluthando Makalima (Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape)
1. Daniel Nel (Cape Town, Western Cape)
1. Tracy Mckay (Bluff, KwaZulu-Natal)
2. Alulutho "Lulu" Tshoba (Clernaville, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
1. Douglas Hendrikz (Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal)
1. Anton Wiersma (Port Alfred, Eastern Cape)
2. Donovan Kanes (Simon’s Town, Western Cape)
3. Tyler Pike (Cape Town, Western Cape)
1. Darian Haynes (Hawaii)
2. Grace Anderson (Somerset West, Western Cape)
1. Antony Smyth (Cape Town, Western Cape)
2. Jean-Paul Veaudry (East London, Eastern Cape)
Derrick Mboyisa (Muizenberg, Cape Town) – Best Wave
Thandi Muir (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)- Most Waves
Hayley Raman (New Germany, KwaZulu-Natal)- Longest Ride
Amuri Mwanza (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal) -Biggest Wipeout
Mfundo Blose (New Germany, KwaZulu-Natal -Most Stoked
Peter Glass (Amamzintoti, KwaZulu-Natal)
David Nhlapo (Pretoria, Gauteng)
Kayden Eksteen (Newlands East, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
Dean Hart (Durban North, KwaZulu-Natal)
Rayaan Moodley (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
Guy (Oliver) Sinclair (Winston park, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
Krishiv Katuwaro (Howick, KwaZulu-Natal)
James Sinclair (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
Nelisiwe Sibiya (Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal)
Daniel Deghaye (Glenwood, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)
Sibobgile Shosha (Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape)
Chloe Malcomess (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal)