31 March, 2020 31 March, 2020

SA’s Competitive Surfing Future


“The day I stop doing what I’m doing is when two surfers I’m working with surf exactly the same,” – Quinton Jones. Professional surf coach.

There’s no space for a ‘copy n paste’ technique or approach under Quinton Jones’ (QJ) guidance. The ‘ozzie syndrome’ as QJ likes to call it. Style, speed and sequences all become duplicated to the point where originality is replaced with automation. Turn here, go there, follow the line and stay in line. The wave becomes an assembly line with the surfer following orders on how to build a score. Under QJ’s watch, the path to competitive success lies in the originality and trusting your own approach. And looking at the success of the surfers he’s working with, originality is outscoring predictability.

Team Zag joined QJ for a training camp down the south coast of Natal to witness some of SA’s hottest emerging and established talents for a final tune-up before the upcoming contest season, including 2020 WCT inductee Matthew McGillivray, Luke Thompson, Beyrick De Vries, Shane Sykes, Luke Sjlipen and Liam De Villiers. 

All Images – Darren Simes

From day one, the camp had an easy flow to it, instead of being overly regimented and autocratic, everyone connected on the same level, there was no hierarchy, just connection, and sharing of ideas. It was all about inclusivity and the strength of sharing your individuality with fellow surfers, learning from one another. 

This has always been about the collective, there’s no space for selfishness here. And it’s rare to get this, all together in one place, sharing ideas.” – Quinton Jones.

In the water and on land that individuality and self-assuredness was on display. From youngest to oldest, this pack showed collective strength through independence. 

Luke Thompson, polite and humble with a surfing technique that’s balanced, direct and driven by an economy of movement. Luke Sjlipen, quiet, considerate and a full-on pocket surfer with a tight arc in his approach, there’s glide and precision. Shane Sykes, almost the big brother of the group, caring and patient, his surfing is as power-based as you get. Full tilt all the time with a graceful style. Beyrick De Vries, the court jester with energy to burn, just a super positive guy. His approach in the water matched this with quick direction changes and high-risk airs. Liam De Villiers, a prankster with a sharp sense of humour. The heaviest built and strongest of the lot who used his big frame to throw buckets with big accurate backhand blasts. Matthew Mc Gillivray, quiet, unassuming, considerate and a deep thinker. The surfing conversely hard, powerful, precise and ruthless. 

For McGillivray, these types of opportunities are used to sharpen upon consistency. 

For me, it’s always about getting decent numbers, advancing a bit further every year, this really helps to do that, just to keep you whole act sharp.” – Matthew Mc Gillivray

For three days, the waves delivered. Every turn, air, carve, arrangement and sequence giving its due consideration. Coach OJ, sharing decades of high end competitive strategy with his surfers giving him their interpretation of the formula. The result is individual flair balanced with experience and knowledge. And that’s always a winning combination.

On the final day, a Cessna aircraft approaches the pack of surfers waiting for a set at backline, the Cessna climbs then dips into a low flying pass just above the crew, the pilot waves from the cockpit before the plane banks and climbs again. Beyrick waves back as the plane continues to ascend.  

“That was Davey Van Zyl. He said he’d pull in today and say howsit!”

One thing is for sure, this South African competitive class of 2020 is primed to do some climbing of their own. So buckle up and watch this space, because these guys are all heading north on the rankings.



  1. sean
    1 April, 2020 at 6:54 am · Reply


    • admin
      2 April, 2020 at 8:58 am · Reply

      Care to elaborate?

  2. Gavin Roberts
    1 April, 2020 at 3:31 pm · Reply

    Stoked to see the boys training together, they already showing the world the south Africans mean business, keep ripping Boyz

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