Having watched every heat of the 2015 Citroën SA Surfing Champs from the commentary booth he commanded throughout the week-long event, we asked ‘Captain Kai’ Linder to give us a run-down on this year’s champs – the 50th edition.
Kai, Tasha Mentasti, Gigs Celliers and Dave Lipschitz jammin’ in the commentary booth.
2015 Citroën SA Surfing Champs – Richards Bay: by: Kai Linder
Let me start with how refreshing it was to have the 50th edition of the SA Surfing Champs in a new location. Over the years we have tended to stick to certain locations in this country, with the same venues being utilised for big competitions like these over and over again. In a way it narrows our competitive edge, as surfers always know what they’re going to be surfing at events, as apposed to that edge of the unknown. No one is going to claim the waves this year at Alkantstrand – they were dismal and small – but I don’t think anyone will tell you it was a bad event, because it was not!
The Zululand locals (sorry uThungulu) led by their doyen, Fred Le Roux, were so stoked to finally be hosting the event that it literally bubbled over into the rest of us. It was refreshing to say the least. There were a couple of curve balls and a few things that could have been done a bit better, but for their first event ever, they did a marvellous job of hosting the 2015 Citroën SA Surfing Champs in Richards Bay.
Representatives from surf tribes across SA gathered for the 50th time.
Into the surfing and for the first time in a long time, our surfers were forced to step out of their comfort zones and surf very small, very average beach break. At first, I was horrified! As commentator, I was going to have to sit through seven days of agony and talk about it the whole time. Pretty bleak to be honest. But then an amazing thing happened; the competitive beast in some surfers awakened and the game was on. A magical word came into play – strategy.
Where to sit, when to paddle, who to block, who to play mind games with, who to paddle over, who to avoid, and I found myself being absorbed by the spectacle unfolding before me. It was marvellous. At one point I found myself laughing at an overtly aggressive hustle in an Under 20 Girls heat, but it was the actual event, not the people involved that amused me. Most of these girls are the sweetest humans alive out of the water, but in 2-foot onshore slop at SA Champs, they turned into cold, calculating predators. They wanted the gold and nothing short of an interference call (and even that sometimes did not stop surfers getting through heats) was going to stop them. The teams cheered from the beach, frothing their surfers on and it was a damn good competition.
Richard Kidd (eThekwini) makes the lacklustre surf look lekker with a solid layback.
Who impressed? Well for one, take a 64 year-old, never surfed in a competition before, paddles out for his first ever heat and proceeds to win it. Ray Harris, or as the Zulu lifeguards screamed over their PA – the STINGRAAAAAY – won his first heat and went on to the finals.
Ray Harris (uThungulu) swooped into the final of the Men’s Over 60 division.
Seeing one of my heroes, Mike Roscoe, back in a vest and back on a surfboard after a few years out of the water was insane. Talking to him after the contest, he was so happy to be back competing and the competitive flame was well lit as he told me his goal now is to get into the SA team and to represent his country again.
It was rad to see Mike Roscoe (Ugu) shredding in a contest vest again.
Chris Knutsen is a freak! At his age I would be happy catching waves, while this guy throws 8’s and 9’s like he throws spray. Seriously he could win the Masters division in clean conditions. Wayne Monk was his usual clinical self and absolutely smoked the Over 40 division. He is such an inspirational competitive surfer and takes absolutely no prisoners, making me name him, The Terminator!
Wayne Monk (Buffalo City) dominated the Over 40 division to clinch another SA title.
One of the best moments was watching two new SA Champs being crowned on Day 6. First up was a man that has surfed in 34 SA Champs and never won a title. Perseverance paid off for Rob Moore Boyle though, and the beach erupted when he won the heat. The man had a smile that could end wars and was cheered up the beach by eThekweni (who he was surfing for) and uThungulu (where he learnt to surf).
Freddie Le Roux (uThungulu) was stoked to congratulate Rob Moore Boyle (eThekwini).
The second newbie was so amped on his first SA title that he went on a massive bender to celebrate and ended up back in Durban. Manfred Adrio knocked off some big names on route to the final, and then kept it cool and calm to walk away with the very competitive Masters category.
Celebrations begin for Manfred Adrio (eThekwini) after clinching the Masters title.
In the Women’s Open division, I was almost convinced that it was going to be Faye Zoetmulder’s year. She is surfing with such style and composure and caned her heats all the way to the final. But, it was the wily old competitor that would win Gold with one wave late in the final earning her another title. Heather Clarke proved at the 50th SA Champs that she is a legend!
Heather Clarke (Ugu) took out the Women’s title, proving (again) what a legend she is.
In the Women’s Under 20 division, Nicole Pallet continued her phenomenal form this year by dominating the final and all her heats, often by putting the other girls in a combination situation. With a bit more coaching and some progressive surfing thrown in the mix, Nicole could take the step to the big leagues.
Nicole Pallet (eThekwini) won ‘Surfer of the Contest’ with a superb performance.
Watching Ntando Msibi and Brandon Benjamin dominating their semi finals, I was convinced these two would battle for the Under 20 title. But it was the quiet guy, Joshe Faulkner who came out the gates firing and absolutely smashed the final. Joshe has a really big future ahead of him and heads off to California for the World Juniors in October. Event sponsors of the 50th SA Surfing Champs, Citroën, have offered to cover R15 000 of both Joshe and Ntando Msibi’s expenses for that trip, which is rad.
Joshe Faulkner (NMB) blasted his way to victory in the Men’s Under 20 division.
The main event arrived and I was really looking at Simon Fish for a win. He was surfing smooth and relaxed through the event, plus his Dad, Dave Fish, had already won the inaugural Over 60 title on Saturday. Cape Town’s Craig Johnson surprised many when he dominated his semi final, but he lost that momentum in the final. Chris Frolich also ripped all event but couldn’t keep his roll going in the final. In the end it was one of South Africa’s brightest young stars that connected the dots, threw buckets, and calmly took down his first SA Open Title. That was Davey van Zyl, and he did it with his usual big smile on his face. A well deserved victor and I am sure we will see more from him.
David van Zyl (eThekwini) clinched his first SA Open title in a hard-fought final.
All in all, a great week, full of stories, reunions, parties, mayhem, and of course surfing. But, that’s why we go, is it not? It is the one time of the year when history and future come together and we truly are the South African surfing family!
Oh wait, I forgot the provincial results; so well done to eThekweni and Buffalo City – great team results.
2015 CITROEN SA SURFING CHAMPS RESULTS:
SURFER OF THE CONTEST:
Nicole Pallet (eTh)
Nicole accepts her ‘Surfer of the Contest’ trophy from Mayor Mhlongo.
MEN’S (OVER 60)
1. Dave Fish (BC)
2. Chris Morris (Eth)
3. Mush Hide (NMB)
4. Ray Harris (uTh)
MEN’S (OVER 55)
1. Chris Knutsen (Eth)
2. Judge Olivier (Ugu)
3. Hans Kamhoot (CTS)
4. Barry Campbell (Eth)
MEN’S (OVER 50)
1. Dave Malherbe (BC)
2. Marc Wright (Eth)
3. Nick Pike (BC)
4. Peter Lawson (Pres)
MEN’S (OVER 45)
1. Rob Moore Boyle (Eth)
2. Andre Malherbe (BC)
3. Gareth Sepp (BC)
4. Michael Burness (Ugu)
MEN’S (OVER 40)
1. Wayne Monk (BC)
2. Carl Roux (Ugu)
3. Vince King (uTh)
4. Justin Emslie (BC)
WOMEN’S (OVER 35)
1. Tasha Mentasti (Pres)
2. Tamarys De Maroussem (uTh)
3. Heather Clark (Ugu)
4. Bianca Bosman (BC)
MEN’S (OVER 35)
1. Manfred Adrio (Eth)
2. Greg Emslie (BC)
3. Justin Maisch (Ugu)
4. Lu Whittaker (Pres)
1. Heather Clark (Ugu)
2. Faye Zoetmulder (NMB)
3. Emma Smith (NMB)
4. Tasha Mentasti (Pres)
1. David Van Zyl (eTh)
2. Simon Fish (BC)
3. Craig Johnson (CTS)
4. Chris Frolich (eTh)
WOMEN’S (UNDER 20)
1. Nicole Pallet (eTh)
2. Gina Smith (NMB)
3. Chanelle Botha (Ugu)
4. Jade Story (uTh)
MEN’S (UNDER 20)
1. Joshe Faulkner (NMB)
2. Devin Whitehead (Eth)
3. Brandon Benjamin (CTS)
4. Ntando Msibi (Pres)
MASTERS CUP WINNERS: Buffalo City
PRESIDENTS CUP WINNERS: Ethekwini