20 May, 2019 20 May, 2019

The Durban Surf Pro – Not all Crap

7 am and I receive a call from Captain Kai, “WAKE UP! We’re heading down the coast with team G-Force! I’m picking you up in 20mins! Be ready!” Kai slams the phone rendering me in a flat spin! The warm humid weather offered by Durban is a light burden to bear and instead of curling up under a duvet wishing the Captain had never called, I arise ready to grab the bull by the horns. I descend the stairs of the Zigzag house (which lies just off Florida road) to discover the cogs of the Zigzag machine turning furiously! Mark on the phone explaining to spectators why the contest has been cancelled, editor Glen Drysdale frantically trying to pump out a press release. It’s mayhem! And I couldn’t be more stoked to go surf. My phone rings, it‘s Captain Kai, he’s here. And I’m out!

All images: Ian Thurtell

Luke Thompson with a speed jam. Image: Thurtell

I hop into the car to discover Ian Thurtell, Luke Slijpen and Aya Gericke. Luke’s chilled demeanour and Aya’s generous smile do well to calm me down. Through the dodgy Durban CBD we head, Kai locks the doors. Hooting taxis, pedestrians crossing everywhere, over railways, past dilapidated high-rise buildings until the city slowly gives way to an open road. We’re free. The city, long gone. The landscape opens itself up to reveal lush greenery a symptom of the subtropical region we’re in. The South Coast is breathtakingly beautiful. Hints of Indonesia. Hawk Man, Ian Thurtell decides enough of this serenity and cues up some heavy metal. Killswitch Engage. It’s double bass, screaming vocals and thundering guitars! Kai decides this metal is too new school for his tastes and throws it back 30 years to Metallica. Enter Sandman! Luke and Aya are like, “Metalli who!? What’s that?” “It’s your education boys!” quips Ian Thurtell.

Matty Mc G, inspired by the 90’s.

We arrive at an unmentionable location to find G-Force team manager, Mikhael Vawda and rising star, Luke Thompson on the froth. Luke is convinced it’s cooking. Mikhael, a touch more reserved with his declarations calls it fun. Liam De Villiers (in a massive truck) along with Matty Mc G and Koby Oberholzer come flying into the parking lot! Together we check the waves, it’s by no means cooking, but worth a shred sesh.

Metallica who?

The two poor souls enjoying a quiet session suddenly had their fortunes changed when several of South Africa’s best join them in the lineup. But the crew is respectful and give the locals their space. 

G-Force team manager, Mikhael lays down a noteworthy carve.

The waves are rippable and the boys go to town. Fins free off-the-tops and massive rail carves the order of the day. Koby does well to show off his nuanced understanding of the South Coast, positioning himself perfectly and picking off gems. The waves seem to follow him like the Pied Piper. Where he sits, there the best waves will appear. Matty goes big. Sixth gear the only one he knows. Sinking his rail deep as possible and throwing buckets in the process. Like Matty, Luke Slijpen loves to hit big sections hard and when the wave stands to attention, Luke’s the first to slap it back down. We’re interrupted from the hi-fi action by a wonderfully old school down-carve courtesy of Captain Kai. Holding the rail for an eternity into the trough of the wave. We all hoot for the Captain. A juxtapose of tranquillity in the savageness of the hi-fi approach. The session ends, we pack it up and head for Scottburgh in search of food and more waves.

The Pied Piper of the South Coast, Koby Oberholzer.

Scottburgh the go-to wave on the South Coast provides us with fun peaks on an otherwise flat day. Liam, Captain Kai and Koby can’t wait, they head straight out, the rest of us seek replenishment. Burgers and milkshakes are the order of the day. We done while Liam the sole goofy-footer of the bunch (besides myself) hunts lefts. And when he finds them he goes to town. Liam with his lanky frame and boards with more rocker than a couple juicy South Coast bananas looks like Owen Wright on the lefts. He surfs sharp and tight.

Matty McG, always goes hard.

We finish the chow, settle the bill and head out for session number two. Luke Thompson, the frothy grom of the crew impresses with his superior flow. For a kid that age, damn he absolutely shreds. The boys move down the beach to avoid the locals. But Aya stays on the main peak. With his disarming smile and light-hearted charm he woes the locals into offering him the set waves which he obliterates.

Luke Slijpen slaps a lip back down.

The day ends and we watch the sunset from the hill overlooking the beach. We throw the grom, Luke Thompson in the boot and head back to the City. One thing’s for sure, life ain’t shit.  


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