Dropping-in is wrong 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time it’s a total accident, while other times perhaps somebody hasn’t waited their turn. But dropping in intentionally during a women’s-only surf contest, with competitors as young as nine years old, is wrong 100% of the time.
This was the scenario that played out this past Saturday 15 November at Long Beach in Kommetjie during the Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge.
Whether free-surfing (pictured) or during a contest, hassling and burning your fellow surfer is just wrong.
Onlookers watched a macho display that can only be labelled as embarrassing when a crew of free surfers, ranging from teenagers to supposedly mature men, repeatedly ignored requests to stay out of the contest area and proceeded to drop-in and snake waves from competitors. It’s important to note that the entire break was not closed off for the event, with organisers just asking fellow surfers to please give the contestants some room to compete. Even more concerning, there were reports of intimidation tactics being employed against the competitors by some surfers, like water being splashed at them and verbal abuse.
“I’ve been to a good few contests over the years but today I was gobsmacked,” said Surfing South Africa board member, Anne Wright. “It was a total free-for-all, with nearly every guy on an SUP, shortboard and longboard just blatantly dropping in on girls as young as 9! Some surfing their first contest.”
Surfing South Africa General Manager, Robin de Kock was ashamed of the behaviour he witnessed.
“Today was the first day of competition in the Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge,” wrote Robin on Facebook. “Close to 40 girls, many from far afield, made their way to Long Beach to compete in the only stand alone surfing contest on the Surfing South Africa calendar. The surf was big and difficult and for some of the girls pretty intimidating. There was a girl of 9 competing in the U14 Division (Lisa Van Heerden) and a number of 12 and 13 year-olds. Brave young girls paddling out to compete in tough Long Beach conditions. Respect to all of them. Sadly however, this respect was not shown by the male dominated non contestant lineup of surfers and longboarders who spent the entire contest intimidating and bullying the female contestants. Our requests to the bunch in the water to give the girls space and show some respect was ignored. It made me ashamed of my gender. Not only did the mob in the line up drop in, but they also sneered at the competitors and splashed water at them. A couple of them even boasted about their behaviour towards the “chicks” while getting out of their wetsuits in the car park. When I confronted them about their lack of courtesy their response was an expletive fuelled rant followed by a personal insult. If this behaviour towards girls and women who surf is a mirror of the behaviour towards girls and women in general, I am ashamed and deeply disappointed. Many of the bullies in the lineup today will try and justify their selfish behaviour. There is just no excuse…”
Zag has a policy; regardless of whether you agree with surf contests or not, when the situation arises that you are hustling for waves with a nine year-old girl, that’s often a good time to re-assess the situation. Whether that’s finding a different spot to surf, or just shifting down a gear and sharing the stoke, both are far better options.
Tanika Hoffman ripped all the way to second place in the Open division.
On Sunday the contest was able to continue without major incident, as a group of surfers who were concerned by what they saw the previous day policed the lineup. In the end, Faye Zoetmulder carved to victory in the Open Women’s division ahead of Tanika Hoffman in second, Tarryn Chudleigh in third and Nikita Kekana, who rounded out the Top 4.
BILLABONG WOMEN’S SUMMERSURF CHALLENGE – FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Faye Zoetmulder
2 – Tanika Hoffman
3 – Tarryn Chudleigh
4 – Nikita Kekana
1 – Anoush Zakarian
2 – Jade Mets
3 – Crystal Hulett
4 – Pippa Jones
1 – Sophie Bell
2 – Cana Foster
3 – Pippa Jones
4 – Michelle Verreynne
1 – Sophie Bell
2 – Olivia Izzard
3 – Sarah Ingram
4 – Nina Harmse
Check out the official press release below.
FAYE ZOETMULDER WINS BILLABONG WOMEN’S SUMMERSURF CHALLENGE
Faye Zoetmulder carved to victory in the Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge.
Sunday November 16th: Faye Zoetmulder of Seal Point won the Open Division title in the Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge which was completed in 2- 3 foot surf at Long Beach in Kommetjie today. Zoetmulder spent most of the heat in second place behind Tanika Hoffman of Hout Bay but edged ahead in the dying minutes to take the victory, the bulk of the 2A Pro Surf Tour points on offer and a cheque for R4000. Tarryn Chudleigh of Kommetjie was third and Nikita Kekana of Kalk Bay took fourth place in the Final.
Zoetmulder and Hoffmann will leave for China on Wednesday as part of the South African team that will compete in the ISA China Cup in Riyue Bay, Hainan Province
Honours in the U20 Division went the way of Anoush Zakarian of Melkbosstrand with the talented Jade Mets of Ballito taking second place ahead of Crystal Hulett of St Francis. Up and coming local star, Pippa Jones of Marina Da Gama claimed fourth place
Sophie Bell of Umdloti will count her long trip from KZN to the Western Cape a success as she won both the U16 and U14 titles at the event. The SA Under 15 Champion beat fellow Umdloti surfer Cana Foster into second place in the U16 Division with Pippa Jones taking third and Michelle Verreynne of Victoria Bay ending in fourth spot. In the U14 final Bell overcame an interference penalty to take the win ahead of her good friend Olivia Izzard of La Lucia. Sarah Ingram of Constantia was third and Nina Harmse of Herolds Bay was fourth.
The Final of the U16 Girls Division of the postponed Surf 4 Life contest was also held during this event and the winner of the all Southern Cape affair was Nina Harmse of Herolds Bay. Michelle Verreynne of Victoria Bay came second, Taghiti Gericke of Wilderness was third and Kayla Verreynne of Victoria Bay was fourth.
The Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge is the only stand alone women’s event held in South Africa and is run for women by women. It attracted an entry of 41 surfers from all along the South African coast and despite having to cope with tough Long Beach surf and bad mannered non contestants on Day One of the competition all of the participants acquitted themselves with dignity and style.
The same could not be said for the disrespectful surfers who spent the better part of Saturday intimidating the contestants in their heats. This selfish behaviour left a sour taste in the mouth of the majority of the people at the event and embarrassed Surfing South Africa.
It was a slap in the face of the sponsors and the organisers and was a disgraceful display of bad behaviour by a disrespectful minority.
Heart warming support from local longboarders and surfers on the final day of competition saw the Women’s event concluded in smaller but less hostile conditions.
The Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge was presented by Surfing South Africa and supported by a grant from Sport and Recreation South Africa. The application for the event to take place at Long Beach was granted by the City of Cape Town.
Results of the finals and photos are available on www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za
Surfing South Africa is the governing body for the sport and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).