21 June, 2014 21 June, 2014

When Surfing Is All You’ve Got – by Bianca Van Aardt

Life couldn’t get much better, she thought, until a Grade 7 discovery opened up a whole new world. This story by Bianca Van Aardt is another rad entry into our Write to Surf competition, which has some great prizes up for grabs (see below for details).




It must have been close to school holidays, because while the Grade 2 kiddies were watching The Sound of Music in class, the Grade 7 Prefects were summoned to help out with paper recycling.

As we threw heaps of old text books, tests and exercise books in the big orange recycling bin, I noticed a magazine between the soon-to-be paper waste. As a 12 year-old living on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal I’d never imagined life could get any better, but that was about to change.

The cover was badly ripped and the pages had been cut up. Clearly someone only used it to get some cool photos and brand names for their Space Case. I had never seen something like it before. Guys riding waves on boards. Surfing. That’s what this glossy book is apparently all about. That, and girls in bikinis. Gasp! I wasn’t sure of the discovery I’d made, but I decided to save the magazine from the recycling bin and claim it for myself.

Guys riding waves on boards…

Back in class I studied the pages, turning slowly and becoming increasingly mad at whoever had thought it was a good idea to cut out the Rusty logo rather than save the mind-blowing picture at the back. Some intense research had to be done. I read the magazine, looked at the ads and pictures and I knew I had to find out more about surfing. I still didn’t really know what it was, I just knew I wanted to do it.

A month or two later I got my own brand new Zigzag as a gift. I was transported to another world, of which I dreamed night after night. Almost two years later I would (after much deliberation and irritation) get to learn to surf at an event down at Suncoast beach in Durban. That was it. Hook, line and sinker.

After that I got a second hand board – a Johno Hutchison that was way too advanced for me. Another miracle was that my mom actually let us surf all alone at Suncoast once or twice a week. She only did it because she could tan on grass and not sand. She’s not a fan of the beach.


But then my dream world came crashing down. From learning to surf to stuck in Pretoria for the next three years. Following that I was relegated to Potchefstroom for studies and eventually started work in Johannesburg. I was shattered, but the passion for surfing never disappeared. It only grew stronger with each new issue of Zigzag, each new burst of knowledge about riding waves, and each new sticker, poster or free DVD.

More than ten years after catching that first wave, I’m permanently back in Durban with one goal in mind – to surf, and to do it bloody well. I can’t help but think to myself where I would be today if I hadn’t found that Zigzag back in 2003. Surfing, even though I haven’t been able to surf for all those years, has paved the way I want to live my life. I knew I had to do whatever I could to get back to the ocean and onto a surfboard.

I just know that surfing is what I should do. Fuck, I even resigned my decent, permanent job because they wanted me to move back to head office in Joburg and I just refused. It’s not an ideal situation to be unemployed at 23 after having a good job, but whenever I’m in the water it feels like everything will work out just fine. Surfing is the one thing that’s kept me alive and sane all this time and I will forever be grateful for that discovery at school.

When surfing is all you’ve got…

Click here to check out all the entries so far >>


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.


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