Quintin van Jaarsveld
There was double delight for South Coast legend Heather Clark at the Lizzard Hurricane KwaZulu-Natal Surfing Championships held at Bronze Beach, Umhlanga at the weekend.
A 2018 record 170 of the province’s premier wave-riders – ranging from Under-10 to over 55 from Ugu, eThekwini, iLembe and King Cetshwayo – competed for individual and team honours over two days.
Surfers had their work cut out for them on Day One as they were met by testing northeast conditions. Competitors were made to work hard and those who advanced to Day Two were rewarded with gentle south-westerly winds and contestable conditions.
Port Shepstone great Clark showed no signs of slowing down as she retained her open ladies crown and doubled up by clinching the masters ladies title on finals day on Sunday.
“I’m thrilled to have ended the year by winning back-to-back finals,” said Clark after once again spearheading Ugu Surfriders’ surge.
“Thank you to my wife for all the endless support, love and calming words throughout the long days on the beach and my family and friends for always cheering me on and for being so awesome.
“Thanks to all my sponsors – Safari Surfboards, Lizzy, Hurricane Surf, Maisch Fins and Gul for all their support over the years. I truly do appreciate it all.
“Well done to everyone who surfed; the conditions were tricky, but there was some amazing surfing going down!”
It was déjà vu for Clark’s protégé as well, as Mayah Potgieter retained her Under-12 girls title.
The South Coast grom, now representing iLembe, was the first full-time student at Clark’s surf school and made her mentor proud.
“I’m so stoked to be standing up here a year later, sharing a special moment with my little surf buddy, ‘Smurf.’ I am so proud of her! The long sessions and perseverance has paid off,” commented Clark.
Two other Ugu surfers were crowned KwaZulu-Natal champions as Gary van Wieringen won the Over-35 men’s title and little Louise Lepront claimed the Under-10 girls title.
Ugu produced seven additional finalists.
Llewellyn Engelbrecht finished fourth in the Under-10 boys division, Under-12 boys competitors Evan Peyios and Luc Lepront placed third and fourth respectively and Caden Coetsee came fourth in the Under-16 boys division.
The Ugu ladies also represented, with Jesse Powell just missing out on the Under-16 crown and Maya Attfield finishing behind her in third position, while Nicole Jansen van Vuuren finished third in the masters final.
iLembe crowned two other champions with Cooper Lee Smith and Andrew Banks bagging the Under-10 boys and Over-45 men’s honours respectively.
eThekwini surfers swept the remaining titles, with Chad du Toit (open men’s), Nate Colby (Under-12), James Ribbink (Under-14), Kayla Noguira (Under-16 girls), Sophie Bell (Under-16 and Under-18 girls), Karl Steen (Under-18) and Chris Knutsen (Over-55) all triumphing.
eThekwini (22170) subsequently clinched he coveted District Trophy ahead of the three smaller districts. iLembe (8750) finished second, Ugu (5590) third and King Cetshwayo (670) fourth.
iLembe’s Over-35 men’s finalist Ian Duff was named Surfer of the Contest.
“Ian came out of obscurity and was consistent over the two days. He made it through to the final and at one point I thought, if he had had another wave, he possibly could have won the final,” said commentator Greg Swart.
The former Championship Tour campaigner said the provincial championships was a smashing success with surfers once again raising the bar.
“The standard of surfing was excellent. There’s been a definite growth in surfing, especially amongst the Under-12 boys and girls from last year.
“It was a great event all-round. A lot of factors came together – the weather on the final day, the organisation and the intensity that everybody brought to the contest.”