Quintin van Jaarsveld
After four long years, the South Coast Classic returned with a bang at Lucien last week.
Shelved due to a lack of sponsorship, the competition was successfully revived by the committed Southern KwaZulu-Natal Bodyboarding Association (SKZNBA) committee with 40 of South Africa’s best bodyboarders vying for supremacy.
The contest was the fourth stop of the South African Bodyboarding Association tour and culminated after two days of top-notch riding.
Riders were treated to two-to-three-foot waves and pulled out all the stops with an array of exciting aerial moves and slick technical skills.
Margate star Dune Barker showed why he’s the current South African men’s and dropknee champion as well as the defending national tour champion in the same divisions by taking out both divisions.
Fellow locals Codi Butterworth (junior), reigning South African boys and national boys tour champion Alex Nutt (boys) and Jade Pistorius (development) ruled their respective divisions, while Mike van Huyssteen, David Bruce and Sarah Houston won the grand masters, masters and ladies divisions respectively.
The much-anticipated pro final fittingly saw two Southern KwaZulu-Natal stars go head-to-head as Rory Fellows-Smith took on good friend Terence Pieters.
The duo went tit-for-tit in an intense and tightly contested decider and in the end, it was Marilla Surf and Sniper RSA rider Fellows-Smith (pictured) who pipped Pieters to the crown.
“Taking the win feels amazing,” Warner Beach-based Fellows-Smith, who also finished second in the dropknee division, told eHowzit.
“I’ve grown up on this coast as part of Southern KZN Bodyboarding, watching masters of the sport compete to win this title, and have always wanted to etch my name onto this trophy. I’m so grateful for all the support I get from my family, friends and sponsors.
“Having the right equipment and the best people backing you in every corner really adds to your performance and passion for your sport.”
It was a watershed win for the 31-year-old, whose previous best result was taking pro bronze in last year’s South African Championships in Richards Bay, and couldn’t have come at a better venue he said.
“My semi-final heat against Henry [le Roux] was really fun; every move I made, he answered back with a move of the same calibre, and I couldn’t have asked for a better final against Terence, who’s incredible in the surf.
“Big ups to all the competitors for a great contest. It ran quite smoothly and it’s been a fun two days on the beach. Watching some of the guys and girls shred was awesome. Competing against the pro riders on our home turf is always fun and it’s great to hang out and soak up the sun with some amazing people.”
He lauded the return of the contest, saying, “It’s amazing to have the South Coast Classic back as it was always a highlight on the SABA circuit for a lot of competitors. I hope with continued support from our locals and sponsors that the contest returns on a more permanent basis.”
Maria Pistorius, chairperson of SKZNBA, commented, “It’s been an absolutely awesome event. It’s great to have an event on the KZN South Coast as this allows our local riders an opportunity to showcase their talent and get to be rated on the SA circuit.
“We’re very happy with the turnout considering it’s during the week. We’re particularly happy to see new young riders getting involved and we hope with the help of more local businesses to keep the event running annually.
“We’d like to thank Mr Danie de Kok for the use of his flat, Bianca for the officials’ accommodation, Van Heerden Letting, ATKV Drakensville Resort, Drop and Wash Car Wash, Cock and Tail, Africa Organic, Marilla Surf and Tiago’s.”
Fellows-Smith’s win saw him move into second place and edge closer to pro tour leader and former national champion Storm Prestwich – who was knocked out in the quarter-finals at Lucien – while his runner-up result in the dropknee division means he leads the tour standings with one round to go.
Barker (men’s), Olivia Reitz (ladies), Leon Nel (grand masters), Bruce (masters), Butterworth (junior), Nutt (boys) and Pistorius (development) are the other division leaders heading into the tour finale in Port Alfred.