Quintin van Jaarsveld
The best bodyboarders in the region rose to the occasion in the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Bodyboarding Championships at Lucien on Sunday.
Epic action unfolded as 25 wave-riders vied for Southern KwaZulu-Natal supremacy across six divisions.
Conditions were challenging, however, the more experienced competitors were able to adapt while rookies soon found their rhythm as well.
The riveting regional championships had it all – from a triumphant homecoming and title retentions to new champions being crowned.
The pro division didn’t disappoint as the cream of the crop went head-to-head for the most coveted prize in Southern KwaZulu-Natal bodyboarding.
In the end, it was the sweetest of victories for Terence Pieters, who overcame an 18-week injury-enforced lay-off and Wayne Smith, Neil Smith and Wesley Coetzee in the final to clinch his third pro title.
The former Uvongo ace, who relocated to Cape Town in 2014, recently returned to the South Coast to undergo shoulder surgery and couldn’t have hoped for a better comeback, showing surprisingly little competitive wave-riding rust.
“It feels so ‘lekka’ to come out on top and be my home town’s champion, especially given what I’ve gone through,” Pieters told eHowzit.
“Thanks to Reef Wetsuits South Africa for all the help they’ve given me for the last couple of years. It really takes your boarding to next levels when you have a great brand backing you.”
Pieters, who also has a couple of regional dropknee titles to his name, said he was impressed with the high standard of riding and said catching up with locals have been great.
“These guys froth harder on bodyboarding than anywhere else, which is great to see. The standard of riding here is nothing less than amazing.
“It’s so good seeing everyone pushing everyone to their full potential, and as the wave was quite heavy with extremely hard paddles, it was good to see every division make efforts to get out to the back, even the young boys division and ladies – it was definitely not easy.
“The vibe on the beach is great too. I love how everyone’s friends with everyone, no-one’s in a bad mood or too serious; everyone’s just here to have a good day of riding waves and hanging with mates.”
Despite his successful comeback, the 24-year-old doesn’t see himself competing in too many contests this year. Like many others, Pieters has become more of a free surfer than a contest rider.
He finished second in the African leg of the Free Surf World Tour – in which hand-picked contestants have one month to document themselves bodyboarding and condense it into a one-minute highlight reel for subscribers to vote for – prior to his shoulder injury, however, for him, the stoke of free surfing supersedes the most prestigious of titles.
“I prefer looking for different waves where contests wouldn’t usually be held. I’m going to be doing a lot more international trips and experiencing different waves and cultures.
“I’ll be looking to get videos out and try to get into the local magazines and feature on international bodyboarding platforms.”
The ladies division featured a number of fresh faces, which made for intriguing and compelling competition.
Kara Wickins and Renee Beetge had strong showings but they were unable to unseat 2015 South African ladies tour champion Skye Bothma, who made it back-to-back regional titles.
Rory Fellows-Smith scooped the dropknee title after staving off Wayne Smith, Dane Klusener and Jamie Rademeyer in the decider, while Scott Getkate got past Rademeyer and Heino Nel to claim the masters crown.
With 11 riders in the division, the junior title was anyone’s for the taking.
Reece Hargreaves seemed the hungriest of the competitors and came away with the win over Martin Grobler, Codi Butterworth and Aaron Broom in the final, while James Commarmond beat Jade Pistorius for the boys title.
Maria Pistorius expressed her satisfaction with the event, her first as the new Southern KwaZulu-Natal Bodyboarding Association chairperson.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing day. Everyone had great fun out there and the turnout is great,” she told eHowzit.
“The up-and-coming juniors showed off loads of talent and it was by far the biggest division of the day. We could run two rounds; semi-finals and a final.
“It was very exciting to see Aaron, who’s a newcomer to contest riding, win his semi-final and place fourth in the final.
“We’re very happy to see some new faces in the ladies division as well. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Kara, who’s the sports coach for Kingsway High, for bringing some of her student to come and enter the champs. We look forward to having them at all our Blowout and SKZN events.
“A big thanks to Marilla Surf for their sponsorship of cash prize money for the winners of each division and for supplying great banners, and to the Marilla team riders for coming to support SKZN.
“Thanks to all the riders who drove from Durban and surrounding areas, leaving early this morning to arrive on time to start the day, and a special thanks to Wesley for swimming out with seven-year-old Jade, who was so stoked to be able to enter.
“Then to the eHowzit team – thanks to Lencel and Bev for coming to spend some time on the beach with us and shooting some footage of the riders and to Quintin, for always being the number one reporter on all and every event and covering other news on South Coast bodyboarders.
“Thanks to Simon Heale Photography for the awesome photo he sent for us to use on our winners’ certificates, and to Jacques Grobler from Sky Surfer Photography, not only for the photo he sent for us to use on the second to fourth place certificates but for spending his day in the wind and sun taking pics of the bodyboarders.
“He never misses a contest and shares his photos with love, so on behalf of every bodyboarder, I’d like to thank him for the photos he takes and shares with us.
“With the champs done and dusted, we now look forward to Blowout Bodyboarding Club contests to begin. We’ll also be seeing some of our riders off to the Cape to take part in the upcoming SABA events, and as soon as they return, we’ll start our trials for this year’s Southern KZN team selection for the SA Champs at Onrus, Hermanus in October.”
Photos by Sky Surfer Photography
1st Terence Pieters
2nd Wayne Smith (Marilla Surf Team Rider)
3rd Neil Smith (Marilla Surf Team Rider)
4th Wesley Coetzee
1st Skye Bothma (Marilla Surf Team Rider)
2nd Kara Wickins
3rd Renee Beetge
1st Rory Fellows-Smith (Marilla Surf Team Rider)
2nd Wayne Smith (Marilla Surf Team Rider)
3rd Dane Klusener
4th Jamie Rademeyer
1st Scott Getkate
2nd Jamie Rademeyer
3rd Heino Nel
1st Reece Hargreaves
2nd Martin Grobler
3rd Codi Butterworth
4th Aaron Broom
1st James Commarmond
2nd Jade Pistorius