Storm Prestwich. (Graeme Cox)
Top bodyboarders will be hitting the surf at Suncoast, vying for the top spot as the Durban Lizzard Classic in association with Suncoast takes over the waves from 25 to 26 June.
“We are excited to be bringing a contest of this magnitude to the KwaZulu-Natal shores,” said Olivia Reitz, event organiser and one of South Africa’s top seeded bodyboarders.
“It has been years since Durban hosted any bodyboarding competition so we are anticipating a lot of interest in the inaugural Durban Lizzard Classic.”
Organised by Lizzard and the eThekwini Bodyboarding Association, the Classic is rated as a 5A bodyboarding event, so competitors can look forward to earning several points which will go towards the circuit campaign. This also means that the open pro’s division will be offered a R14 500 cash prize, shared among the top spots.
In addition to the open pro’s division, competitors can enter the boys’ division (14 and under), the junior division (15 to 17 years), the men’s or ladies’ division (18 to 30 years), the master’s division (30 to 45 years) and the grand master’s division (45 years and over) as well as the development rider’s category (first-time competitors).
“We really want to encourage development riders to come and compete in a non-threatening environment, under supervision from more experienced riders,” explained Reitz.
“Bodyboarding is such a great way to enjoy a fun activity while celebrating a healthy lifestyle. For younger riders, getting into the sport also means staying away from more negative distractions.”
Reitz said that, through this event, they were pushing to get interest in bodyboarding from a grassroots level, with an aim to grow the sport nationally.
“As it stands, the world number one bodyboarder, Jared Houston, is a South African so there is definitely a lot more focus on the sport. We really want to develop this interest because it is such an amazing activity for all ages.”
This illustrious event will be attracting some of South Africa’s top bodyboarders including top South African competitor, Mark McCarthy.
Commenting on the upcoming Durban Lizzard Classic, McCarthy said: “I’m super pumped to see Durban back on the bodyboarding calendar! It was 15 years ago that I entered my first national bodyboarding event in Durban. Durban has been the bodyboarding hub for many years, producing so many South African champs, including two times world champ, Andre Botha.”
McCarthy won the previous Durban-based bodyboarding competition in 2010, the SA Bodyboarding Champs at Suncoast Beach, and is thrilled to be participating at the same location for this year’s Durban Lizzard Classic.
“With bodyboarding being such a popular sport, combined with Durban’s amazing year-round summer climate, it really is the perfect place to bodyboard. From just catching foamies in the shorebreak to riding the bigger waves out the back, bodyboarding is a perfect way to connect with the warm Indian Ocean.”
Many riders consider Durban their ‘home break’ including Michael Ostler (2015 Tand Invitation Champ, second in SA Champs), and Stephen du Preez (2014 SA Champ). Rory Fellow-Smith, who fared well at the recent Boland Champs, is also another top rider to watch out for that weekend.
“This event will attract some of South Africa’s best riders. I’m really looking forward to the contest and having a full dig at winning the Durban Lizzard Classic 2016.”
There will also be a number of top seeded South African ladies competing in the event including Pamela Bowren (SA national team), Sarah Houston (SA Champs 2014 winner), Margate’s Skye Bothma (defending SABA circuit winner) and always a tough contender, Debbie Patterson.
The event will run from 7am to 5pm on both days with the various divisions participating in time slots which will be based on the current surf conditions. The prizegiving will take place immediately after the last heat on Sunday, 26 June, on Suncoast Beach.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the open pro’s division top spots as well as winners of the juniors, men’s and drop-knee divisions. The remaining divisions will receive product prizes worth thousands from the various sponsors including Lizzard, The Surveillance Factory, The Surf HQ, Sammi Gomez Handcrafted Eyewear, Savior Brand, Holmes Bros and Maniac Ltd. The winner of the junior division will receive automatic entry into the illustrious Cave Rock International 2016.
Suncoast Casino will be providing a PA system for the judges, as well as to ensure that there is a fantastic vibe on the beachfront with Deon ‘Mumbles’ Meyers on the mic as MC to keep the crowds entertained.
For more information or to enter, visit the ‘Durban Lizzard Classic’ Facebook page.