Quintin van Jaarsveld
Claire Haskins has continued her love affair with longboarding by competing in two of the most prestigious competitions in the country.
The Southbroom surfer particiated in the KwaZulu-Natal Longboard Championships at Dairy Beach, Durban on Saturday, where she showcased the skills that saw her bag a bronze medal in the national championships in Lamberts Bay earlier this year.
“Longboard competitions are always fun and relaxed” Haskins told eHowzit.
“I really enjoyed the KZN Champs because the conditions were good, especially on the higher tide, which is when we surfed. The only pity was that there weren’t many juniors and only two Under-16 girls.”
The Creston College grade 10 learner also recently made her debut in the Cobbles Classic, a true throwback event in which competitors surf on a log – a traditional longboard with a single fin, thick rails and no leash.
It’s the purest form of wave-riding, how the sport itself originated centuries ago, and Haskins said she relished the format.
Surfing on a borrowed 9’2 log weighing at least six kilograms took some getting used to, as the South Coaster usually shreds on a nine-foot Clayton performance longboard – a lighter, much faster board with a three-fin thruster set-up that makes for easier turns.
The contest at Cobbles Point was also the 16-year-old’s first open competition. The rising star made quite a statement against her older and more experienced competitors, advancing all the way to the final, where she finished in an impressive fourth place.
Haskins, whose an equally capable shortboard rider, said the old school contest was undoubtedly the highlight of her longboarding career to date.
“The Cobbles Classic was highly enjoyable and such a relaxed event,” she said.
“When I first heard about it, I wanted to enter but at the same time, I was quite nervous because I’d have to enter the Open Division and surf against women of all ages.
“I was very grateful that Ryan Anderson from Loggers Union allowed me to borrow one of his logs. Luckily I was able to practice on the board before the competition because it’s slightly more difficult to turn and it took time getting used to surfing without a leash.
“It was so refreshing to go to a competition where everyone supported each other and they made me feel so welcome even though I was the youngest female competitor. It was definitely my favourite competition yet and I can’t wait to do it next year again.”
The talented teen spoke passionately about longboarding, saying, “It’s all about having style and doing everything gracefully, all the while walking to the nose of your board and back. It’s a wonderful feeling catching a wave and forgetting about everything while just being in the moment.
“A big thanks to Heather Clark for her coaching and to Kyle Maher, who inspired me to begin longboarding and for coaching and encouraging me on this journey.”
She now turn her focus to making the KwaZulu-Natal longboarding team again, and will be working hard ahead of the first trial in November.