Action from a demanding surfboard competition where KZN’s Marine Lifesaving Club dominated between men and women. (Photo: Anthony Grote)
KwaZulu-Natal Marine men and women took on the surfing challenge and overcame the elements to win the Wimpy Surf Boat event of the DHL Lifesaving South African National Championships at Gqeberha.
Spanning nine heats over three days, the Surf Boat event is one of the most spectacular life-saving events in surfing, and one of the most difficult to navigate, negotiate and master.
The objective is to paddle through the waves in an 8-meter fiberglass rowboat, then turn around to bring the waves back to shore. The first boat to return to the beach wins.
If it sounds simplistic or reads as a fact, it’s quite the opposite, and you need a special kind of lifesaver to attend this event.
Talking to veterans of the sport, they tell me that the “boat” must be fit, strong and have some serious guts.
With a crew of five, the sweep stands behind the boat and is steered using long oars. Her four other members of the crew paddle the boat through the waves and bring them back to shore.
The history of surfboards dates back to the days when most salvage was done this way. With progress came motorized boats and jet skis, making wooden boats unnecessary for sea rescue.
The competitive sport continued with a surf boat event, but the event was discontinued in South Africa and reintroduced among men in 2018, with two female crews competing against men in 2019.
Six men’s and three women’s teams competed this week, splitting the winners of the men’s and women’s championships.
In the men’s division, Marine B won 40 points from 9 races, Blue Water Bay was second with 36 points and Marine A was third with 35 points.
In the women’s division it was the opposite, with Marine A finishing first on 27 points, comfortably ahead of Blue Water Bay (16) and Marine B by 11 points.
Clifton seniors and juniors performed well in surf events, with the Cape-based club winning both divisions and crowned DHL Lifesaving SA National Club Champions.
Surf’s junior and open divisions have some standout performers, and these seniors and juniors will transfer their skill sets to the pool for the rest of the week.
Nippers will take to surfing to win a national championship, but the young South Africans have shown how bright the future of saving lives in South Africa looks with a record-breaking 25 swims at the Nippers Pool Championships. Only those who have 1st The place earned new SA records, with seven new individual national records and six new national team records.
Among national record-breakers, none was more impressive than 13-year-old Harty’s Club athlete Christian Van Eden. He owned his 100 Super Nippers, 100 Finned Mannequins and performed in the 100 Rescue Medley.