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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 13 June 2016

An elated Steve 'Steezy' Sawyer is recovering from a moerse party after winning the JBU Supertrial presented by RVCA. Sandy Coffey catches up with him as the reality sinks in.


HAPPY DAYS: Steve Sawyer after winning the event. Portrait by Sandy Coffey

Steezy, it’s one day after you won the Jbay Super Trial (and the first time a goofy footer has won). I can see that smile on your face a mile off. Tell us about it?

Ah man, probably the best win of my life. Definitely the best win of my life. I thought I was coming third, even after I caught that last wave in the dying minutes of the finals. And it was only when I got to the beach and there were photographers all around, that I kind of realised I had won. I couldn’t believe it. It took a few hours to sink in and I am still thinking - wow, I actually won. Its been a dream of mine for so long. ]

Take us through that last wave?

I went all out - I knew I had nothing to lose so I gave it everything I had left, to that last second. I took off and was busy bottom turning to hit the top and I thought the lip was fading away so I tried to go more and more vertical to try and get back into the lip, and I ended up cracking it, thinking I was going to get stuck. But luckily not, and then I pulled into the barrel. I then saw the second section starting to close out, not thinking i could make it around the face, so I pulled through the doggy doorof the first barrel. Then I got closed out. I can remember every second of that wave.

Strategy for the Jbay Open?

I just have to be on it. Completely on it. I have a month and a few days so will make sure all the controllable are controlled. I'll be surfing a lot between now and then. And then I have to hand it over to God and the waves and ocean on that particular day.

You are having an incredible period of success. Winning SA Longboarding Champs and now this. Is your life dream coming true?

Yeah, things are really happening and every day I am starting to figure out new things, learn new things. I am so enjoying the process of it all. Everyday I get an opportunity to become better at what I love doing.


LONGBOARD CHAMP: Sawyer won the SA Longboard Champs. Photo Riaan Human

Where and when and who were you with on your first wave ever?

My first wave I remember was with some Canadian friends of mine that lived up the road from me, surfing main beach, it was a right hander. I took off and the inside rail of the board hooked and just held such a perfect line down to the close-out section where I then tried pulling off and the lip ended up hitting my ankles and I kinda did like this superman/belly flop off the back of the wave.

Living in Jbay ... ?

... has its ups and downs but the ups completely outweigh the downs. Depending on how you look at it. I see it as being lucky to live here.

Because ... ?

... we have the most amazing waves mostly uncrowded but when it's crowded it's a circus. We don't have a nightlife scene unless it's the peak of season. It's rad, I probably prefer it this way but the downside is not much gigging and jamming happening which is my main source of income.

Your surfing hero and why?

Andy irons, powerful / graceful style and pure passion.

Best wave ever? Where and when?

Probably surfing in Angola. The most insane wave, I'd rate it's better than Namibia to an extent ... Left handers! (I grew up on backhand point breaks) Barrels, hacks, carves, snaps and airs. The waves are limitless. And no one there to surf with other than the people you go with. And the fishing that side is sooo so good!


BARREL HUNTER: Sawyer is one of few who really surf Supers well. Photo AVG

Fantasy surf holiday and with who?

My dad. I'd love to go to the Maldives with my ballie. He rips when he surfs, he just doesn't do much of it LOL. He's just into his board building.


Automatically comes with a smile. Every Time I surf my longboard I can't help but have a Lekka surf. It's just the whole vibe Longboarding comes with, it's not unbeatable, it's just something magical as it is on its own.

Tell us about your recent longboarding championship win at SA Champs?

Wow, that week was an emotional roller coaster ride! I learnt some valuable things about myself and how to handle my competitive instincts. I am super grateful to have won the SA's title, it meant a lot to me. Third time lucky??

Whats the deal with longboarding? Is it becoming a hipster movement?

It carries the original soul of surfing, it's all about the effortless movement and balance with style.

What you want to achieve in the next 5 years?

I'd like to keep traveling the world using my music to financially support my surfing habits. And I've been enjoying shaping boards with my dad. It would be awesome to inherit all his knowledge. Im in Jbay to learn as much as I can from him. He has so much depth and experience.


WALLED UP: Nothing like Supers as the canvas to draw your lines on. Photo AVG

Must be great to be around and spend time with your mom (Cara) and your Dad (Des)?

I am so grateful to them both for all their support and love. It makes all the difference in the world.

You also a talented muso. Tell us about how this all started?

I started playing music when I was about 9/10 years old. Round about the same time I started surfing, maybe a few months after. And I'd never be able to choose one over the other. Love them both just as much as eachother.

Your long hair has become your trademark. Ever going to cut it?

I wouldn't say trademark but it's nearly at its ends length. I've contemplated shaving it so many times, but it's taken a while to get it this long I think I'll push it out a little longer and then make the cut.


Still never had a girlfriend. I'm on too much of a solo mission, I enjoy being the lone lion too much, this stage of my life.

What does surfing mean to you?

Surfing is one of the few things, I truly love. Surfing is a great release, sometimes I prefer surfing alone, and sometimes I enjoy surfing with other people. It's forever changing so you can't possible get bored and it will forever be evolving too. 

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