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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 24 October 2017

The first SUP surfing foil heat in Africa was held this weekend at the Mistral South African Standup Paddleboard Championships in Muizenberg, writes Melissa Volker.


FRICK FOILING: Dylan Frick in the first heat of its kind in Africa. Photo Anna-Marie Steyn Frick

On the same day (Saturday) stand up paddlers like Kai Lenny, Ryan Funk and Casper Steinfath competed in the Red Bull Heavy Water at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. There was controversy leading up to that event. Women paddlers were not invited. This sparked an uproar, spearheaded by #IPaddleForEquality. The organisers belatedly reached out to women, but three days was never enough time. Neither was it considered professional.

Back at Muizenberg and its environs, however, no hashtag was required. SUPSA put on an inclusive #IPaddleForEqualityevent. The SUP controlling body is ahead of the game in gender equality. SUP champion Tarryn King, who is on maternity leave, says South Africa offers equal SUP prize money - way ahead of many international sports.

“It is slowly starting to change internationally, not only with prize money, but also with ISA world champs", with men and women also equally represented in national teams, she says.


FOILED AGAIN: The SUP foilers head out for their historic heat. Photo Anna-Marie Steyn Frick

The Championships kicked off on Friday afternoon at Zandvlei with a fiercely contested technical race. Aggressive buoy turns and hard sprints made for a tight tussle between Tatum Prins, Khara Doyle and Lizanie Teron, but Tatum was first over the finish line in the women’s event. Dylan Frick out-manoeuvred Tom King to win the men’s race.

After a 15 minute breather, the long distance race got underway. In this discipline, as with the technical race, 14 foot boards are the craft of choice. Dylan Frick powered through the 6.6 km route around the marina, winning the men’s event just ahead of Tom King.

Tatum Prins and Khara Doyle again set the pace in the women’s event, with Tatum putting in a strong finish for the win.


STOKED ON SALT: The wahines celebrate the joys of SUPping Muizies. Photo Supplied

You only have to watch clips on Kookslams to see how hard stand up paddling can be. On Saturday morning, the usual Muizenberg crowd graciously shifted from Surfer’s Corner to make way for increasingly more accomplished stand up paddlers, as gentle 2-3 foot lines gently rolled through glassy seas. There was no Lesser Spotted Ballie Fish to tackle Dylan Frick this year, although there were a few unsolicited cameo performances from a guy on a waveski.

After the open men’s and women’s heats, the crowd was entertained by the first foil surfing heat on the African continent. The athletes could choose to surf either a SUP or surfboard but the event was won by Melkbos prodigy, Nathan Van Vuuren, on a stand up paddle board.

Xpression on the Beach make a concerted effort to draw women to stand up paddling by offering accessible coaching opportunities in the flat water and wave-riding disciplines. Coaching these women as a group of Wahines gives them a safe space to learn, without fear of embarrassment or injury.


FRICK AHEAD: Dylan pulls clear of the pelaton in the SUP race. Photo Anna-Marie Steyn Frick

A moderate to fresh cross shore wind came up by midday, putting a chop on the water, which makes it a bit tricky on a SUP. The swell also picked up a bit and a few challenging sets started rolling in just in time for the XOTB’s Wahines social heats.

The fear was palpable on the beach and the carnage in the midbreak was hard to watch. But giving up is not on the Xpression coaching agenda. Despite wind that made it almost impossible for them to stand up, those brave women kept going and caught and surfed waves. “I did it, I did it,” shouted one Wahine as she came in after the heat.

In the Open Women’s final, Gabi Lupini and Khara Doyle made the best of the tricky seas, but twins Penny Stemmet and Tammy Foster were on fire. Penny took the win over her sister by half a point. In the Open Men’s final, Tom King’s powerful surfing held off Nathan Van Vuuren, Dylan Frick and Matt Maxwell to take the champion’s trophy.

Full results at https://www.liveheats.com/events/295/spectate

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