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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Fri, 25 March 2016

Renowned South African sculptor and passionate surfer David Brown died doing what he loved at Muizenberg a week ago. He was surfing, writes Spike.


WIDE STANCE: The engine driver could be surfing. 

DavidBrown-in-his-studioIt is believed that Brown, 64, had a heart attack while waiting for a wave in the backline at Surfer's Corner on Friday. Standup paddler Brigette Van Aswegen wrote on Facebook that a "vigilant shortboarder" had seen someone "off his board and face down in the water".

The surfer had turned him onto his back and tried to paddle him to shore, but it was heavy going in a 3-4' south swell running in the bay. Van Aswegen had tried to raise the alarm on the beach but realised it would be quicker to bring him ashore on her paddleboard.

Lifeguards administered CPR to Brown, who was unconscious, but he could not be resuscitated.

"He peacefully passed away doing what I can only assume he love, like us, surfing," Van Aswegen wrote.

Brown, who had taught sculpture at Ruth Prowse art school, was a keen surfer who loved riding waves, particularly at Muizenberg Corner. Born in Johannesburg, his work is well known for strong political satire and commentary, and the use of dogs as symbols of helplessness and aggression.

He leaves his wife, Professor Pippa Skotnes, a lecturer at UCT and daughter of the acclaimed Cecil Skotnes, and their son, Jules.

Prof Skotnes wrote me a message: "Dear Spike, you and the wind and wave reports have been part of my life for years. I am not a surfer but David has surfed since the early 1970s. The sea was a place of freedom for him and my small comfort was that he died doing something he loved, alone but not alone, and part of something magnificent."

His friend Howard Stasin added: "Dave surfed as a 20 year old student before I knew him. He used to mention the old days of no wetsuits, no leashes and wooden boards. He drifted out of surfing when he had to concentrate on his career, but I reintroduced him to it about 15 years ago.

"He just loved the ocean, and the wilder the better. We would often go out in a howling storm with no real waves just to experience the thrill of being thrown about by the ocean and meeting forces bigger than our puny efforts.

"We would paddle for hours trying to get to the back line, and then if we finally got there we would sit just absorbing the moment with the wind, the rain, the swell the seagulls screaming at us. Paradise."

"Dave was very taken by Shaun Tompson's Surfers Code, and he would never never paddle back to shore. We had to get a wave back in, no matter how long we had to wait.

"He really used Wavescape a lot, his wife used to joke that she shared her morning bed with you, because the first thing Dave would do in the morning was go to Wavescape and check out the surf.

"He will be sorely missed. I will be having a paddle out for him in the next few weeks and I would appreciate it if you could publicise it for us closer to the time."

RIP David Brown.


Grant Renecle
+2 #3 MrGrant Renecle 2016-03-30 07:21
Man what a great Guy!! I'm a stand up surfer and saw him often !! Did not know his name or a thing about him ! BUT he had the most sincere smiles and surf greetings EVERY time we saw each other!!
What a great Human being! Very sad I never new you David ! RIP
Jason Janks
0 #2 JasonJason Janks 2016-03-25 10:29
The surfer who helped bring him in is Adam Greeblo (Greeny)
Jason Janks
+3 #1 JasonJason Janks 2016-03-25 10:22
Thank you for this. I was in the beach with Bridgette, her daughter and a handful of other surfers and friends when David passed.
I didn't know him personally, but remember seeing him out there almost every time I've been over the last few years. He always had a smile on his face and I have said to my friends in the past 'I hope I'm still surfing when I'm a ballie like that guy'.
Thank you to the surfers that day for showing care for each other.
Bridgette and Greeny for bringing him and alerting the life guards.

It is important to mention that the first oxygen tank that was brought to the beach was empty. A few of the other tanks brought afterwards were empty too. I cannot personally say if it would have made a difference or not,but I think that, at a beach like muizi with so many people in the water every day, proper emergency medical equipment is crucial.

My condolences to his family and friends. RIP David Brown
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