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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Fri, 9 March 2018

Plans to grow surfing in Africa, as well as the addition of longboarding and more WSL Qualifying Series points on offer, were recently announced at the launch of the six-event City Surf Series.


THREE OF A KIND: Steve Sawyer, Crystal Hulett and Angelo Faulkner. Photo Jacqueline Herbst

The second edition of the City Surf Series (CSS), presented by Hurley, was launched in Nelson Mandela Bay last week where the addition of the inaugural Port Alfred Classic was announced. The Kowie event will also host men’s and women’s QS Longboarding, with these disciplines also added to the last event of the series, the Volkswagen SA of Surfing presented by Hurley.

To take advantage of the best conditions of the year, the CSS festival of surfing will run from April to June, starting with the VW Nelson Mandela Bay Surf presented by Billabong from 30 March to 2 April, which has been upgraded to a QS1,500.

Also, the VW SA Open of Surfing women’s event has been upgraded to a QS3000 to make it the biggest women’s QS in Africa in a bid to attract the world’s best (ahead of the debut of the women’s Championship Tour event in JBay a week later).

In addition, the VW Open of Surfing relocates from Durban to Nelson Mandela Bay. Councillor Andrew Whitfield was stoked: “The VW South African Open of Surfing being hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay in June is an economical boost for during a quiet time for the city. It is expected to bring in an estimated 4000 to 6000 visitors and an R18 million cash injection for the city.”


CUP IS FULL: Matt Gennrich, Angelo Faulkner and Johnny Bakker with the John Whitmore cup.

Underwriting the big plan is a major expansion into Africa through the expanding CSS and the recent formation of the African Surfing Federation, says WSL Africa head of operations Colin Fitch.

Talking to Spike from Wavescape, Fitch said there were nine members so far: Madagascar, Mauritius, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Angola, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco and Cape Verde, with Namibia due soon.

In addition to two events - one in Senegal and one in Morocco - others were planned in Cape Verde (which cooks by the way) and Ivory Coast by 2019. The aim was to have 14 events in Africa, and more cross-pollination with the City Surf Series.

“We are working on expanding the series into other areas in Africa. The series enables South African surfers to compete on a regular basis and compete locally in QS events without spending a lot of money to go overseas,” said Fitch at the launch.


HAPPY DAYS: Steve Sawyer, Councillor Siyansanga Sijadu, Crystal Hulett and Angelo Faulkner.

Steve "Steezy" Sawyer, world #2 longboarder, said: “It is insane to have this competition up and running in South Africa and if Michael February makes it onto the Championchop Tour (CT) that would be the biggest gift that could have been given to us in South Africa.”

VW general manager of communications Matt Gennrich said getting involved with surfing was a no-brainer. The VW brand had been associated with surfing since the old days of campervan surfaris.

CSS events will incorporate CSI Learn to Surf Initiatives and community Clean-the-Beach programmes, sponsored by Tuffy Plastics. In the 2017 edition of the CSS, 300 previously disadvantaged kids had surf lessons. CEO of Accelerate Sport CEO Edward Gregory recognises how important CSI is to the success of the CSS: "We understand the need to not only provide competitions for those needing the development, but also to expose previously disadvantaged kids to surfing and the positive impact it can have.”

The CSS festival of surfing aims to elevate the sport of surfing, recently included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, as well as develop local talent, attract foreign athletes to our shores, and celebrate the stoke and vibe of the surfing lifestyle.


PODIUM PLATFORM: Mikey Feb used the first series as a platform for 2018. Photo Luke Patterson

The 2017 CSS exposed South African surfers to top level competition against other local and international surfers, earning them QS points to kickstart the rest of the year. The biggest success in 2017 was Michael February, who won three events before getting a 3rd at the Ballito Pro and US Open of Surfing - springboards to his ultimate inclusion in the Championship Tour.

“The City Surf Series was just a massive thing for me last year, especially in the beginning of the year when there are not a lot of events (globally). This series helped me earn points leading up to the Ballito Pro and get some good practice in for later in the year,” February said.

CSS events feature QS rated men’s, women’s junior men and junior women’s competitions, Surfing South Africa (SSA) longboard men and women and SUP men and women’s categories.

Surf Series Event Schedule
VW Nelson Mandela Bay Surf pres. by Billabong – 30 Mar – 2 April
Royal St Andrews Port Alfred Classic pres. by Quiksilver (Inaugural event) – 6-8 April
Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits– 13-15 April
ZigZag Durban Surf Pro pres. By G-Force – 18-20 May
Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. By O’Neil – 14-17 June
VW SA Open of Surfing pres. By Hurley – 19-24 June

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/citysurfseriesza
Twitter: @citysurfseries_
Instagram: @citysurfseriesza 2018 City

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