Thu, 15 October 2020

Surfers of all persuasions are raising funds for community projects as part of the Little Optimist Global Charity Challenge, with the February family launching a 24 hour marathon, writes Spike.


ONE FEB IN A BOAT: Mikey Feb even took lessons to learn how to sail an Oppie. Photo Scholtz

Covid-19 has brought about an unprecedented surge in charity endeavour rarely seen in the world. In the surfing community, this has manifested in many ways, from feeding schemes to events that support ocean-based community projects.

Just a few of those who are on board (so to speak) for the Little Optimist Global Challenge are world bodyboard champion Iain Campbell, big wave surfers Frank Solomon, Matt Bromley and Philip Nel, as well as professional surfer Michael February, who has teamed up with his family to host a marathon 24 hour "sail-a-thon" in their swimming pool in Kommetjie - part of a world-wide drive to raise funds for a range of ocean and community based charities.

The February family chose the Shark Spotters in Cape Town as their charity, which is interesting because Greg Bertish, founder of the Shark Spotters, is the founder of the Little Optimist Trust that is running the challenge. The February family are inviting paricipants to "buy" a berth in their Shark Spotters Oppie in their swimming for an hour all through the day and night starting tomorrow Friday at 1pm.


SECRET SURF SESSIONS: Bernie Shelley and crew had special t-shirts made. Photo Bernie Shelley

bernie-teeshirtPeople such as longboarding veteran Bernie Shelly, and shaper DVG, as well as various February neighbours and other supporters, have pledged to join in the fun. Bernie and her crew of women loggers even had a tee shirt designed for the occasion.

"We want everyone to be part of it," Mikey's dad Isaac said. "It's really important that surfers are inclusive and come together. We all represent surfing. And of course it doesn't have to be surfers, but anyone who loves the ocean, and who might benefit from the Shark Spotters one day."

To illustrate this wave of inclusivity, bodyboarding champion Iain Campbell and big wave surfer Philip Nel are on board by focusing on the shark spotters at Caves, near Koeel Bay. In a video appeal, Iain calls for people to help the February's initiative, or to at least help the Shark Spotters with small things like a lift to their work of watching over ocean users, or by giving them refreshments.

The Februaries are gearing up for a major marathon that goes thro the night tomorrow. To keep the gees going, they will play surf videos on a screen in the garden and have invited corporates, and friends to bring their friends, to be part of the fun. Most of the 24 one-hour slots of the marathon are filled, with a few in the dead of night still open, he said. However, to reach the cash target they are looking for on Back a Buddy, people don't have to book a slot, but can simply donate (click here).


FEBRUARY IN OCTOBER: Isaac February wants surfers to be inclusive. Photo Scholtz

For the other participants, Matt Bromley will be sailing with a group of children from the 9 Miles Project at Strandfontein - part of a drive to keep children off the streets and in the water. The R150 entry for the challenge is being sponsored for each child by Importers Coffee. 9 Miles – for which Bromley is a proud ambassador – was started by Nigel Savel, who wanted to share his love of surfing with youngsters from his troubled community as a way to steer them away from drugs and crime.

Solomon is hosting an event in the swimming pool at Tintswalo luxury hotel in Hout Bay for his NGO Sentinel Ocean Alliance. The organization was founded by Solomon himself, to create ocean-based opportunities for the youth of Hout Bay. Solomon says, “The reason I started this foundation is because of a video I saw of a young boy being shot in the face during a riot in Hout Bay. It struck me so hard because it is the same beach where I learnt to surf and where I fell in love with the ocean”.

The Global Challenge runs until Sunday. So got to Back a Buddy and donate to the Febrary iniative. You don't have to enter or sit in an Oppie for an hour!

Wavescape is the media partner to the February marathon. The Little Optimist Global Challenge is the brainchild of surfer and charity campaigner Greg Bertish, who runs the Little Optimist Trust, an NGO that aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged children through sailing therapy. The challenge is open to anyone around the world on any body of water and runs from October 9-18. Entry is a minimum of R150 and all proceeds go to www.thelittleoptimistglobalchallenge.org

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