Wed, 16 August 2017

Giant surf pounded Stilbaai point on Friday for the Vintners Surf Classic, but the wine ous were fortified (low in tannin, high on sugar with a dash of stabiliser), writes Spike.


BORDEAUX BLEND: A mixed varietal of okes made up the 2017 collection. Photo Thys Lombard

Early on the day of the competition, the cold front chased me from Cape Town. It rained the whole way. I was late. An incompetent petrol station manager in Somerset West had charged me twice after a mixup with my credit card. That cost 15 minutes. The rain was heavy in parts. That probably cost another 20. The stop-and-go outside Stilbaai pushed the tally to almost an hour lost.

Funny how time speeds up when it runs against you. Stilbaai point was wet and wild. It was also packed with beanie-clad people. Wine people. Bad weather and giant surf do not stop the most important wine industry get-together of the year.

And yet the car park was awash with mud. The judges huddled in a wind-blown tent, partly protected by a laager of double cabs. Surfers and onlookers crowded into that tent, and another as a cold wind keened, while the rest huddled in their cars.


LATE DROP: Last minute takeoffs, freefalls and wipeouts were common. Photo Thys Lombard

Many people had parked cars facing away from the point, so you could huddle under the back door away from the driving rain ... if you had a boot that swings up. The tide was low and the surf didn't seem big. There were a few 6' sets here and there, but long gaps, clean water and smooth seas.

But the pushing tide was still a few hours away, and everything was about to change.

It's always great to see the people who turn up every year to hang together, such as Jeremy Walker of Grangehurst, Gerrie Mars of Stoepwijn, Johan Reyneke of Reyneke Wines, Cobus Joubert of Wawa Surfboards, Gunter Schultz of Kleinood, Carlos Nobrega of Chapmans Peak Hotel, Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines, and Duncan Savage formerly of Cape Point Vineyards. The names read a who's who of the wine industry, people like Miles Mossop, Gordon Newton Johnson, Antony de Jager, Johan Rademan, and Henry Dowling, to name just a few of the roughly 70 guys.


BACKHAND BOMB: Some wave faces were 3x and more overhead. Photo Thys Lombard

By early afternoon, as the tide pushed, solid 10 if not 12 foot sets were blasting across the far outer slab of the point. Despite the scary conditions, it was a win-win. For those who braved the pounding surf, and it was everyone (no-one bailed, despite some people getting washed straight down the point on the paddleout), if you got waves, you advanced. If you didn’t, you could try some lekker varietals.

In other words, wines were tasted and our mettle tested.

It’s definitely getting more difficult in the ballies division though. We’re not getting any younger, and all these young oaks are moving up into the Over 45 zone. Guys like Johan Reyneke and Miles Mossop, who won the category. Mention must be made of Henry Dowling, who at the age of 64 is still charging out there, and on a 6' 1" hand-shaped and hand-glassed surfboard nogal.


CLEAN GREEN: Once on a wave, it was a wide open canvas of possibility. Photo Thys Lombard

Vintners-Surf-Classic-ThysLombard-2017-047Ross and Micky Lindsay, and Mat Marais, were standouts for the sponsors, with JT Van Der Westhuizen strong in the juniors with a young Markus Sadie, son of Eben, making on appearance on the podium.

Gerrie Mars had an interesting time out there. He took a wave on the head and his leashed snapped minutes before the beginning of his heat, and it took him a long time to retrieve his board.

Most surfers took some big waves on the head. When the juniors paddled out for their final, a giant set swept down the point. Within minutes they had been washed 400 yards down the point, and had to work hard to catch waves.

SINGLE FIN: Eben Sadie and Cobus Joubert prepare to celebrate. Photo Thys Lombard

JT vd Westhuizen
Jan Solms
Markus Sadie
Brad Gold

Nicky de Villiers
Duncan Savage
Gunter Schultz
Francois Hanekom

Trizaan Barnard
Nadia Barnard

Ross Lindsay
Mat Marais
Micky Lindsay
Johan Rademan

Miles Mossop
Cobus Joubert
Anthony de Jager
Steve Rogers

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