Wed, 14 August 2019

Free coffee, few crowds, and good vibes were part of the SA SUP Waveriding Championships recently, writes our favourite author Melissa Volcker. Pics Anna-Marie Steyn Frick


SMALL SURF, BIG MOVE: Dylan Frick looked smooth in small surf for his win in the Open Men.

You might think the best part of the SA SUP Waveriding Champs was the chance to surf in the corner without the weekend crowds? Perhaps it was the free coffee at Xpression on the Beach. Was it the chance to be so cold, I could stretch my new Techno Butter wettie to the limit of its capacity?

While all of the above were true, none were my absolute favorite. It was the vibe. And, just like it takes an array of elements - wind, groundswell, reefs and sandbanks - to create a perfect wave, so it was for the good vibes at the SA SUP champs.

More than 50 Stand up paddlers from around South Africa (including a crew who made the trip from East London, btw. And I am from PE, so I know what it is to make the journey out of the Eastern Cape. Second only to Marco Polo’s travels.) Stand Up Paddlers of all abilities and backgrounds converged at Muizenberg and celebrated 100 Years of Surfing.


QUEEN TARRYN KING: She is a world champ and set the bar super high for the Open Women

The top shredders in the Open Division set the bar high on Day 1. It was onshore but there was swell, and the waves held up enough. Tarryn King, Penny Stemmett, Khara Doyle, Tammy Foster, Chelsea van Rooyen and Evette Terblanche powered their way straight through to the semi’s.

In the men’s division, Capetonians Tom King, Matt Maxwell and Dylan Frick got the job done in the waves, as they usually do, but East London came knocking in the form of Jethro Johnson. His powerful surfing and variety of manoeuvres put pressure on the Cape Town contingent.

Let’s not forget about the GOAT of SUP surfing either. The Gary of All Time may be over sixty years old but he knows how to drop a nine point ride. Gary Van Rooyen was on fire in the Men’s Open and Legend division and clocked in with a 9.43 in his opening heat in the Legend’s division. Despite a tight race against the flair and experience of Dave Maxwell, Gary finished up first in the Legends.


LEFT RUNNER: Chelsea van Rooyen looked solid for her 4th in the Open Women

On Day Two, the first ever Foil final of the SA SUP champs was held in perfect 2-3' offshore Muizenberg. Tammy Foster flew the flag for the women, and Thomas King took it home for the men.

Elleni Smyth, Sue Maxwell, Dominique Venter and I were blessed with a glass-off in our Divas final. The wind dropped, and a few beautiful sets rolled in, giving us the best of Surfer’s Corner: the opportunity for long, smooth rides with relatively short paddle outs.

The Social Men’s division brimmed with energy and stoke.The Social Men’s division brimmed with energy and stoke. Up and coming Muizenberg local Sinda Takatana gave it his best shot, but the winner was West Coast frother, Mike Foster. He joined his wife, Tammy (first in foil and second in Open Women) in the medals. The Hawaiian word for family is Ohana, and it is no coincidence that a SUP shape has been named for it. The Ohana spirit was strong at the SUP champs. The heats were overflowing with family connections: Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters, friends, partners and more.

It was wonderful to see the support and love on the beach and in the water, and to feel the stoke among the families. Whether they were surfing alongside each other, wielding a camera, sharing encouragement or bringing the coffee, family and friends were never far.


EVASIVE ACTION: Muizenberg local Sinda Takatana gave it his best shot in the Social Men

A strong surge of SUP surfing is coming up from the Junior divisions in the form of Chiara Vorster, Miggie Terblanche, Adam Lawrence, Keena Thomson and Cameron Tripney. There were a lot of proud parents on the beach. Cameron Tripney, as always supported by his father, Steve, won the Junior Boys division.

Erstwhile SA team rider, Khara Doyle, stylishly surfed her way to a stacked semifinal against Tammy Foster and Tarryn King, in the Open Women, while her husband Jarred surfed in the Social Men. But it was Khara’s family, her mom, Natalie Thomson and her sister, Keena Thomson who won the Social Women and the Junior Girls, respectively.

Stand up paddling in South Africa continues ahead of the field in gender equity. There was, as usual, no restriction on entrants in the women’s division compared with the men, or disparity in prize allocation.


CHIARA CRUISING: Chiara Vorster puts in the paddle for another pivot in the Social Women

The high number of entrants in the Divas and the Social Women is a sure sign that SUP in South Africa continues to empower and uplift women. Many women have, due to historical gender roles and disparity, not had the opportunity to learn to surf or SUP while they were young, so the nerves and fear can be intense.

But with the structure of events like SA SUP Champs, and with friends, family members or World Champ Tarryn King there to help prepare them and paddle out with them, many women have been able to step out of their comfort zone and grow as SUP surfers.

The Ohana board might now be rare, but the spirit of Ohana is not, and all the more so at SA Champs. It’s not just a contest. It’s a community.


Legends 45+
1. Gary van Rooyen
2. Dave Maxwell
3. Francois Frick
4. Mike X

1. Missy Volker
2. Elleni Smyth
3. Sue Maxwell
4. Dominique Venter

Social Men
1. Mike Foster
2. Sinda Takatana
3. Cameron van Niekerk
4. Joshua Coetzee

Social Women
1. Natalie Thomson
2. Chiara Vorster
3. Sune Hutchinson
4. Lizanie Teron
5. Gabi Nordgaard

Open Men
1. Dylan Frick
2. Thomas King
3. Matt Maxwell
4. Jethro Johnson

Open Women
1. Tarryn King
2. Tammy Foster
3. Penny Stemmet
4. Chelsea van Rooyen

Junior Boys
1. Cameron Tripney
2. Miggie Terblanche
3. Adam Lawrence

Junior Girls
1. Keena Thomson
2. Chiara Vorster

Foil - Men
1. Thomas King
2. Mike Oxley
3. Henco Scholts
4. Pete Petersen
5. Dave Maxwell

Foil - Women
1. Tammy Foster

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