Last Bid to get Team SA to Para Surfing Champs
Time is running out for members of the Proteas para surfing team as they desperately try to pay for their trip to the ISA World Para Surfing Championship in California in less than a month.
The championships, to be held November 5-11, will be held at the iconic Huntington Beach pier as the International Surfing Association waits to hear if para surfing will be included in the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympic Games.
This positive development signals a major shift in interest, and investment, for para surfing from governments and corporates all around the world. However, in South Africa, members of Team South Africa must raise their own funds through crowd funding campaigns, and several have so far fallen short.
A nation may have up to 18 team members: nine men and nine women across nine categories. But, of the 11 selected to represent South Africa, almost half are in danger of pulling out, with no interest or support from Sascoc or other official channels, let alone corporates and proudly South African individuals.
Since the inaugural ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship in 2015, para surfing has experienced major growth. Records were broken last year at Pismo Beach in California. More than 180 athletes represented 28 countries, and the 2023 iteration looks set for new records as Paralympic inclusion gains momentum.
The involvement of women has increased significantly every year, making up a third of the field in 2022. Gender equality is a pillar of the ISA’s mission, and the organisation has stated that it is invested in promoting gender equity in each surfing discipline.
However, despite the excitement and passion for para surfing around the world, Team SA, and in particular female members, finds itself out in the cold.
Team Captain Tracy McKay appealed to the public to help get the surfers to California. "We want to do South Africa proud, as we have in the past when we brought four medals home in 2020, but with the weak rand, and little to no support from sports bodies, government and corporates, this is is a huge mountain to climb."
"The reality is that the people with little contacts or networks or financial backup are left high and dry," she said.
Let's get our para surfing heroes to California! If you would like to assist, please contact Tracy on email@example.com
You can either support individually to the crowdfunding links below, but note that some members do not have a crowdfunding resource, in which case your donation will be disbursed to those most in need, depending on your preference.
Here is the South African team selected for the worlds
Tracy McKay, 53, Prone 1 (unassisted), Team Captain
From The Bluff in Kwa Zulu Natal, Tracy has been surfing since 2018, and lists Dairy Beach as her favourite break. The 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Champs will be her 3rd international competition. She won a silver medal at the worlds in La Jolla (San Diego) in 2020 just days before the world went into Covid lockdown, and won bronze at the worlds at Pismo Beach in 2022. This is her 2nd year as captain.
Antony Smythe, 53, Para Surfing Stand 1
Antony, who lives in Cape Town but is frequently on the para surfing tour, has the rare accolade of surfing in the able bodied Western Province team at Masters level, with a 4th place finish at the SA Champs in 2016. Ant represented South Africa at the inaugural ISA championships in 2015, where he won a silver medal in the AS-1 Division. In 2016, Ant won the inaugural SA Adaptive Surfing Champs, and won the world title later that year in San Diego. He has won two world titles, two US Open titles, four SA Titles and 2nd in the World Adaptive Tour.
Jean-Paul Veaudry, 47, Para Surfing Stand 1
Born in Durban, JP spent has spent most of his life in East London, surfing from when he was 14 years of age. His favourite spot is Nahoon Reef. He is five time South African Adaptive Surfing Champion, and has two medals at the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships held in the USA, between 2015 and 2020. He also received 1st place in the ‘Made for More, Virtual Adaptive Surfing Champions’ and 1st Place for the ‘AmpSurf Virtual Home-Break Adaptive Pro/Am Surfing Championships' in 2020.
Michele McFarlane, 55,
Para Surfing Vision Impairment 1
Michele Macfarlane, who lives in Cape Town and lists Muizenberg as her favourite spot, started surfing at the ripe age of 52. She surfed in the team last year but this year, she has not raised enough money to join her team mates in California.
JP Andrew, 36, Para Surfing Kneel
JP hails from Cape Town, and enjoys surfing at Dangers or Muizenberg. This will be his first international event. "I’m nervous but really looking forward to competing internationally".
Tyler Pike, 27, Para Surfing Kneel
Tyler hails from the surfing village of Kommetjie south of Cape Town, and lists his favourite break as I & Js. He competed in the 2017 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships and the 2018 World Adaptive Surfing Championships. In 2019, he came 4th in the kneel division at the Bali Adaptive Pro. He has almost met his target for funds.
Similo Dlamini, 40, Para Surfing Kneel
Similo hails from Kwa Mashu, and lists Addington as her favourite surf spot. This year will be her second year competing for SA at the worlds after she was selected for the 2022 ISA World Para surfing Champs held at Pismo Beach, California, where she placed 6th. She is in danger of not making it to California due to a lack of funds. "This year was an amazing year some of us had the opportunity to surf at the Ballito Pro which was amazing opportunity to showcase para surfing."
Douglas Hendrikz, 43, Para Surfing Sit
Doug is originally from Cape Town but now lives in Durban. Hisfavourite surf break is wherever the winds are right and the waves are great. He attended the 2022 ISA World Para Surfing Champs held at Pismo Beach, California, and placed 4th in his division to win a copper medal. He has not met his target for funds.
Noluthando Makalima, 34
Para Surfing Prone 2 (assisted)
Noluthando, who was born with cerebral palsy, started surfing in 2014, overcoming her fear of water. Noluthando received the Minister’s Recognition of Excellence Award in 2020 after she got a silver medal at the ISA World Para Surfing CHampionships in San Diego at her first worlds, and the first time she has travelled overseas. "I was selected to participate in the World Parasurfing Championships this year and even though I don’t have the funds I hope that I will be able to go, bring back the gold and make my daughter (eight year old Iminathi) proud."
Natashia Angolique Siebert, 36
Para Surfing Prone 2 (assisted)
Natashia is from Amanzimtoti in Kwa Zulu Natal. She has been surfing for two years, and her favourite break is North Beach. The 2023 ISA Para Surfing Champs will be her first international competition.
Oli Sinclair, 48
Para Surfing Prone 2 (assisted)
This will be his second World Para Surfing Championships. Last year he came 19th. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2004, which caused double-vision and has resulted in him being Hemiplegic. This means that the right-hand side of his body doesn’t work, with partial use of his left side. He has only ever surfed as a Para surfer. :Before I used to spend all my free time in the African bush tracking lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino for guests to view."
Anne Wright, Team SA Manager
Durbanite Anne has been involved with surfing for the past 25 years, starting off as part of the KZN Surfing Association. She has been on the board of Surfing South Africa (SSA) for the past six years. This year, I was appointed as the first woman voted in as Vice President of SSA. My role is mainly Women's Desk and as an ISA accredited Contest Director I run a lot of our contests in SA. My first introduction to Para Surfing was as a Contest Director, which she has been doing for four years now. "It's a great honour for me not only to represent SA but to work with these amazing athletes. Watching what they achieve with determination and the hard work is so encouraging!"
John Whittle, Head Coach
John Whittle, also from Durban, is no stranger to the South African Surfing or Surf Lifesaving Community and big wave scene. His win in the Red bull Big Wave Africa of 2006 earned hims an invite to the Mavericks Surf Contest in 2007. His introduction to Para Surfing was teaching visually impaired surfer Erin Geddy at North Beach Durban, then watching Erin compete in the worlds in the USA as a member of the SA Team. John volunteers his skills and knowledge to the Durban para surfing community, contributing to performance and equipment, even turning his attention to para surfboard design.
Owami Zama, Coach
Owami, 22, is from the small town of Scottburgh, who has been volunteering at Made for More for more than three years, and will be participating in his second World Para Surfing Championship at Huntington Beach. He also requires funding, and has not met the target he needs.
A guide to para surfing classification can be found here
Spike is the father of Tyler Pike, a member of the SA Team. His Backabuddy is almost on target, so rather support those who are more urgent.