It was a tale of two surf days for the SA Para Surf Champs on the weekend with cranking 3ft surf at Muizies turning to onshore mush on Sunday, but history was made on a special weekend out.
The full name of the event is a tongue twisting convolution - the Tyrelife SA Para Surf Champs and Para Surf League Open Powered by Ocean Freedom - but that did not deter several top international athletes from attending. While it is the SA Championship that sees the top South Africans rise to the para surf podium, it also doubles as the first leg of the brandnew Para Surfing Continental Zone Championships.
All athletes competing in the contest earn points towards their global standing and will be eligible to take part in the Para Surf League Global Championships, being held later in the year in the United States. The affable Llywelyn Sponge Williams from Wales was there, as was charismatic Liv Stone from the USA. They rip by the way.
ISA World Championships Silver Medalist JP Veaudry said: “Doubling up with the Para Surf league (PSL) meant that we had surfers from all over the globe visiting our beautiful country. I am thrilled to have defended my SA title at this year’s hugely successful event that was enjoyed by all the athletes. A big thank you to the event organizers, sponsors, supporters and spectators.”
Para Surfer Similo Dlamini added “the event was the first time an African country has been part of the Global Para Surf League. Competing with some of the best of the best on home surf breaks has been an absolute treat.
"Para Surfing is one of the most inclusive sports that differently abled people like me can achieve and reach major accolades. As a community we continue to push towards our goal of having Para Surfing included in the Para Olympics to be hosted in Los Angeles in 2028.”
“I will cherish this weekend's Para Surfing Champs for many years to come. It was truly an incredible experience to participate in this world class event alongside my fellow South African athletes and many inspirational Para Surfers from all around the world. Personally it was an emotional moment when I was announced as the South African Champ in my division” shared Para Surfer Ray Lessing.
French Surf Judge Laurent Marouf, who said he had competed all around the world for eight years as a parasurfer and now as surf judge said the event was "completely mind blowing and it has certainly strengthened me in this vision of being a citizen of the world through several significant markers.
As all the champions from the event return home with medals, they carry with them the hopes and dreams of Para Surf athletes around the world as they all strive to represent their nations in the Paralympics in 2028.
The opening day saw 62 athletes competing across 9 Para Surf divisions and three inclusive open divisions at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg, and it ended with an expression session featuring some of the top Para Surfers from around the world including South African Team member and ISA Silver Medalist JP Veaudry.
“What an extraordinary collaborative effort from athletes, volunteers, supporters, family, chaperones, coaches, water safety, officials, sponsors and event partners to make the opening day of the SA Para Surf Champs and Para Surf League Open such a huge success” said Roxy Davis, Event Lead Organizer.
Isaac February, President of Surfing South Africa, added “what an inspiring day of surfing at the Tyrelife Solutions SA Para Surf Champs & Para Surf League Africa Champs held at Muizenberg Beach. Perfect waves allowed for all surfers to showcase their skill and share the stoke.”
Bongani Xulu, the event Head Judge, commented “what a great first day from all the athletes, we had scores ranging from good to high. The waves have been good and it certainly has been great to see international surfers adjusting perfectly to our local surf conditions. We are looking forward to seeing more good surfing tomorrow with the finals taking place.”
“There are a lot of moving parts that go into running a surf contest, when it all comes together, the reward is seeing stoked athletes being given the best opportunities to showcase their talent! Day 1 was amazing with perfect 2-3 foot waves at Muizenberg. The athletes put on a great show and the day ended off in style with the perfect Expression Session that was enjoyed by all spectators. It was truly inspiring to see the athletes ‘let loose’ for 20 minutes and have loads of fun” Reza De Nicker, Contest Director.