Words: Alex Reynolds | Photos: Alex Reynolds and Scott Dossey | Videos: Riding on Faith Photography
James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure JOY my brothers when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Photo credit: Alex Reynolds and Scott Dossey
The 2013 Christian Surfers East Coast Roadshow is going down in the history books as the ‘Dance in the Rain’ Roadshow. Stopping at six towns during the six-week Roadshow, it seemed that at every stop along the way we were thrown a curve ball and forced to pray, trust, adapt, and ‘dance in the rain’.
The Christian Surfers East Coast Roadshow is a series of fun, alternative, community-based surf and skate events that are all built around the board-riding culture and increasing the stoke levels of the boardriders. After countless hours of dreaming, planning, and organising our team, we thought we had everything locked down for one of our biggest campaigns of the year.
In Mossel Bay there was a 50 km onshore wind. In George there was a downpour of rain before our skate contest. In East London there was a 10-foot mess of roiling death swells that came up overnight and forced us to relocate our contest. In Jeffreys Bay there was a fatal shark attack the day before the roadshow kicked off, and then a flat ocean forced a second rescheduling of the event. Despite all of these obstacles, each event of the roadshow accomplished its purpose: connecting surfers and skaters across our coastline with not only rad, wacky, fun, stoke-filled surf and skate events in their community but also with the abundant life, love, and joy Jesus desires for them.
Mossel Bay surfers and skaters of all ages converged on Diaz Beach despite howling onshore winds and lingering thoughts of big fish patrolling the waters. There was quite a turnout for the event and it was a beautiful thing to see the community come together and enjoy the fun, action-packed day.
The inaugural Jesus Soulful Switchup Mossel Bay ran throughout the day and as a Switchup event, surfers were required to ride two different boards during the course of their heat, their standard shortboard and an alternative board. They were judged on both performance and soul style for their best wave on each of the boards. Given the criteria, the contest saw a plethora of weirdness, with guys riding fishes, finless boards, air mattresses, and even a shopping trolley taped to a long board.
The Poker Run, sponsored by Sector 9, saw skaters tearing up the 2 km loop around Diaz Beach with hopes of face cards and aces. This skate event was purely about fun and luck, as skaters stopped five times alone the route to collect poker cards and build their hand. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Sector9 and Element, all of the skaters walked away with a prize and a smile on their face!
Sitting in the Nahoon Beach Lifesavers Shack during the opening function of the Jesus Fish Festival Gospel Classic and watching clean, waist-to-chest high waves roll in, no one would have guessed what the next morning would bring. The swell was forecasted to pick up, but nobody thought there would be massive 10-foot bombs breaking a kilometre out to sea when they arrived for the contest at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning. Due to highly uncontestable conditions, contest director and East London surf guru, Nick Pike, threw all the surfers for a loop when he made the call to move the event to Orient Beach.
“There was no chance of running a surf contest at Nahoon, the ocean was a roiling mess of death swells. It was 5 to 8 metre ship-sinking chaos, so we moved the contest to Orient Beach, a venue that most east London surfers will only ride two or three times in a lifetime. Orient is a very rare wave. It never breaks.”
Orient Beach, a little beach tucked up against the harbor wall on the other side of East London, is sheltered from most swell and is not even on the surf radar of 99% of East London surfers. Nearly all of the 100 contestants in the Jesus Fish Festival surfed Orient for the first time during the contest. This added another twist to the contest: surfers riding a board they had never surfed before at a spot they had never surfed before.
The format of the Jesus Fish Festival was different because all of the contestants surfed on the exact same board. Five of the same beautiful 5’9 quad-fin fishes were sponsored by local businesses and churches, and shaped for the event. The fishes were intended to get the surfers out of their comfort zone and force them to ride something they weren’t used to, and the surfers rode only the boards provided to create a level playing field. The quad fishes designed for the contest were ideal for the Orient and proved hugely entertaining and were passed like batons from heat to heat, competitor to competitor, as the event was run off.
Wayne Monk, SA Surfing Champion, took top honors in the Open Men’s division followed by Luke Goldschmidt in second, Shannon Ainslie third, and Brad Dalbock fourth. Wayne was laying down some mean turns on the fishes and was a standout throughout the event. He also must have been quite proud of his son Michael Monk, who won the Junior division. Contest Director Nick Pike tore apart a smoking right-hander in the finals of the Bullets division to edge out the win. Cara MacDonald won the Ladies division.
On Sunday morning, all those involved in the contest joined together on the beach to make a giant human cross where they could bury prayers in the sand at the foot of the cross.
With more than 100 entrants taking part in the event, it was amazing to see God’s hand at work in the lucky draw for the boards. The first board was given to a young girl, Hannah Moerdyk, who was more than stoked with her new stick. Two brothers, Chad and Todd Dustan, each won a board. Shannon Ainslie, from J-bay, won the board sponsored by Link FM, the radio station that he shared his testimony on the Friday before the contest. Wayne Monk, winner of the Open Men’s event, was also chosen to take one of the fishes. This is the second year in a row where the winner of the East London Gospel Classic has been chosen to take home a board. Excluding Port Alfred, it is interesting to note that all the recipients of the Jesus Fish surfboards given away live along the coastline of the Eastern Cape.
The event wrapped up with a screening of The Perfect Wave to a packed audience at Stirling Baptist Church. Based on the life and testimony of Ian McCormack, the movie tells of how Ian encounters God and comes back to life in a morgue after an encounter with a box jellyfish in Mauritius. The movie has an overwhelming message of hope.
Photo credit: Alex Reynolds and Scott Dossey
Despite heavy showers the night before and talk of moving or cancelling the event, the George skaters came out in full force. After drying up the park early in the morning, we managed to have a sick day of skateboarding with the locals at Skatelab. Luke Goliath impressed the judges and earned the top spot in the contest.
We spent some time at the Yard Skatepark in Knysna, and hosted an indoor/outdoor jam contest and braai with the locals. Good fun was had by all and some legit skating went down.
We had an awesome day of skateboard action at the mini-ramp in Port Alfred. It was rad to see girl and guy skaters of all different ability levels getting it on the ramp with great support from the local community. Thanks go to Christian Skaters Africa, Africa Skate, Skate Factory, Burksies, Kingdom Longboards SA, Port Alfred Baptist, and the local NG church for helping out.
Canoes, kneeboards, alaias (a thin, round-nosed wooden boards that glides along the surface of the water without fins), and air mattresses were just a few of the random, alternative crafts that the surfers of Jeffreys Bay were riding at Kitchen Windows during the Jesus Soulful Switchup surf contest proving that J-bay surfers can surf anything you give them.
The second annual Jesus Soulful Switchup at Kitchens was the last stop of the 2013 Christian Surfers East Coast Roadshow. Originally scheduled as the kick-off event of the roadshow, the event was postponed due to a tragic shark attack on 11 October at Lower Point and then postponed again from the Saturday due to Kitchen Windows looking like Kabeljous lagoon. God definitely had plans for the event to run when it did because He blessed it with ideal summer conditions: sunshine, offshore winds, and fun little 2-3 ft cookers.
The Switchup format required surfers to ride two different boards during the course of their heat, their standard shortboard and an alternative board. As a result, the contest saw an abundance of weirdness with surfers canning themselves with laughter as they tried their luck on a variety of wacky floating crafts.
J-bay shredders Dylan Lightfoot, Remi Peterson, Shannon Ainslie, and Craig Rademan battled it out for the top spot in the finals of the Open Men’s. Dylan took the lead after tearing apart two bombing rights out at the point, then backing it up with a wave on his canoe. Remi’s prowess on the alaia impressed the judges throughout the contest. Matt McGillivray took top honors in the Junior division and Emma Smith beat her sister, Gina, for the win in the Ladies.
To all who checked out, participated, sponsored, prayed for, or were at all in the 2013 Christian Surfers East Coast Roadshow, we want to say thank you! We were so blessed to ‘dance in the rain’ with you! Our prayer is that you will continue to connect with the surfers, skaters, and churches in your community and experience more and more stoke as your relationships and passions are restored.
For more details on the 2013 Christian Surfers East Coast Roadshow, visit: www.christiansurfers.co.za
Check out more on The Perfect Wave at www.theperfectwave.co.za
East London Surf Video: https://vimeo.com/79181972
George Skate Video: https://vimeo.com/78176581