Surfing in Namibia

Words: Alex Reynolds ǀ Photos: Rory Taylor


Surfing is a sport that has an incredible ability to bring people together. It is amazing how such a simple activity, gliding along the surface of the ocean on a piece of foam covered in fibreglass, is able to share joy and connect people from across the globe.



Back in May, a team from Christian Surfers was blessed with the opportunity to do a trip up to Namibia, to connect with and serve the local surfing community there.


Christian Surfers Africa has been actively involved in Namibia, sending a crew up the coast from South Africa each year for the past three years. They have been able to build relationships and connections with the surfers there, with a desire to encourage and empower the local surfing community of this wave-blessed desert nation.


The heart behind the trip was a 'serve trip' rather than a surf trip. The team truly desired to put others before themselves and use their shared passion for surfing to bring joy. The team from Christian Surfers partnered with Element Riders, a local adventure-sports tour company, to put on some surfing initiatives to unite and grow the grass-roots surfing community of Namibia.


Element Riders is a business that facilitates extreme adrenaline sports such as surfing, kite surfing, skydiving, paragliding, and rock climbing, to allow people to realise the value and fragility of their lives and learn to respect creation and the people around them. Their motto is 'Ride the Earth, the Wind, the Water … let your Soul be the Fire which drives you'.


After two full days of driving through the desert, characterised by massive dunes, vast emptiness, and long straight roads as far as the eye could see, the team from Christian Surfers arrived in Swakopmund, Namibia. The desert is unfamiliar territory for surfers who are used to the blue of the ocean and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore; however, there is definitely a different kind of beauty up there and it was awesome to experience it.


It was also incredible to see the growth and stoke of the Namibian surfing community. If there is one thing that Namibian surfers are blessed with, it is waves!


There are a variety of quality set-ups and surf breaks in the area, as well as a solid group of local surfers holding it down up there. It’s important to understand that three’s a crowd there and that even our small team was an instant crowd for those surfers, who are accustomed to surfing with only four to five other surfers on the most crowded of days. Being sensitive and respectful to the localism was crucial to serving and connecting with the surfers of the area, who were nothing but friendly and showed that they can seriously rip!


The first of the surfing initiatives was the 2013 Swakop Pro Surf Contest. The Friday contest featured the mini-groms and girls divisions followed by the main event on Saturday, which was held at Pebbles Beach in rippable 3-foot conditions. This year’s event showed a significant increase in participation from last year’s contest, with around 20 contestants in four divisions: U16 Boys, U20 Boys, Bodyboard, and Open Men’s. There was also amazing backing from sponsors and the local surfing community, many of whom were down at the beach checking out the event.


The level of surfing in the contest was very impressive and the guys were ripping! Local Shaun Loubser won the event by putting together a nice combination of rail turns and lip-bashes in the final to seal the deal.



Also in the final were Craig Moreland, Mark de Wet, and Wynand Labuschagne, who were tearing apart the rights at Pebbles throughout the event. The U16 and U20 divisions were won by super-grom Phillip Seidler, who must have loaded up on at least four to five bowls of chocolate ProNutro for extra energy before surfing in multiple heats in the U16, U20, and Open divisions. Also surfing in nearly every division and somewhere between six and ten heats during the course of the day were Schalk Louw and twins Dylan and Damien Lackey. It seemed like every time the judges looked up they were watching one of the blonde-haired twins going off the top on the end section of the left at Pebbles. Tyrone Kotz took home top honors in the Bodyboard division, with a mean combination of rolls and spins.


Following the surf contest was two days of surf coaching and clinics with the beginner surfers in the area. It was fantastic to see how stoked the kids were while learning to surf and how receptive they were to the coaching that was provided. Many of them show great natural talent and determination, and with continued coaching from Element Riders, who take the kids out two to three times a week for training, they should progress into Namibia’s next generation of rippers! One of the biggest joys and adventures of the trip was the surf and bodyboard camp up the coast with the local surfing youth.


The crew spent three days up in the middle of nowhere camping, braaing, and surfing their brains out! The time was filled with awesome fun, fellowship, and cooking waves! The 15 groms that came along were stoked and the 'older guys' were quite possibly even more stoked as they unleashed their inner grom for a couple days. During the camp there was a lot of time to connect with the kids, encourage them, and be a positive influence in their lives. They also showed great improvements in their surfing!


On day two of the camp, Mikhail Thompson, surf coach at the Son Surf School in Strand, and Sean Oberholzer, SA Masters Bodyboard Champ, ran a two-hour film critique session with the excited young surfers, who then showed solid improvements as they headed back out to surf. The kids’ receptiveness to coaching and desire to improve their surfing will take them a long way. Coaching and keeping the kids in line was actually a blast for the whole team. Some of the biggest challenges that they faced were trying to tell apart blonde-haired twins, Dylan and Damien, who both wore matching black and red O’Neill wetsuits, limiting the length of the post-surf hot showers, and trying to keep super-grom Phillip from overdosing on chocolate ProNutro.


It was special to see how in blessing others, the group was also blessed and enriched; inspired by the lives, stoke, and testimonies of the Namibian surfers that they got to hang and surf with. The growth and stoke was mutual! From their time and efforts there, Christian Surfers is hoping to leave the Namibian surfing community encouraged and united and to be a catalyst for further growth and opportunities.


Through serving, connecting, and building relationships, they hope to be a bright shining light in the Namibian surfing community that points back to the Creator, who shaped their passion for surfing, created the barrels they were riding in, and loves them unconditionally.


For more information about Christian Surfers visit: and on Element Riders, check out their website: