Waveski impis to battle it out on the waves

Words: Timothy Reinhardt │ Photos: Timothy Reinhardt & Rory Taylor

The world’s best waveski surfers are set to carve up and make play dough out of some of the most pristine and epic surf breaks in southern Africa at the World Waveski Surfing Titles 2014. Hosted by the South African Waveski Surfing Association, the event takes place in Durban, from 26 April to 4 May. As a precursor, the SA Open Series will consist of three events in three locations along 1,600 km of coastline. These events will attract the world’s best waveskiers, so expect nothing less than upside down airs and radical cut backs, progressive and innovative surfing at its best, by the best.

Photo credit: Rory Taylor

The series opens with the Western Province Open at Jongensfontien, from 12 to 13 April. The Eastern Province Open follows at Jeffreys Bay, at the revered Magna Tubes, from 16 to 17 April. Then it's finally on to the Border Open at Nahoon Reef, East London, from 21 to 23 April. Points will be awarded for positions achieved in each event, culminating in the South African Open Series 2014 Champion being announced. The World Waveksi Title event in Durban will be based on a roving system, with the beach of choice being New Pier and alternative breaks being North Beach and Umhlanga. There will be nine categories, ranging from Cadets (13 to 16 years old) to Veterans (60 years plus), Ladies and ultimately an Open event pertinent to all top competitors. 

Locally, waveski surfing has traditionally enjoyed a strong rivalry between the provinces of KZN, Border, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, and this year will be no different. In addition, there will be top international riders from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Portugal, Brazil and the United States of America. France is a strong contender with big names like Virgile Humbert, Pablo Arrouays (2013 Worlds Open victor and runner-up respectively), Mathieu Jonneaux and multiple world title holder Mathieu Babaret. South Africa usually dominates and boasts many past and current world champions, the likes of Sandra Pienaar (Ladies), Charles du Plessis (Grand Masters) and Willy Graser (Veterans). Local surfers who shined at last year’s Durban Wave Action, which is considered to be the test run to Worlds, were KwaZulu-Natal's Duran (Duran) Martin and Liam Kerr, the Eastern Cape’s Ian Macleod and Doug Copeland, Border’s Andre Burger, and the Western Cape's Schalk van Wyk and Rory Taylor.
La duuuma! Slashing cutbacks and assegai sprays. La duuuma! Dimpled swells and crashing waves. La duuuma! The waveski impi battling it out on the waves. La duuuma!

Photo credit: Rory Taylor

Competition breaks

Words: Rory Taylor
The Open Series offers venues that have been hand-picked for its world-class
quality waves.
Jongensfontein offers an idyllic holiday atmosphere, with a superb right reef break and rides up to 200 m, perfect on a smaller swell. The break is central to the village and anyone with a view can enjoy the competition from their balconies. For storm conditions or if the swell proves too fierce, the competition will move to Stillbaai point, an insane right reef break that can handle 20-ft swell.
Jeffreys Bay needs little introduction and Magna Tubes is situated at the top end of J-Bay. Also a right-hand reef break, it’s renowned for long, powerful, barrelling waves.

The surfing atmosphere that J-Bay exudes is unmistakable, the electricity palpable.
Nahoon Reef gets the adrenalin pumping when those huge right-hand reef peaks come out of the deep sea to come crashing down on the reef. It offers a superb wave, but getting caught on the inside of a big set can easily be the end of a heat. Shifting peaks and strong winds make this spot a challenge in poor conditions, but taking off on a Nahoon bowl stays with you for a long time, as pure power thrills all the way down the 250 m reef.
Durban North Beach's location on the east coast means right-hand rides come with a crunching beach break between the two piers. Home of the original Gunston 500 and birthplace of many a South African surfing hero, as the swell hits a shallow sand bank, the lip jabs forward and fast barrels are pleasingly commonplace. However, on bigger days paddling out through the crashing bank is almost impossible. Timing, fitness and strength sorts the men from the boys, the warriors from the wets.

There can be only one

Words: Rory Taylor
The serious contender comes in the form of our very own home-grown Ian Macloed, son of the famous founder of Macski. Ian is currently the SA champion, having won the SA Opens 2013, and he's on a winning streak in other local competitions. Recently placed third at the USA Opens, Ian is known for his powerful surfing style, shredding spray off big turns in the pocket of the wave.
His main competition will come from within the heart of the French team, the ‘Kelly Slater’ of waveski surfing - Mathieu Babaret. Multiple world title holder and master of the aerial manoeuvre, his clinical style and radical moves will challenge Ian right to the end. The younger, dynamic French riders, like Pablo and Clement, are the wild cards.
The advantage often sits with the rider if the conditions on the day suit one's particular style and preference, which makes the ability to surf a variety of breaks and conditions imperative in the run up to the titles.

SA Waveski Team 2014

Juniors - Tian Podges, Duran Martin and Liam Smith
New Age - Adolph van Zyl and Andre Burger
Seniors - Schalk van Wyk and Ant Stout
Master - Ian Macleod, Doug Copeland and Rory Taylor
Grand Masters - John Venter, Jeremey Pienaar, Gerard Wilke and
Tony Dubber
Veterans - Willy Graser, Danie Nel and Ian Beach
Ladies - Sandra Pienaar and Shannon Copeland
Team Manager - Jan Brand

Sponsorship and media coverage opportunities

To host a world-class event, sponsorship is paramount. Prospective sponsors for any Open Series event and or Worlds can please contact Darryl Moodie of Focus Marketing Economic & Logistics (www.focusmarketing.co.za).

Concerning World Titles, Durban 2014, the media rights package associated with Worlds offers sponsors a big reward for their buck. In particular, from a media perspective, DSTV will cover the entire week’s event via a 26-minute highlights programme. Filmed by White Hot Media in Durban, it will cover the competition from the opening to closing ceremony. It will also be given a minimum of six spots, possibly ten for broadcast, and there will be a live feed on YouTube during the entire final day. From comprehensive and detailed programmes to leaflets and permission to erect branding on the beach, this competition will shape a unique opportunity for potential sponsors.
For our international sponsors, we have secured time on an international TV channel called Nautical Channel (nauticalchannel.com/nautical-channel), which is aired in 42 countries and seen by almost 20-million people.
More information
Please see www.worldwaveski.org for more information and like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/World-Waveski-Surfing-Association/160903600622918 for updates, awesome photos, or sponsorship queries.