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Success for Tyre Life Solutions South African Para Surfing Champs

23 Jun 2021

Rising Sun Overport

A total of 46 contestants took part this year, almost double the number of surfers that competed in the last SA Champs, which was held in 2019.

South Africa’s best para surfers recently flocked to Durban’s New Pier for the Tyre Life Solutions SA Para Surfing Championships.

The national competition was hosted by Made for More, a local NPO that equips and empowers people with disabilities through sport.

The weather played its part with a typical Durban winter day full of sunshine and warmth. The conditions and waves on Saturday were perfect with 3-4 foot surf and Sunday offered 2-3 foot contestable conditions.

The size of the waves took a lot of the surfers out of their comfort zone, but they continued to impress and break barriers with their sheer will, determination, skill and bravery.

The event had multiple divisions according to disability and contestants were classified to make it a fair and level playing field for all competitors. The divisions being: stand, kneel, prone unassist, prone assist, blind and visually Impaired, waveski and all ability.

This event is not only a national competition, but also serves to select surfers to represent South Africa at the ISA World Para Surfing Championships in the USA later in the year. The competition was fierce and there was a lot at stake for the competitors in the various divisions.

Shining stars of the event were Jean Paul Veaudry, who dominated the stand 2 (lower limb) division winning the gold, beating his friend and rival, Antony Smyth in the stand 1 (upper limb) division over all with the highest scoring ride of the event.

Veaudry was awarded 9.5 out of a possible 10 points. Nachman Balulu came all the way from Israel to secure a second spot in the stand 2 (lower limb) division and a second overall in the stand. Caleb Swanepoel took off on some of the biggest sets of the day securing a first in the stand 3 (lower limb) division and a fourth overall.

The men’s kneel division was tightly contested between former SA para surfer, Tyler Pike and newcomer, David Williams. In the end, it was David Williams, who took the victory to win his first ever SA Para Surfing Championships after only surfing for a year.

Derick Sigwebela claimed his spot in the top three to secure himself a bronze medal. Other notable mentions were Tracy Mckay, Durban’s very own superwoman, who got the ride of the day on Sunday, earning her nine points to win her division and beat friend and South African Para Surfing Team member, Daniel Nel. Both will be representing South Africa at the ISA World Para Surfing Championships later this year.

The hotly contested prone assist division, which had the most competitors with a total of eight women, was a spectacle to watch. Former ISA World Para Surfer silver medallist, Noluthando Makalima was leading the charge and was the event favourite to win. However, in the fiercely competitive final, local Durban girls, Alulutho Tshoba, Natashia Siebert and Jodie Kroone managed to take first, second and third respectively, with Makalima securing fourth position.

Alulutho, who was the youngest competitor in her division at 14-years-old, was definitely the most improved surfer of the event, pushing her limits and charging big waves. Her final heat score went into the excellent range with a 7.0 and an 8.0 giving her a heat total of 15 out of a possible 20.

Oliver Sinclair won the prone Assist division convincingly. Sinclair won with an 8.5 and 8.0 as his top two scoring waves for an excellent heat total of 16.5 out of a possible 20. Oliver beat rivals, James Sinclair who came second and Lwazi Matanga, who came third.

In the blind and visually impaired unassist division, Erynn Geddie surfed exceptionally well the entire event with all three of his heat scores in the excellent range. He beat current world number seven, Sabelo Ngema as well as Danito Mondlane to become the new 2021 South Africa Para Surfing Champion. Michele Macfarlane, who surfed her first national event, did exceptionally well to win the blind and visually Impaired women’s division.

The Waveski division saw seasoned campaigner, Doug Hendrikz dominate and regain his South African title, with newcomer and friend, Martin Ferreria securing a second in his first national championships.

The all ability division, which sees competitors with Down Syndrome, autism and any other physical, intellectual or social disabilities not mentioned above, was won by Sean Thompson, who took the win convincingly with rides of an 8.5 and 7.8, resulting in a heat total of 16.3 out of 20.

Founder of Made for More and event organiser, Julia Van Zyl said, “This event would not have been possible without our sponsors, our monthly donors and of course the water-assists and volunteers, who give of their time and skills so selflessly to help our contestants get waves and keep them safe in and out of the water. We feel so privileged and honoured to be a part of para surfing and the growth of sport for people with disabilities in South Africa.”

Spectators and the general community were screaming and cheering the surfers on, encouraging them on every single wave caught. “The vibe on the beach was loud, full of joy, laughs, pride and tears,” commented Van Zyl.

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