Ferocious “six- to eight-foot” (2.4-metre) walls of storm-driven groundswell had scores of SA surfers in a froth yesterday at Nahoon Reef for the second day of the Mercedes-Benz SA Senior and Masters Championship.
Surfers still measure waves in feet, which is a metaphor for increments of fear and respect, and today the waves are expected be more than double that size, said Surfing SA general manager Robin de Kock.
Scores of surfers from SA will have to gird their loins if they are expected to go out and ride waves as high as “20-foot” (5 metres).
The event marks the start of a three-year partnership between Buffalo City Metro and MBSA who sponsored the national surf development programme based in the city.
Surfing SA said in a statement that Buffalo City had become “the official home of the SA surfing team”.
The alliance, which includes training of young surfers, judges, coaches and administrators, is part of the buildup to the 2020 Olympic Games, which, for the first time, will include surfing.
The 52nd premier SA masters champs is currently celebrating its seventh year in the city since hosting the iconic World Surfing Championship in 1978.
It will run until Sunday.
De Kock said: “You have to be very good because of the challenging conditions out here at the Reef.
“We expect up to 20-foot surf [today] which is double the size we’re currently experiencing today which will be the biggest swell coming in.
“The really great thing about our surfers who made it to this level is that they are all determined to win a national title, so the competition is really good.”
De Kock said: “We want to teach kids how to surf. Coaches, judges and administrators will be trained here in the city.
“We are trying to create something like Jeffreys Bay because Nahoon Reef is well known for its swells, which would make it a really good spot to grow this competition.”
BCM’s Greg Emslie, a former WCT campaigner and multiple SA championship winner, said:
“I always feel good surfing at Nahoon, not to talk myself up beforehand, but I feel fit and my boards are in a good condition so I feel good about my chances.
“It is very exciting because we have a big surf coming and everyone around here is excited about watching the best surfers,” he said.
There are eight teams taking part in the competition from across the country and will perform in 157 heats throughout.
Another international name and SA champion, Heather Clark of KwaZulu-Natal, said surfing the Reef felt like “coming home”.
“I don’t enjoy miserable waves but I do enjoy a good six to eight foot wave.”
Speaking at Monday’s official opening at Old Selbornians in East London, MBSA corporate affairs manager Feliciano Janneker told 250 surfers and supporters:
“As an interested corporate citizen, we continue with our commitment to support sport in our communities, and encourage it as a vehicle for transformation.”
BCM sports development manager Manelisi Lwana welcomed the visitors and thanked them for coming. — With additional reporting by Mike Loewe