How the bodyboarding changed my life... #Learning

Thursday, November 21, 2013
How Bodyboarding Changed my Life.  #Learning.

Fast forward to May 2008.
 A year of learning, being taught and experiencing things have passed since I’ve been introduced to the sport. It involves many good and bad memories (mostly good).
 I was still a complete kook, barely knew how to “bottom turn” on a wave but nevertheless I had fun and I was hooked. It definitely was harder for me than many people I know. I remember some guys who started the sport after me, being 100 times better than me after like 5 sessions. Not that it bothered me. I was so focused on having fun, enjoying the ocean, the beautiful scenery and the exploring that I was barely intimidated by anyone or anybody better than me – mostly, since I was a Free-surfer, which means I’m doing it just for fun, where as others was super competitive.

By June 2008, I realised that it’s about time to upgrade my equipment. I came across a special of custom boards from Mr. Alistair Taylor – one of the best bodyboarders in South African history and he is highly respected worldwide.
 I read a lot of good reviews from bodyboarders all around the world about his boards and received a lot of recommendations from the guys on the Sixty40 bodyboarding forum.
I ended up ordering one of his boards, with my own custom colours and design. It was interesting learning things just by filling in an application form. I had to research like half the application form, just to learn what “Rail Angle”, “Tail shape” and all those terms mean. 
ATD Order Form

 I received the board about a month later. 
Alistair was kind enough to personally deliver the board directly to my house. It was pretty cool meeting a guy who I’ve been reading about in Magazines and saw him catching huge waves on International Bodyboarding films like “Tension” and “No Friends”.

My brand new ATD

Unfortunately, at that time when I got my board, it was in the middle of the Sardine Run. This meant surfing was banned all over the coast. During the Sardine Run, shoals of fish swims across the coast for about a month and lure all the big, bad Sharks from all over. Shark activity is 10 times higher during the Sardine Run, than any other time of the year, which theoretically, means you are more likely to get attacked by a shark and therefore they forbid us from going surfing at public beaches. Of course we can still go surf at secret, non-regulated beaches, but is it worth the risk?

Rocky bay during the Sardine Run - 2km South of Scottburgh.

I ended up only getting my first session in by the end of July. My first session on my new board sure was fun. Waves weren't good, but it was mellow, lots of people out and my friends were all over me trying to get a glimpse of this new board and had lots of laughs.
I realised how different this board is from my old one. It had channels which allowed the board to “grip” onto the wall of the wave and maintain speed. It is a small yet critical feature which my previous board didn't have.  The first few waves on the board were rather weird, I was stunned by how much more buoyant it was compared to my previous board and as a result it was a lot faster. It was really amazing how much I have learned in a couple of minutes, just by surfing on a different board.

After spending a few years in the water, the most significant skill I learned during my surfing experience, was learning how to predict wind direction, wave size and weather based on satellite images and charts. I didn’t even have Geography as a subject, yet I would know local weather patterns better than most people in that class.
My non-surfing friends would be stunned, if I tell them at school “I’m going to go surfing at exactly 16:15 because a really good wind would be arriving at 16:05, so the waves would be really fun!” or something in that line. And before we know it, it has happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I probably won’t be able to judge any other place except of the KZN coast, as that is my local knowledge, but I got all this knowledge and skills from no other reason, other than the influence that this sport had on me.
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Favourite Shark-Island Bodyboarding video

Monday, November 18, 2013
This is definitely one of my "All Time Favourite" bodyboarding videos. I think it's from Tension 7 or 8. 
The waves aren't as heavy as in other videos of the Island, but it has such a good vibe to it and the footage shot from the helicopter is pretty unique.

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How the bodyboarding changed my life... #The Accident

Sunday, November 17, 2013
A Series I'll be starting of how The Surfing and Bodyboarding lifestyle I lived during High School changed my life.


Going Back In Time ~~~~ February 2007 

I was 13 years old, new into High School and ready for the new “bigger” world to open up after I just finished Primary School. It was that time of my life that demanded that I try to “fit in” through good and bad, no matter what. 

One day, sometime during February I met up with some classmates after school at the Scottburgh beach, since that was the hangout spot for everyone and all the “cool” people was usually around the lifesaving area. 
Scottburgh Lifesaving Club

Now I was actually a super shy person, found it really hard to fit into the “surfing community” especially being from a fairly conservative Afrikaans family – or at least, I thought they were conservative. There’s a lot of truth about what we read and hear about surfers. Many of the stereotypes are true and many are not. And yes, grom-abuse is real, but luckily not as bad as in J-Bay or certain parts of Australia. – I’ll get back to that at a later stage.

Over time, of spending time on the beach and mostly just swimming in the ocean I finally bought an entry-level bodyboard and a pair of fins.

My very first session with my bodyboard and fins sure was a memorable one - well in a way. 

Walking towards the beach, one of the more experienced bodyboarders and classmate, Storm, pressured me into jump off point with him. Something I have never done in my life before, but I was up for it. I put on my fins and followed him further up the point. 

The jump at Scottburgh is pretty difficult compared to many other surf spots, as it requires good timing and judgement – and it all changes with the tides.
It was a pushing tide, which means the water got pretty high up to the rocks, so timing was crucial.

Scottburgh Point at Low Tide - Photo courtesy of Sean Meets

This is pretty much what I’m talking about. At High Tide, all those rocks gets covered by water and at low tide, it’s all exposed.

I got into the top part and watched how Storm jumped. It looked pretty simple. I walked down and saw a wave coming, which was my queue for the jump. As I walked down, my foot slipped within 2 seconds that huge wave came crashing against the rocks and washed my right off. The wave pushed me over reef, rocks and some mussel beds… I got up and saw I’m next to the easy exit gully. Luckily there weren’t any hectic currents so I could swim there easily. I got out and I just saw blood all over my legs and arms. Luckily Storm saw me bailing and caught a wave to check if I was still alive.  

After seeing that I look like a blood-factory, (honestly, I probably could've save someone's life with all the blood that was dripping down my legs) he walked me to the lifesaving first-aid room where my wounds got a little bit of treatment. 

I was so high on adrenaline that I didn't feel a bit of pain. Therefore, I wanted to go back into the water, till the lifeguard told me that I would be “Shark-bait” if I go into the ocean with all that open wounds. 

When I got home, my mum rushed to the pharmacy and bought like R400 worth of ointments and plasters. After my adrenaline stopped, the pain started and it hurt quite badly but nevertheless I was pumped, smiling and just wanted to tell everyone about what happened and how I “cheated death”..

I was back into the water 2 weeks later, for my real “first bodyboarding session” and more amped than ever.

The Lesson, I learned:  Don't let stupid mistakes put you off and stop you from ever trying again. I'm sure there's many people whom if something like this had to happen on his/her first surf, they would stop and never get back into the water again. NO REGRETS
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