After the event, a very happy crew of surfers driving in convoy through the wild flowers out of the Namakwa with everyone eager to go back next year.
THE NORTHERN Cape Namakwa Challenge came to an end on Tuesday with organisers declaring the competitive surfing event that ran between August 23-31 a huge success.
The Namakwa Challenge was based on the old Billabong Challenge events that ran in Australia in the Nineties. The concept was taking top competitive surfers, with some hard charging, free surfers and a few young rising stars, to a remote and wild destination, with very testing, but perfect waves. And this, the first South African pro surfing event since Covid began, certainly ticked all these boxes.
Eventual winner of the grand prize, Dale Staples called the Namakwa Challenge ‘one of the best’ he’s ever competed in. “This was one of the best events I have ever been to,” said Staples, “This is one of my favourite places on the planet and to have a contest here, coming for the week with such a great crew of people, was truly a blessing.
“I came here to win the event and I am beyond happy to have achieved that goal. I was blown away by some of the younger surfers, who I thought would be intimidated by this wave. Joshe Faulkner (Amandla Surf Foundation Star) especially, as I have seen him ripping in QT events and at home in Jbay, but here he did not hold back and was one of the surfers of the event in my opinion.”
Staples went on to express his appreciation to everyone who helped put together the competition. “I just want to thank all the sponsors, organisers and especially the people of the Northern Cape for having us and I really hope this stays as an annual event.
“We need more events in this format in South Africa.”
Northern Cape Tourism and the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports, brought six youngsters from Hondeklip Bay to check out the free surfing and meet the surfers. After a morning with their host, Angelo Faulkner, they were all very enthused with surfing and could not wait for the Amandla Surf foundation team to return to Hondeklip Bay later this year to do surf clinics with them.
Luke Thompson, the youngest surfer in the contest said that he was blown away with the event. “Yeww that was a mental event! Just wanted to say a huge congrats to everyone and a massive thank you to all the event organizers, judges, cooks, water safety, photographers, medic,” Thompson enthused. “And a huge thanks to Dutchie and Kai for managing all the drama and wild conditions like kings!
“Was one of the best trips I’ve ever done and I was honored to be a part of such an amazing event,” he added.
After a Covid outbreak forced organisers to move the event, the remote and isolated Namakwaland Beachbreak was a revelation for all involved.
While logistics were very difficult for Event Director, Kai Linder and his team, with no electricity, water, toilets or any infrastructure at the site and the closest town and hospital over an hour away, the beautiful landscape and incredible waves had some of the 20 surfers claiming this as the best event in South African surfing history.
Linder and his team expressed their gratitude for the people and organisations of the surrounding communities that helped them make the event run so smoothly.
“A massive thank you to the event sponsors, Northern Cape Tourism, Billabong Adventure Division, Thrifty/Britz/Maui vehicle rental and the Coffee Guy,” they said in a statement.
“Also thank you to Braam and his wife on the farm where the event was based for all their help, as well as the local police, police search and rescue and all the locals that supported and helped on the event,” the statement went on to say.
Despite challenging conditions through the week, eventually a window of perfect conditions presented itself.
“We got a slim chance of epic conditions for the final morning, so we decided to run the second round in slightly onshore and very big conditions at the beach. It was the perfect call as we woke to grooming offshore breezes and absolutely firing waves,” Linder said.
In the end, the stand out surfers were eventual winner Staples and Koby Oberholzer, who both found massive tubes which had the crew screaming from the dunes.
Staples found two intense barrel waves, a left and a right and these helped him to just take the lead, which he held onto to take the win and the very first winners cheque of the Namakwa Challenge.
After things wrapped up, it was a very happy crew of surfers driving in convoy through the wild flowers out of the Namakwa with everyone eager to go back next year.
1st: Dale Staples – R45,000
2nd: Slade Prestwich – R20,000
3rd: Koby Oberholzer – R10,000
4th: Steven Sawyer – R5,000