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South African Surfing

Go Surf

by Warwick Wright / 11.07.2011

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god. South Africa currently enjoys the undivided attention of the surfing world. Thanks to two back to back 8-10 foot swells that lit up the Mr Price Pro. People are claiming it as the best WQS event outside of Hawaii, ever. And coming up is the Billabong Pro in J-Bay, widely regarded as the best wave on the World Tour. So it’s a good time to talk about the elephant in the corner of the room. While Jordy basks in the limelight, up there in the stratosphere of the world’s elite surfers where the hell are the rest of South Africa’s surfing prospects. Who is going to qualify for the Championship Tour next year? Is there even another South African surfer knocking on that door? Or is Jordy set to be a South African competitive anomaly, like our last world champion; 70s tuberiding legend, Shaun Tomson?

And it seems to be a recurring line of questioning. I’ve always been on the other side of the fence when it comes to South Africa’s pro surfers and WCT hopefuls. I used to be in that position, coming home from another WQS event with a first heat knock out, licking my wounds and thinking up excuses for why I wasn’t getting results. I spat fire and fury to journalists and surf veterans sitting behind their laptop screens at coffee shops, skinnering and passing judgment on why the current crop of South Africans weren’t getting results, why we will never make it. And the reason it infuriated me so much was because these state-of-the-nation media hecklers were so clueless. 90% percent of them don’t surf or can’t surf but for some reason rate their opinions as highly as if they were some sort of Kelly Slater geniuses. As if their word is truth.

No, no, no that shit stops here. You want answers? How about I give you some facts. But hey, whatever I say could be utter bullshit, what would I know? I only did the tour for 7 years and I never qualified. I wasn’t fit enough. I was too jetlagged. My boards were shit. There were no waves in my heat… I’ll tell you this in all honesty, and I can say this now without giving a shit: I didn’t want it bad enough! I had my results. I won a world junior title for my country. I care not what people say of me.

South African Surfing

A lot of pros moan about the country we come from. Finances are always an issue and stability is very hard to come by, but we are well off, let me tell you. We moan at how companies won’t pay us enough, we have to listen to bullshit about recessions, which means budget cuts and trust me that doesn’t leave our confidence too high, knowing that we’re riding on our sponsor’s last penny. In the back of your mind, going to a contest knowing all of that, but still trying to push out big results, is hard. Little things like these are the fine print that the so called “experts” leave out. You might have watched the Mr Price every year for the last decade but that right there my friends, is our speciality event, our bread and butter, it’s like doing Survivor and winning immunity. We should rule. And yet South Africans struggle to hold down the podium places. Jordy was the only South African in the semis. The rest of the field were left behind in first and second rounds. We’re endlessly being pipped by Australians, Brazilians and Seppos at our homebreak as well as everywhere else.

All I hear about now is the void that Jordy Smith has left between himself and the rest of the upcoming surfers, whoever that might be. I’m guessing we’re talking about Dale Staples, Sean Joubert, Beyrick de Vries and so forth. What will become of them? Will they qualify for the elite tour? They all look like they’re having a great time, surfing sick and making names for themselves… but who can say? One good run could send them on their way, but it depends on how bad they want it. It also depends on who really wants it. Them or their parents? That’s another confusing aspect affecting the future of these kids. How far can they be pushed before they decide to go and get it for themselves?

Bottom line, surfing has stepped up its game. It’s increasingly more technical and more professional. You might as well wear a suit and tie to the beach nowadays. So please, don’t ever compare our surfers to the world champions 25 years ago when there were only 50 people, world wide, doing the tour. This is here and this is now, the tour changed, the tour got bigger, the tour got better, and sure as shit the surfing got better. Jordy Smith was our future and that’s now our present. As far as I’m concerned he’s the best surfer in the world. And because he’s South African, he surfs for me, you and everybody else who holds that green booklet. As for the rockstar persona… Jordy’s earned it. But I see a lot of it coming up the ranks from the next generation, but I don’t see any results to justify it. Kids worrying more about the sprays on their boards and who’s wearing tighter jeans… Wanna be a rockstar? Join a fucking band. You wanna be a world champ, go surf.

South African Surfing

See more of Wok’s rantings here.

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RESPONSES (28)
  1. Anonymous says:

    wok!! this is sick! fuck your english teacher bro!

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  2. adam says:

    Maybe you should be in surf media very well said direct and to the point

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  3. gareth says:

    Just when I was beginning to think you’d lost the plot and turned stupid, you come up with a gem. well said, every aspiring kid should read this.

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  4. anonymous says:

    This article’s sick! Nice wok.

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  5. Lewis says:

    Maybe they just don’t want to be on something as corny as the WQS. Pro surfing is too much of a sport now.Full of jocks concerned about points. If you want to be an athlete, join a team.

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  6. Goof Troop says:

    Touche Wok ! Lewis you are obviously a Kook , ask any surfer who rips what they want !

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  7. Andy says:

    Lewis are you seriously trying to justify mediocrity?!

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  8. Lewis says:

    HA, I’m not justifying mediocrity. It should be more like skateboarding, where contests don’t matter. It can never become like that now anyway. It should be about who is the coolest. Alex Knost wins.

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  9. dustin says:

    Very true words amigo, the requests come in thick and fast yet the results are min
    As for that previous caller, if u aint got anything constructive to say rather keep it inside
    U obviously has 0 knowledge about anything that wok is talking about
    What jordy is doing is unreal and hopefully will inspire the rest of the troop to step up and want it
    “Oh, have u seen his chick”

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  10. Irwy says:

    Top artical Boss…

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  11. kook says:

    Lewis – definately a kook.

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  12. Jaco says:

    Great in your face valid opinion! Its all about how much you want it.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    South African surfers R O C K!!!

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  14. Reader says:

    Tell ’em Wok. The simple fact is that apart from Jordy (and Ricky and possibly Royden,) our surfers SIMPLY. AREN’T. GOOD. ENOUGH. Look at video parts and things like Innersection which do a great job of showing who out there is doing what. Sure, we’ve got some cats that pop reverse airs and the odd shuv at will but that’s just not gonna cut it any more. SA has too many groms who kinda rip and think they’re the tits but just won’t stand out in any kind of crowd overseas. Like Wok says, all these kids think they’re the shit and paddle around like they’re the next Jordy but they’re not and all that’s going to happen is they’re going to hack it on the QS for a couple of years, achieve nothing and come home to a cushy marketing job at whatever brand sponsored him for the pat coupe of years. Groms- listen to the Wok, if you want to make it then go make it, stop with the “cooler than thou” shit and get it done.

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  15. BigG says:

    This a classic Wok, couldnt have said it better myself. Youve blown me away with your insight, diction and grammar too. Clare Ellis Browne rulez Dude!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    a lot of the comments here prove that surfing, on a commercial scale, has indeed been given over to the jocks. Lewis made the best post in this whole thread.

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  17. wok says:

    surfing is a sport
    and everything i wrote about here was about “surfers who are athletes”

    and the day you realise it is a sport and a career for these kids is the day you will stop smoking zol and painting flowers and realise how talented we as country are

    and who knows one day you might let your kids follow that path of a pro surfer which you sound so envious of

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  18. Sam says:

    Rightly said Wok!

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  19. Captain Kai says:

    Great article! Wok is so media savvy it scares me!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    well, wok earns R20k a month from a prominent surf company.just saying……

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  21. TheGeneral says:

    A very great read and very true article.

    Im no surfer, but this applies to most sports and extreme sports out there. If you want it bad enough, go get it.

    Surfing, FMX, skating were all “for the love of it” sports 20-25 years ago, now its a professional job. Step up to the plate and earn it if you want it.

    So who is giving me surf lessons? whahaaa

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  22. misfitgirl says:

    eh… is anonymous also a surfer and jealous maybe ? wok says it like it is !! awesome article!! it would be nice though if the south african companies pay all their pro surfers here ,,,and the photographers worldwide that send in the rad piks… i have seen it again and again how they try get them for free to run as ad’s etc… anyway..thats a whole nother topic… and yes,,,grommies need more grommi treatment too to help rid the rockstar syndrome –

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  23. stone says:

    amazing piece,nice work jun jun

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  24. cuan says:

    About time someone had the balls to stand up for the truth ,big up boss!

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  25. TheRealDeal says:

    Maybe if you spent less time whining bout why you’re a loser and more time in the water, you would actually start seeing real results. The key to winning in any sport is practice. Perfect your craft and push your own boundaries.” Wanting it bad” is simply not enough, you need the skills to back it up

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  26. Curtis Strange says:

    @ Anonymous July 13 – WTF does Wok’s salary have to do with his ability to provide an opinion!

    Jun Jun , well said my mate.Your clarity has suprised me , maybe you should consider surf journalism…hahahaha!

    “Wanna be a rockstar? Join a fucking band. You wanna be a world champ, go surf.”

    Talk about the nail on the head , except for Dane Reynolds , but even he doesn’t know what he wants…7 figure contracts and the hippy lifestyle provide quite an anomaly!

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  27. Skunk says:

    Mmm, nice piece…BUT…it’s nothing that has not being said before. The last issue of Zigzag had this very angle in an article by Jarvi. This is just the same story coming from a first-hand account. But a good read nonetheless.

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  28. cnut says:

    More iamwok.com twaddle!

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