HITTING THE WAVES: TotT reporter Louise Knowles took surfing lessons from Shaka Surfschool instructor, David Macgregor, on East Beach on Saturday December 17 Picture: CUAN MACGREGOR
STANDING on a sandbar sandbank at low tide on a hot Saturday afternoon with foamies running all the way to shore, and with the help of surfing instructor Dave Macgregor, of Shaka Surfschool, I aimed to experience the best feeling in the world – standing up on a surfboard.
The name of Shaka Surfschool is inspired by the Hawaiian “shaka” greeting with your pinky finger and thumb raised, meaning “hello” or “cool”.
“We have run a surf school for years in Port Alfred and decided to do it properly this year and even got international training and accreditation,” said Macgregor.
Sponsor, Billabong SA, helps with wetsuits and other surf essentials to run the school, such as the shaka logo on the van (which was designed by Cat Stephens from Positive Signs).
“My grandfather, Ronald Roderick, started surfing in 1927 and passed it on to my dad, Stuart, and my uncles. My dad was also a champion lifeguard,” said Macgregor.
The family business including young Kye, 12, and Cuan, 19, is run by all South African champs.
“Cuan won SA championship in longboards in under 16 followed a year later by me [in the kahuna section] and then Kye won under 14 this year,” said Macgregor.
“I have stoked them on surfing since they were toddlers and have helped many others become good surfers too. They surf daily and we video sessions to help improve them,” he said.
Cuan qualified as a level 1 surfing coach at a surfing coaching course in Durban offered by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and is one of the only ISA qualified coaches on the Sunshine Coast. His next step is level 2 coaching which is intended for elite surfer contest preparation.
“Cuan hopes to get level 2 soon and I will also get my official paperwork in the new year,” said Macgregor.
If Port Alfred benefits from competitions like the 2015 Quiksilver competition, the new surf school will help put the town on the map. How does Port Alfred stack up compared to PE, Jeffreys Bay, Bali and Waikiki?
“PA is a great surf destination… that’s why I live here,” said Macgregor. “Competitions are good for the town and for stoking local groms (beginners).”
What kind of people come to the surf school, eg foreigners, locals, young and old and black kids especially seem to be entering the sport.
“People come from all over the world and in all shapes and ages. Andrew Laverge has huge potential and is part of our elite grom coaching. We also plan to do development outreaches next year.”
Next year Cuan will study psychology at Rhodes in the hope of improving his surf coaching skills, and will also coach on weekends. It is hoped that his coaching in December will help pay for his studies.
If you’re interested in trying Shaka Surfschool for lessons, bring your own suntan lotion. Wet suits and special beginner’s boards are provided. A typical lesson might involve practicing pop-ups on the beach and catching waves with a friendly push. Unfortunately, the pop-up is not as easy as it looks.
But even if you don’t manage to stand up the first time, Macgregor believes anyone can learn to surf, even if, like me, they are 50 years old!
There are different rates for lessons depending if in-a-group or one-on-one. Contact Shaka Surfschool at East Beach, on Facebook or phone Dave Macgregor on 082-335-4764.