The SA Open Kneeboard Championships at Port Alfred’s East Beach last weekend was hailed as a huge success, with Gigs Celliers emerging as the winner of the open section.
Adam Shapiro was a close second, and Port Alfred’s own Anton Wiersma was third.
Kneeboards were waxed, spirits were high, and adrenaline was even higher on the first day of the championships last Saturday. Thirty-six competitors from across the country took part, and the Kowie Boardriders Club (KBC) played host.
“There was a very high standard of surfing in 3-4 foot waves and slight offshore winds,” KBC media liaison Jess Bohnen said.
Priority judge Sunny Hill, Victor Coetzee and Warwick Heny controlled the colour coded priority board while the judges scored the kneeboarders on their waves. This was the first time the KBC had used the priority system.
“Everyone was gunning for the open final and the chance to be the overall winner, but there were other divisions as well, including vets, grandmasters, immortal and kahuna, and pro junior,” Bohnen said.
“Contest Director Mickey Witthuhn and Multiple World Champ Gigs Celliers had the crowd entertained most of the day with their commentary on the mic.”
The swell died down on Saturday afternoon, affecting a few heats where none of the competitors got a single wave during their 20 minutes in the water. But it picked up a little in the late afternoon, and some managed to get a decent ride.
Long-time local residents Frieda and Eldred Bradfield were faithful followers of the competition, honouring their late son Clinton Bradfield, who won the champs in 2000 before passing away in 2001.
A braai for the surfers was held at the Round Table clubhouse on Saturday night, where Witthuhn asked for a minute of silence for local surfing veteran Jannie du Preez, who had died a few days earlier.
“Sunday started off cloudy and the swell had picked up slightly,” Bohnen said. “Everyone was still in high spirits and the last 10 heats of the competition seemed to fly by, ending in an open final victory by Gigs Celliers.”
The prize giving was held in the parking lot with Stephen Cruickshank thanking everyone involved.
“There were some awesome prizes for all the champs including original paintings by Stephen van der Watt, cash prizes, medals, rooibos tequila and leashes,” Bohnen said.
The KBC is hoping to host the kneeboarders again next year.
Legends: 1 Paddy Laroque, 2 Pierre Jevon, 3 Mike Theys, 4 Johnny Walker
Grandmasters: 1 Adam Shapiro, 2 Kurt Rogers, 3 Richard Jordaan, 4 Mike de Heer
Vets: 1 Stephen Cruikshank, 2 Craig Seale, 3 Roman Rezak, 4 Mike Ruthnum, 5 Johan Rademan
Seniors: 1 Marc Barry, 2 Leigh Gilmour, 3 Tom Grey, 4 Jedd McNeilage
Pro Juniors: 1 Chris Rosie, 2 Brad Labuschagne, 3 Cheyne Robertson, 4 Deryk du Einbein
Masters: 1 Anton Wiersma, 2 Steve Palmer, 3 Lester Sweetman, 4 Mark Mattison, 5 Warren Matthews
Immortal and Kahuna: 1 Andy Fermor, 2 Mervyn Lee, 3 Grant Robertson, 4 Ian Hollander, 5 Billy McCarthy
Open: 1 Gigs Celliers, 2 Adam Shapiro, 3 Anton Wiersma, 4 Lester Sweetman