Seeing that Tuesday was Woman’s Day, myself and the family headed off to Still Bay a week early for some quality family time. For myself it was going to be a big weekend. But not because of the contest. And let me put it straight – as the defending Juniors Champion and this year’s not-even-close-to-the-finals contestant, I personally think I am entitled to say this : The Vintners Surf Classic is not a contest! Dragonstone Wines put it even more accurately: “if this contest is about the competition for you, you’re a sad case”. It’s about nature, food, beer, wine, friendships – all glued together by the sport of surfing. For me it was a BIG weekend because it marked, yet again (for the second time in 4 years), my return to surfing. The combination of a 2 week stint of strength-sucking glandular fever and carrying a bunch of 18kg grape-filled lug boxes, landed me a Brachial Plexus injury. In layman’s terms: Thoracic outlet syndrome. Bottom line: All the muscles around my right shoulder blade shut down. There was nothing left to support my scapula, so whenever I used my right arm my scapula popped out of its socket. In the 4 months following the initial injury, I could basically not use my arm at all. It was then that fellow surfer and biokinetist Philip Nel from Bokkie Blaauw and partners in Somerset West took me in. Subsequently, last weekend, after 2 months of training (and 6 months without surfing) I had the go-ahead from the expert to go for my first (gentle) surf .
Friday morning, a brisk offshore greeted us at Sandstrand, Jongensfontein. Even though the tide was still low you could clearly see that we were about to witness an incredible day in nature. Great call made early morning by Tamboerskloof and Tokara. The event is hugely supported by sponsors (Rip Curl, Reynolds Rocha, Sports Unlimited, Nixon, ZigZag, Ecostake, Vitamin Water, Thales, Taquanta, Tonnelerie Bordelaise, Rotolabel, Consol & Cool and Dandy). This means a goodie bag, a bottle of The BIG red (a blend made up of wine from each contestant), food for the day, cool drinks, beer on the beach and afterwards a reception and prize giving. The conditions improved all day long and by the time I paddled out it was perfect. The current worked well for me, pulling me out to the line-up without severe paddling from my side. But, on the other hand, the current did not help Goedehoop Winery (my partner in BLACK and THE WHITE BLACK) that much when he got swept out to sea and Winelands Estate Management had to suit up for the rescue paddle. Anyhow, both of them were acknowledged at the prize giving that night – Goedehoop received the “Shark-bait award” and WEM “The Hoff award” (David Hasselhoff). In the meantime great action took place when The Sadie Family showed just a bit more consistency in order to take out Tokara, with Beaumont Wines fighting for a place in the Semi’s. Anyway, with a little help from Nederburg, my half arm took me to the semi’s when a razor sharp Cape Point Vineyards did to me what he does to most other Sauvignon blanc’s: kicked my butt. In the junior finals, the younger guys came through with consistency. Le Riche and Remhoogte giving De Vallei and Cape Point Vineyards a run for their money. Cape Point vineyards took the win with a few huge backhand hacks , De Vallei second. In the Ballies division epic surfing went down. These guys age well. Tamboerskloof took the trophy yet again with Ecostake a close second. Reyneke Wines really ripped in the early rounds but struggled to get the right waves in the finals, taking a 3rd position with Newton Johnson Wines in 4th. In the Older Ballies final (44 and older) it was tough as usual. Brammon Wines took on Takana vineyards for first place but Takana sneaked a win with some of the best backhand surfing of the contest with the 3rd and 4th spots filled with ever present Conspirae and Taquanta. The ladies trophy was taken by Trizanne Signature Wines, who happened to have had a baby a mere 3 months before the event.
The evening function at Stables Restaurant rocked. For some more than others. I happened to overheard the venue’s owner speaking to clients whom she had to show away due to the private function: “Yes, we have a rough night ahead of us, we work hard and go to bed very very late, but at least it’s only once a year!”. We had an epic spot prize giving with Joubert Tradouw Wines winning the Best Wipeout Award (The most spectacular fall on a wave), Noble Hill Wines spending most time in the water, Douglas Green Bellingham winning The Best Barrel Award (when you position yourself within the power section of a wave so that it breaks over you) and the Blow-out Award (Blowing a perfectly set up barrel by face planting) went to Wazu Wines.
And then for the biggest prizes of the evening: 2 surfboards. The one went to Douglas Green Bellingham and the other… to BLANKbottle. My first ever lucky draw win!!! SPECTACULAR!!!!!!! Thank you Tonnelerie Bordelaise!
The next morning I had to stop by Stables to pick up my daughter Alexa’s little pink top that we had left behind. Whilst going through the heap of lost and found, I got a clear indication of who ended up on the bar counter…