I chat to WSL Championship Tour, rookie, Matthew McGillivray from the Gold Coast. What has it been like starting your CT career only to have it stalled by the lockdown? What has lockdown been like in Australia? What are his thoughts on the new WSL formats for the tours, announced this week? Why does he love BASE jumping? These are just some of the subjects we cover in the 30 minute interview.
We also chat surfboards and Matt’s relationship with Graham and Jordy Smith with the new brand, SMTH Shapes.
Lets Feed Jbay
We also chat about his home town and the incredible movement right now to feed the poor community of Jbay!
Fans of the Captain Kai’s World show on, 2 Oceans Vibe Radio, have been badgering me to start up the show again. With the current Corona Lockdown, I thought it was the perfect time to start chatting with some of the world’s best action sports athletes again. So, welcome to #TheLockdown with Captain Kai. The first guest, Steven Sawyer.
Episode 1 – Steven Sawyer
I could not think of a better person for my first Episode than good friend and World Longboarding Champion, Steven Sawyer. One of the most talented surfers I know, he equally rips on a shortboard or longboard. Growing up in Jbay with a famous shaper as a Dad, he has been blessed with crazy talent both on the board and when making them, plus he is an exceptional musical talent. Hope you enjoy the first Episode.
Help Steven Sawyer & friends support the #letsFeedJbay Initiative
Help Steezy and the Jbay Pro Surfers raise money to feed the local community. Unfortunately, the current 35 day lockdown in South Africa has forced all non-essential businesses into closure and left thousands of wage earning employees in Jbay without any income.Please help us raise money that can go towards purchasing food and distributing it to those most in need.
Coming up next week I chat with Bmx superstar, Kevin Peraza, from the States. This guy is at the forefront of Bmx and rides for Monster Energy, Vans and Mangoose Bmx. He would have been in South Africa last month for Ultimate X, if not for the Lockdown.
If you enjoy the show, please share the love and subscribe to the Blog and the Youtube Channel – Thanks
With the whole world watching as Mozambique deals with tragedy after a massive cyclone, we are reminded by this video what an incredible place it is. The surf spot Jordy Smith surfs in this video in right where the tragedy has struck and if you want to help, please go here and support the beautiful people of Mozambique – Help the Children
Jordy Smith looks good!
It has to be said, Jordy Smith looks ready for an assault on the world title this year. With the first event of the year around the corner, at a wave that looks very similar to this one, it could be a great start to the year.
Snapper Rocks suits the big guy’s surfing. With a solid rail game, good tube riding and of course those mental airs, I am sure he features in most people’s Fantasy picks.
Watch the Video
So without further ado, watch Jordy Smith annihilate long, tropical walls of blue bliss in Mozambique. Not many surfers I would rather watch…
I have partnered with WSL and AirBnB to host a Surf Experience in my home town. I will take you surfing, film some clips for you and show you the best food, coffee and hang out spots in the St Francis area.
Take Home Memories
I film with the best surfers in the World and now you can benfit from my experience. Not only do you get to take away some clips of your surfing, to show off to your friends back home, but watching your surfing on video is the best way to improve your surfing. As a WSL commentator, I can give you valuable feedback and analysis of your surfing.
Surf Experience and Local Tips
I will give you not only great surf advice for the local area, but also where the best spots to shop, eat and have a good time are.
With the start of the City Surf Series, now in its second year, with a new event added in Port Alfred and two of the events going to QS 1500, its set to be a good year for Pro Surfers in South Africa. The series started with the first 3 events back to back, starting in Port Elizabeth, then Port Alfred and then East London. Events in Cape Town, the SA Open back in PE and an event in Durban making it the biggest surf series in Africa for a long time. There is also the Vans West Coast Surf Classic (QS 1500) and of course the Ballito Pro (QS 10000).
Nelson Mandela Bay Pro Presented by Billabong
There has been a lot of talk about Kai Woolf, with surf raconteur Derek Hynd long expounding her skills and talents as world class. Growing up on the walls of Lower Point and then Supertubes in J-Bay, she has honed her backhand skills to a point where she can often seems totally unbeatable.
Not known as ‘The Windy City’ for nothing, the contest site had the full wind switch during the event, that made for some challenging conditions through a few of the finals. After blowing light onshore and making the waves difficult to find walls and thus high scores, there was a story that a gale-force west wind was heading up the coast. As forecast, it hit the contest site during the women’s final, causing the surfers to change their approaches somewhat.
It didn’t faze young Kai though, who is used to surfing the waves of J-Bay in the howling offshore winds that are common there, and which see surfers carving off the top or turning mid-face to ensure that they don’t get stuck in the lip and blown off the back of the wave. Her approach was successful, and she put Sophie Bell, Anna Jellema-Butler and Olivia Izzard into the minor placings in the JQS final, and defeated Nicole Pallet in the Women’s final.
Kai has a long and illustrious professional surfing career ahead of her. Her brave approach when the waves get solid at places like Supertubes draws admiration from surfers and spectators, and she has been winning junior events for a good few years now.
It was an exciting men’s final, and a proud moment for David Van Zyl, who took the win from Adin Masencamp. Van Zyl is a hard-working WQS campaigner and this win might see him off on a trajectory that could get him into the big leagues that he is striving for. Without wishing to detract from Adin’s performance throughout the event – he was electric from his first heat – Van Zyl is relentless on the Qualifying Series, and this excellent result is just what is needed to get him fired up and winning more heats and events. He’s highly skilled in all conditions, charges when it gets bigger, and has the full repertoire of aerial moves when it’s smaller and punchy. Van Zyl could possibly be the next South African to climb on and represent on the Championship Tour alongside Jordy Smith and Michael February.
Royal St Andrews Port Alfred Classic
Port Alfred – Solid right-handers poured through for the final day of the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic and it was the goofy-footers who displayed the best surfing all day in the chunky conditions.
The right-foot forward duo of Josefina Ane from Argentina and South African Zoë Steyn paddled out for their Women’s QS 1,000 Final, and the waves continued unabated. While the big swell that was forecast for the day had still not materialized, the waves were highly contestable and the girls went to town.
It was the international surfer Ane who showed her experience by banking an awesome display of surfing for a 6.25 and a 7.5 to put her in an unassailable lead total of 13.75. While young Steyn put on a valiant catch-up effort towards the end of the Final she was unable to better the Argentinean’s total, and bowed out in second place.
By the time the Men’s Longboarding final hit the water, the predicted swell had started filling in, and the next two goofy-footers in Matthew Moir and Steven Sawyer spent some of their time dodging bigger sets and picking up the lined-up mid-size waves. Both of them were charging hard, but it was Moir who picked up the better waves, and banked some massive close-out turns on the inside, as well as a number of classic longboarding moves to sneak the win from Sawyer. After a long layoff due to injury, Sawyer was still incredibly stoked to be surfing a WSL Longboarding event in South Africa.
Both surfers were on fire during their Semifinal heats, with Maree surfing a fast and exciting heat against Dylan Lightfoot, showing no pressure as he unleashed his lethal backhand against his determined natural-footed opponent. At the end of the heat Maree proved the heel is mightier than the toe as his backhand power hooks outshone Lightfoot’s fast forehand carves.
“I was just really glad the waves came to me during that heat,” said Maree afterwards.
The second Semifinal was even more electrifying with the fresh-faced Australian Lawler coming up against experienced competitor and Championship Tour strategy-savvy Greg Emslie. Lawler started off with a great 8-point ride, but then he picked up a bomb running along the sandbank and unleashed.
Lawler found rhythm and put together a series of radical backhand moves, carves and big hits, and finished off with a massive beyond vertical backhand crack to score the first 10-point ride of the event and leave the veteran in a combination situation at the end of the heat.
The Final was an intense affair, with Maree putting on some incredible backhand surfing against the focused Lawler. A few bigger sets rumbled through the line-up during the final as the two surfers went toe-to-toe amongst the lined-up inside sections.
Maree showed determination and perseverance as he put together a great show for the screaming local fans, being awarded a solid 7.25 for his best wave, and a back-up wave of 6.45 to give him a decent total and a hard reach for the Australian.
Lawler put together an incredible series of radical backhand moves including a long re-entry to air-drop floater, but his 6.9 score wasn’t enough to get him the lead, and the very stoked and proud South African took his first QS win.
Mitchum Buffalo City Pro presented by Reef Wetsuits
Nahoon Reef – It was a glorious April morning in East London as the competitors started filing in for finals day of the Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres by Reef Wetsuits. Despite the ominous forecasts of monster surf and onshore winds that had been swirling around the whole weekend, the swell filled in to about six-foot on a few of the sets, the wind puffed a little, backed off, and then disappeared altogether, and the waves fired throughout the afternoon’s pushing tide. Powerful, high-performance right-hand walls reeling down the reef for competitors to get busy with.
Dale Staples, from St. Francis Bay, has been looking the business at this QS 1,000 event, and he continued with this streak by eliminating local legend and former Championship Tour competitor Greg Emslie from the event, despite breaking a board during their Semifinal heat.
Staples has been groomed on the right-hand pointbreaks of his home turf, and has surfed East London’s Nahoon Reef enough times to know where to find the good ones. While not a massively-scored heat, (Staples won with 12.25 total) it was exciting and high-performance, with both surfers going all-out to impress the judges and claim the win.
In the second Semifinal Diran Zakarian from Cape Town was in the lead for most of the heat, surfing impressively on his backhand in the excellent surf. Matthew McGillivray from J-Bay, currently the highest-ranked surfer on the International QS rankings, was left scratching for a back-up wave, which he found. A clean, walled-up bomb, on which McGillivray unleashed to extract a score of 9.25 and the heat win, to advance to the Final.
“The swell picked up today, and there was supposed to be a light onshore coming through today but it never happened,” said McGillivray after his heat victory. “Conditions are really nice to surf heats, you just need to be selective on your wave choice and make sure you catch the waves that allow opportunities to get those critical moves in.”
McGillivray picked up a bomb and made good use of it for the 9.25 score. “Diran got a wave first and I saw it was a nice, walled up one and he just cracked it in front of me and I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m definitely going to need a score now,” said McGillivray. “Right behind his wave was a second wave with a nice wall and I took it. I saw the first section and it looked good for an air, so I did an air-reverse and thankfully stuck it, and straight after that there was another section to do a top turn, and it went well and I got the score.”
Over at the JQS 1,000 the future of South African men’s surfing were laying it down, streaking along the excellent Nahoon walls, and going for broke on the sets. Spectators’ eyes were locked onto Mitch Du Preez, who had been surfing on-point the whole event, as well as on Luke Slijpen, who was hungry after missing the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic last week.
The placings changed throughout the Final, with Luke Thompson, Thomas Lindhorst, Du Preez and Slijpen all leading at some stage of the heat, but at the final siren it was Thompson winning from Lindhorst, Slijpen and Du Preez.
Staples opened up the QS 1,000 final with an 8.5 in the high tide conditions, surfing powerfully and with confidence. He followed this up immediately with a great back up score of 7 points, and McGillivray was on the ropes and in deep in combo-land only a few minutes into the heat.
Expecting the plucky J-bay surfer to fight back with tenacity, McGillivray unfortunately suffered an interference call with Staples, and with a zero score included in his tally, there was no way he could extricate himself from the runner-up position. A stoked Dale Staples emerged from the waters of Nahoon Reef as the Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro 2018 champion.
A great start to the year for SA surfing woth three incredible events – all with insane waves. Best part for me was seeing the inclusion of longboard again and the crew came to the party with some of the best surfing on the series in the longboard heats. Next up the tour heads for Durban, then Lamberts Bay and Cape Town.
The VANS Surf Pro Classic at Lamberts Bay went down in epic surf up the Weskus of South Africa. With the best local and a few quality international drop-ins, the surfing on display was of the highest quality imaginable!
The first standout was undoubtably the waves at Yoyos at Lamberts Bay. The South African Trestles as its affectionately called by myself and others delivered highly contestable surf. The other standout was Michael February, Mfeb to his friends, who has been on a tear in the City Surf Series. Mfeb never looked like losing and eventually took out his best mate, David Van Zyl, in the incredible final.
Vans Surf Pro Classic
The Event grows every year and is fast proving popular with even international surfers. This is great news for both local surfers and the local community as it brings much needed tourism revenue to the very poor area. I hope this event grows into a bigger event and perhaps even a WSL 10000 one day.
In 2017 South Africa was finally blessed with an extended WSL Qualifying circuit locally. The inaugural City Surf Series, presented by Volkswagen South Africa, brought WSL 1000 events to Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Cape Town, with the additional WSL 3000, SA Open of Surfing also in Durban.
Looking back at the series, it is not hard to see the incredibly positive impact the series has had on South African Surfing. With 3 wins in the 1000’s, Michael February is now 2nd in the world on the Qualifying tour, after a great result in in the 10000 at Ballito as well. With Jordy Smith currently World Number 1, this is a great time for surfing in our country.
The series also gave our top junior surfers the opportunity to surf at WSL level, against the older more experienced guys and against some tough international competition.
Nelson Mandela Bay
The first event, the Billabong Nelson Mandela Pro, was held at the Pipe, in Port Elizabeth. The first ever professional surfing event in the town. The conditions were not ideal, but the field of hungry SA surfers put on an incredible show for the local surf fans.
Next up the series moved to East London, where the competitive surf area’s locals were excited to be surfing against the best of the rest of the country in a professional event. Nahoon Reef delivered for the, Reef Buffalo City Pro and the surfers reveled in the long walls at the iconic surf spot.
The City Surf Series then moved to the long time home of Pro surfing in South Africa, Durban. The Corona Durban Surf Pro saw an increase if foreign surfers, as many South American surfers flew across for a four event run through the Western Cape and Durban. This pushed the local surfers and made for entertaining viewing for the crowds on the beach.
Onto Cape Town and the Jordy Smith Cape Town Pro presented by O”Neill. With the World Number one surfer in attendance to award the winner, it was the Brazilian storm who delivered the results both in the juniors and the open divisions. After massive storms had made the original venue at Big Bay a disaster zone, the contest moved to Melkbos. The tiny West Coast village delivered great waves and huge crowds at the beach.
The final event of the series was the WSL 3000 Volkswagen SA Open presented by Hurley. The 3000 ratings event drew a larger international crew and this put the local surfers up against it. Eventually the Brazilian crew showed their greater experience pulling off major wins across the board.
The series was an incredible success and I am hoping we will be looking at a greater and more expanded series in 2018. Big thanks go to El Jimador Tequila for sponsoring me as the series commentator and to the hard working team at Accelarate Sport for putting on the City Surf Series with WSL.
It took a few days to sink in really, that the World Title was done and dusted. It had been such a see saw year, with Matt Wilko holding on for months, then Gabriel fighting back, then John John into the lead and at the death we had, Jordy Smith, suddenly in the hunt right till the semi finals in Portugal. As a South African I would have loved to see Jordy taking the fight to Pipeline, but sitting in 3rd place he is in a great position for next year and we will take that. At the end of the day I don’t think there is a surfer on the planet unhappy right now, the most popular surfer in the world won the world title.
Lets make it plain, John John Florence is the people’s champ! More fans, more video views and more picks on Fantasy Surfer than any other guy. On top of this, the win does not just reflect on John, but on a whole family and clan of people that he travels with, lives with and adventures with. They all put so much energy and effort into what John has become that they all deserve some of the credit and the fantastic thing about it is, he gives it to them. Our new world champ is not only the best surfer in the world, but also the one with the most humility.
Congrats John! You are the man.
First wave ridden: age 3
First contest win: age 7
First wave at Pipe: age 8
First win at Pipe: age 18
First World Tour win: age 19
First Eddie Aikau win: age 23
Ok, so John John drops the second video in his new Twelve series with Hurley and I watch it and it blows my mind. From huge waves, to doing massive punts in big waves to surfing Pipeline, he rips it all. By the end I actually said to my mate, I wonder when Jordy Smith is going to drop a boss edit like this again and true as all hell, a few days later he drops a new web video, with some insanely progressive power surfing. Pound for pound these two videos will get you frothing for your next surf (Or maybe not frothing as you realise how far ahead these two gents are!) Either way, prepare yourself for 20 minutes of radical surfing from my two favorite surfers to watch…
WOW, what an incredible day of big wave surfing. South Africa can be proud as we watched Matt Bromley charge one of the biggest tubes of the day before the contest started, followed by Grant Twig Baker charging into the semi finals – which will go down today! Check out the highlights video below, i know its 16 minutes, but it is so worth it, I promise!
PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Oaxaca/Mexico (Friday, June 24, 2016) – South Africa’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker started his campaign for the 2016/17 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) title with a solid second place finish in his Round 1 heat of the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico on Friday.
Held in monstrous 10 metre (30-foot-plus) unruly waves and challenging beach break conditions, the 2013 BWT champion from Durban showcased his big wave skills, finding several huge hollow tubes, and demonstrating his commitment and bravado by taking several bone-crushing wipe-outs.
Will Skudin (USA) claimed the heat win with a 22.07 heat total over Baker by only 0.74 points. Rogercin Ramirez (MEX), event wildcard and local favorite, opened Heat 2 with a huge barrel, pulling off a technical exit to earn an authoritative 9.00, which brought the large hometown crowd to their feet.
Ramirez held the lead against the field, but with 15 fifteen minutes left in the 75 minute heat, Skudin and Baker fought back to secure the first and second positions. Skudin, Baker and Ramirez advanced to the Semifinals while BWT heavyweights Billy Kemper (HAW) and Damien Hobgood (USA), along with local wildcard Coco Nogales (MEX) were knocked out of the competition.
“It was hard to find those corners out there,” Skudin said. “It was big and heavy, and I just put my head down and kept on going. I was hoping that eventually I’d lock one down and make a good barrel. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a really good barrel, but I made it through the heat.”
Reigning BWT Champion Greg Long (USA) led the field with back-to-back solid scores in Round 1 Heat 1 and was the first surfer to secure his place in the Semifinals. Long set the pace for the opening heat of the event by picking off multiple right-hand barrels to earn a 20.01 heat score (out of a possible 30).
Albee Layer (HAW) secured a 12.83 heat score and the second position. Kai Lenny (HAW) and Gabriel Villaran (PER) battled for third place, but it was Lenny who showcased full commitment as he pulled into a deep barrel and edged out Villaran by only 3.10 points.
“The waves are really good right now and there are a lot of corners if you know where to sit,” Long said. “I actually deliberately rode a much bigger board than I ever do out here. There is a lot more volume so I could cover the ground that I needed to. It is something new for me, but in a heat if you can’t catch a wave, nothing else matters. My strategy was to keep moving around wherever it was clean and I locked in four waves.”
2014/15 BWT Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW) charged through Heat 3, with Pedro Calado (BRA) and BWT veteran Carlos Burle (BRA) close behind. Rothman, last year’s BWT runner-up, locked in a near-perfect 9.50 and a solid 7.80 back-up score. Calado fired with an excellent 9.07 and 6.93 to earn the second position. With only 0.29 points between Burle and event wildcard Angelo Lozano (MEX), Burle’s 23.56 heat total was enough to advance to the Semifinals.
“This is my second time to Mexico and the waves are really fun,” said Rothman. “I was just in the right place at the right time. I am not thinking about the end result. I am just thinking about my first wave tomorrow morning and hopefully I am in the right spot. The local boys charge.”
Jamie Mitchell (AUS) netted the highest single-wave score of Round 1, a perfect 10.00, with an extremely technical barrel ride in Heat 4. Mitchell’s final heat tally, a near-perfect 29.03, was the highest of the day, earning him the heat win and a place in the Semifinals. The bout also saw high-scoring rides from local wildcard Jimel Corzo (MEX) and Rusty Long (USA), who will also progressed to the Semifinals.
“I think we were all worried about the fourth heat with the wind coming up, but I think we scored the best conditions of the day,” Mitchell said. “The tide was dropping, the winds stayed glassy and the swell was peaking. I found an early right hander and nearly made it out, which put me into a good rhythm. I found that left and didn’t think I was going to make it, but somehow I pulled out of that. It was an historic day. Incredible surf and incredible barrels.”
Event officials will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. local time (about 3pm SA time) for a possible 7:30 a.m. start.
For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com where the Puerto Escondido Challenge will be webcast LIVE.