Lindy Taverner

The 'Bong' or the Berg?

2011-07-15 11:26
Sport24 columnist Lindy Tavener (File)
Lindy Taverner

It's unfortunate to be missing the Windhoek Berg Canoe Marathon this weekend as it is such an epic race to watch with wild, fast flowing water and courageous paddlers, but alas I’m in J-Bay for the R3 million Billabong Pro surfing competition.

It’s sunny with clear skies and sparkling waves and although the swell is small at the moment, contest director Eric Stedman confirmed that there will be plenty of action and that “even a bad wave here at Supertubes is better than a good wave elsewhere”.

Shaun Payne from St. Francis Bay won the VZ superheat on Thursday which enters him into the Billabong Pro as a wildcard. The contest started on Friday morning and features the world’s top 32 ranked surfers plus three wildcards and five trialists.

There was a pro panel discussion at the opening function on Wednesday evening. Defending champ Jordy Smith was relaxed and confident as he expressed his readiness for the event and added, ”the pleasure of surfing Supertubes with just one other surfer in the line-up is a huge motivation.”

Adriano de Souza, 24, winner of the Rio Billabong Pro and the first Brazilian ever to be ranked number one on the ASP World Title Race rankings said, “I’ve been coming to J-Bay since I was 11-years-old and am looking forward to improving on previous performances.”

Australia's Joel Parkinson, the 1999 and 2009 J-Bay winner, was unable to defend his title last year due to injury and mentioned that this Jeffreys Bay event is extremely special.

2007 J-Bay champ Taj Burrow, another Oz pro, grinned while commenting, “The smaller waves and light winds predicted will elevate the high performance surfing and potential for aerial manoeuvres.”

Two-time ASP World Champion and two-time (2002 and 2006) J-Bay champ, Australia's Mick Fanning, spoke of how he loves Supertubes and the local wildlife, although he is not that fond of the ‘men in grey suits’, i.e. sharks, that have been known to frequent the line-up.

Sean Holmes, dubbed "The Nemesis" by friends and surf media for his cunning ability to eliminate big names at Supertubes, is happy to be injury free after tweaking his back last year, although he nevertheless eliminated both Kelly Slater and late three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons on his way to fifth place overall!

Meanwhile, Riaan Manser, back from Iceland to paddle in South African waters in the 50th Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon, was in good spirits after completing the second day of the country’s most gruelling canoe race.

Manser has been paddling alongside Dan Skinstad on their attempt to break a record as the first two South Africans to circumnavigate Iceland by kayak, paid homage to the legends and female contenders participating in the race, “The Berg has earned its reputation of being tough and it is an honour to be paddling with the Legends, previous winners of the race.”

Hank McGregor and Michele Eray have devastated the competition on both the first and second stage of the canoe marathon, taking total charge of this anniversary race that finishes on Saturday in Port Owen.

Lindy Taverner is the editor of the RUSH magazine that was based in the Eastern Cape and recently relocated to Cape Town. Previous issues and updated extreme sport news can be found on her site

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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