PA SPORTS FESTIVAL BOOSTS ECONOMY
Plans to expand next year
IT HAS been a very busy and eventful week in Port Alfred, with the Royal St Andrews Hotel Amanzi Festival having started on the Easter weekend and concluding on Sunday.
Residents – and holidaymakers – may have noticed the jet skis and rubber ducks racing along East Beach and in the Kowie River.
Early on Good Friday if residents were up and about, they might have seen athletes running the 8km trail run that set off at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course, winding on and off West Beach, before ending at the Royal St Andrews Hotel.
Another well-known event, which has grown from 33 entrants last year to 50 this year, is the Marina Mile. With its starting point from behind the Halyards, participants swam through a Royal Alfred Marina canal to the small boat harbour on the Kowie River. The NSRI and water police boat on standby, ensured safety was paramount.
There was also fun for children with games, activities and competitions at Kiddies Beach continuing all week, with childminders in attendance at the jumping castles.
At the prize-giving, which was held on Sunday night for the motor sport and bodyboarding events, the local organiser, Zwelinzima “Sxeaks” Nkwinti, said next year they are planning to have all the sporting events endorsed by national – and possibly international bodies.
“People on the Garden Route get to the Tsitsikamma and parachute over the Sunshine Coast to the South Coast,” joked Nkwinti, who wants to put the Sunshine Coast on the map using sports tourism as a vehicle.
This year the bodyboarding event was held under the auspices of the Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB). This weekend’s surfing will fall under the banner of the World Surf League. These are both international organisations.
“The advantage of having national or international endorsement, is that athletes will want to come to Port Alfred in order to earn points to progress to the next level,” Nkwinti said.
Eastern Cape Athletics endorsed the trail run and the rubber ducks races were also endorsed by Border Inflatable Boats Club.
“Next year we will hopefully be organising the race under the banner of the South African Inflatable Racing Association,” rubber duck organiser, Mike Hatting, said.
The Marina Mile has a lot of potential for growth and organisers Avril Beyleveld and Pierre Coetzer are hoping to invite triathletes from East London to next year’s event.
The organiser of the trail run, Sticks Stiglingh, has also mooted the possibility of a bicycle race for next year’s event – and a triathlon is also on the cards .
Speaking at the launch of the Amanzi Festival at the Royal St Andrews Hotel last Friday evening, Mayor Phindile Faxi said that sports tourism is important to the local economy.
Guest speaker tourism expert, Peter Myles, said the staging of the Amanzi Festival had been good for the hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and restaurants, as well as affording opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide further employment in the area. Also speaking at the launch, main sponsor of the Amanzi Festival, Royal St Andrews Hotel owner, Martin Bekker, said all sports on offer should also have a development division.
This idea formed part of David Lawson and Zwelinzima Nkwinti’s vision when they started the Amazing Events Festival as it was called last year. “Development is the life-blood of sport,” Bekker said.
“It not only improves the spirit of the community, it also changes the life of individuals.”
He was referring to Pumlani Kamanaare who received a standing ovation at the launch for co-piloting a rubber duck at the race on Saturday and Sunday after training with pilot George Bester, who took him under his wing at his own expense in October. Kamanaare had a small open wound from the footstraps on his ankle and said he was feeling bruised and battered. He was crying when Bekker announced he had deposited money into his bank account.
“Development sport is also important to attract more sponsors,” Bekker said.
Myles said: “However, the obstacle standing between us and the development of water sports tourism in Port Alfred is the pollution of the oceans.”
The festival ends with the internationally endorsed surfing competition at East Beach at the weekend.
Residents and holidaymakers are welcome to come and watch as the forecast is for 3m high waves which could provide thrilling entertainment.
ON A FESTIVAL HIGH: Guest speaker and sports tourism expert Peter Myles, centre, with Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti, left, and local event co-ordinator Zwelinzima ‘Sxeaks’ Nkwinti at the launch of the Royal St Andrews Hotel Amanzi...