PA SPORTS FES­TI­VAL BOOSTS ECON­OMY

Plans to ex­pand next year

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - LOUISE KNOWLES

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.

Pic­ture: LOUISE KNOWLES

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...

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