VIPS HAND IT TO THE SURFERS

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - ROB KNOWLES

The week-long Royal St An­drews Hotel Amanzi Festival ended with the hotel’s spon­sored Port Al­fred Clas­sic, pre­sented by Quik­sil­ver last week­end. Giv­ing a shout-out to the surfers at the Port Al­fred Clas­sic launch last Friday were, from left, Linda Bekker (co-owner of the Royal St An­drews Hotel), Sun­shine Coast Tourism man­ager Sandy Birch, Amanzi Festival or­gan­iser Sx­eaks Nk­winti, Zuk­iswa Nt­wasa from the East­ern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, Martin Bekker (co-owner of the Royal South An­drews Hotel) and Zuki Makasi of Gi­jima Sport ‘n Leisure.

WHAT a week it was with the Royal St An­drews Hotel Amanzi Festival con­clud­ing with the highly an­tic­i­pated World Se­ries surf­ing event end­ing on Sunday at Port Al­fred’s East Beach.

The over­all feel­ing of the Amanzi Festival or­gan­is­ers was that the 10-day event brought much-needed rev­enue to Port Al­fred to help stim­u­late growth and cre­ate jobs.

Main spon­sors, the Royal St An­drews Hotel (RSAH), spon­sored the sport­ing festival to the tune of R1-mil­lion in prize money. With that much money up for grabs the event drew some of the world’s top ath­letes in the var­i­ous dis­ci­plines.

The RSAH Amanzi Festival be­gan with a trail run on the Saturday morn­ing fol­lowed by the Ma­rina Mile swim, and many ath­letes wanted to take part in both events, but over­lap­ping provented them from par­tic­i­pat­ing in both.

Sport­ing events, in­clud­ing jet-ski races, rub­ber duck rac­ing, in­ter­na­tional body­board­ing, tram­polin­ing, fenc­ing and more, along with plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties for the kids, took place through­out the Easter week­end and ended with in­ter­na­tional surf­ing the fol­low­ing Sunday. The town pumped as thou­sands of vis­i­tors flocked to the coast to par­tic­i­pate or just sup­port this festival of water-sport­ing ex­cel­lence.

A great deal of prepa­ra­tion goes into such events and re­quires con­sid­er­able sup­port in terms of li­ai­son and per­mis­sion-seek­ing from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the po­lice, tourism, mu­nic­i­pal­ity and oth­ers to en­sure the event gets the de­sired me­dia ex­po­sure and the buy-in from lo­cals, as well as surf­ing, body­board­ing, and other or­gan­i­sa­tions.

But the most thrilling as­pect of the event for ath­letes, and what brought so many vis­i­tors to town, was the prize money.

“The ho­tels and guest houses were all full,” said Graeme “Sunny” Hill from Re­max es­tate agents who is also the Kowie Board­rid­ers Club chair­man.

Be­fore the event be­gan, Hill was ask­ing home­own­ers if there were any spare rooms that vis­i­tors might use for their stay.

Last Friday evening af­ter a whole week of great ac­tiv­i­ties, emo­tions ran high at the Royal St An­drews Hotel at the open­ing of the festival’s fi­nal and largest event – the Royal St An­drews Hotel Port Al­fred Clas­sic, a premier surf­ing event on the world tour cal­en­dar.

“I am so freakin’ stoked,” said Hill at the open­ing.

Zuk­iswa Nt­wasa of the East­ern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency was also present to lend her sup­port to the festival.

“This is an im­por­tant event and I am pleased to be here this evening,” said Nt­wasa, who was im­pressed with how smoothly the en­tire festival went.

“This is what we are all about,” said a teary Dave Law­son who, to­gether with his busi­ness part­ner Zwelinz­ima Nk­winti, estab­lished the RSAH Amanzi Festival last year.

Now in its sec­ond year, the part­ners can look for­ward to at least an­other four years of spon­sor­ship from RSAH own­ers Martin and Linda Bekker.

Law­son was hold­ing up a copy of Talk of the Town with the head­line, “PA sports festival boosts econ­omy”.

“This is so good, and ex­actly what my part­ner and I wanted when we first started with the festival,” Law­son con­tin­ued. “Boost­ing the econ­omy, as well as sports de­vel­op­ment in this area, are our main goals for the festival. It makes me so proud when I see head­lines like this.”

Fi­nally, Nk­winti gave his over­all im­pres­sion of the 10-day festival.

“I am blown away with the way in which lo­cals and vis­i­tors have taken to the festival,” he said.

“Peo­ple have told me that this was the best or­gan­ised event they have at­tended, and some of th­ese peo­ple travel around the world for com­pe­ti­tions like ours.

“I would like to thank ev­ery­one who vol­un­teered, helped and par­tic­i­pated in our festival events. It has been a lot of work but well worth it as we have met our orig­i­nal ob­jec­tives of boost­ing the lo­cal econ­omy and as­sist­ing with sports de­vel­op­ment in the area.

“And I would like to ex­press my grat­i­tude for all the work the Nd­lambe Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has done in keep­ing the beaches clean and tidy, as well as re­mov­ing sand from car parks and roads to al­low freer ac­cess. I am hop­ing we can build on this part­ner­ship and make the 2019 Amanzi Festival even big­ger and more ex­cit­ing. As soon as this year’s event is com­pleted, we will be work­ing on next year’s event.”

Pic­ture: ROB KNOWLES

Pic­ture: LOUISE KNOWLES

WORLD-CLASS: Cintsa boat builder and pi­lot of the mod­i­fied boat M14 Mur­ray El­liott, left, with sup­porter Kevin Ack­er­mann from Port El­iz­a­beth/Ken­ton at the surf sec­tion of the Royal St Andrews Ho­tel Amanzi Festival rub­ber duck na­tional race on the first...

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