VIPS HAND IT TO THE SURFERS
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.”
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...