Steve Pike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

JEF­FREYS BAY has been buzzing. Every­where you look, surfer dudes and dudettes strut past on a mis­sion to surf or dry off.

But the ubiq­ui­tous win­ter bean­ies and cool branded jack­ets have been dis­pensed with.

Crys­tal clear skies and hot, berg wind weather, with tem­per­a­tures in the high 20s, greeted the crowds milling around for the Jef­freys Bay Open of Surf­ing pre­sented by Bil­l­abong, the an­chor event for the in­au­gu­ral Jef­freys Bay Win­ter Fes­ti­val.

Ev­ery morn­ing, the berg wind has blown across a con­sis­tent 2-4 foot east swell slid­ing down the reef at Su­per­tubes.

Up to yes­ter­day, they had man­aged to get the two last quar­ter-fi­nals of the men’s event off and both women’s semis. But a grad­ual drop­ping swell saw a lay day called.

But while many eyes are glued to the crum­bling surf along one of the world’s best known right-hand point­breaks, there is a whole bou­quet of events that have at­tracted a far wider de­mo­graphic to this small Eastern Cape town.

There’s been a Fun­duro (a fun mo­tocross En­duro), a catch- an­drelease fish­ing event, and the Cold­wa­ter Clas­sic swim in Ma­rina Mar­tinique.

An en­ter­tain­ing down­hill skate event – called the Core Down­hill Sokkie Jol – took place yes­ter­day.

The brain­child of or­gan­iser Koffie Jacobs, all dis­ci­plines of skate­board­ing were rep­re­sented in a race with ob­sta­cles such as ramps and cones that cre­ate unique chal­lenges for the dif­fer­ent boards used by some of South Africa’s best skate­bor­ders.

Long­board­ers may want to avoid the ramps. The short­boards won’t carve the berms and cones quite so stylishly… or fast.

The skate jol, with prizes for best disco dressed, was topped off with Smoke and Mir­rors, a night LED skate­board­ing event on the same course. Wayne de Lange of Sil­ver Bul­let Pro­duc­tions told me that the night event was ac­tu­ally a TV com­mer­cial shoot for Ar­bor, a new skate­board brand com­ing into South Africa.

They had cus­tom-built 15 LED light-suits that some of the South Africa’s top skate­board­ers would wear as they carved the same down­hill run later.

Bright strips of LED lights down their legs, arms, over hel­mets and even on skate­boards would be com­bined with smoke ef­fects and head­lights from cars at 45 de­grees to the run line.

He says it was a world first, and set to be quite a spec­ta­cle.

To top off the Win­ter Fes­ti­val, the fi­nal day of the surf­ing com­po­nent was ex­pected to fin­ish to­day.

A new groundswell is due, which should send some lines down the fa­bled point.

For­mer world champ Mark Oc­chilupo is still in town, chill­ing near one of his favourite surf spots, de­spite be­ing knocked out of the event in his quar­ter-fi­nal heat.

It was re­veal­ing to hear him say just how good this field of 60-odd SA surfers was, say­ing that it was re­ally tough surf­ing against such a stel­lar line-up that in­cludes the best of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion, but also a few stal­warts, such as 60-year-old Cape Town su­per vet Gavin Ru­dolph.

“The stan­dard of surf­ing is re­ally high. Gone are the days of the (W)CT when there were a cou­ple of wild­cards, like Shaun (Holmes), caus­ing a few scares,” said Occy.

“The surfers in the J-Bay Open, which is en­dorsed by the ASP but has no elite or even prime sta­tus, has en­abled us to pe­ruse the best in SA in one event. It’s been an eye­opener to see how they surf and the moves they’re at­tempt­ing, and pulling off.”

Run­ning con­cur­rent to the surf­ing to­day is a moun­tain bike event, with three stages – a 5km fun ride, a 40km, and a gru­elling 85km tech­ni­cal track that or­gan­is­ers say will be a test­ing



the Trans train­ing Baviaans.

The fes­ti­val ends to­mor­row with a 12km trail run that takes peo­ple over beach, through bush and along rivers.

Af­ter the Bil­l­abong Pro J-Bay was dropped from the elite world tour, the com­mu­nity has pulled to­gether to build a fes­ti­val that they have own­er­ship of.

The in­au­gu­ral event has been done on a shoe­string, with all man­ner of lo­cal ex­per­tise – from so­cial me­dia ex­perts, film crews, pho­tog­ra­phers, jour­nal­ists, ground crew, se­cu­rity, and the or­gan­is­ers that in­clude the JBU Surf Club – work­ing on the whiff of an oil rag.

Al­though the swell has not played ball for the surf­ing in terms of the crank­ing Su­pers we know and love, there have been enough good waves, and good vibes, to keep ev­ery­one happy. Kind of like an End­less Sum­mer in the mid­dle of win­ter.

Photo: #jbay­win­ter­fest

BODY ELEC­TRIC: Fif­teen LED light-suits were worn dur­ing a unique night skate­board­ing event, dou­bling as a com­mer­cial shoot, in Jef­freys Bay this week, fea­tur­ing top skate­board­ers, smoke ef­fects and mu­sic.

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