South Africa: The World Champion Factory?


By Aden Kleve.

Image: John Catlin, Cape Town by @Sethphitides

It’s more a question of why not more?
South Africa has and will continue to be a breeding ground for talented

Going back in time and looking at the forefathers of South African
bodyboarding- guys like Michael van Huyssteen, Dean Seppings, Alistair Taylor and of course André Botha- it is clear to see how the charge was being led for us.

The moment that André won the first world title for South Africa in 1998, the eyes of the younger generation were opened, showing everyone that it’s possible to achieve a world title coming from a far-away country like ours.

Andre Botha 1998 & 1999 W.C.

A major challenge for South African riders is the actual process of getting
overseas. The South African Rand (ZAR) is about as strong as a wafer biscuit under a truck tire compared to other currencies. Having a weak currency has its benefits though – although the exchange rate isn’t in our favor and therefore takes longer
to save up to enter even ONE international event on the world tour, it makes the riders fight even harder to make it count when they’re overseas.

Jared Houston 2015 & 2018 W.C.

More recently, seeing guys like Jared Houston, Iain Campbell, Tristan Roberts, Mark McCarthy as well as DK world champ Sacha Specker absolutely dominate the world tour, has been a testament to the true grit it takes to pursue the world tour on a South African budget. Of course, sponsors help but before the sponsors were around to assist, these guys were surfing, training and committing their bodies to intense conditioning in order to be in shape to match the top guys on the tour.

Iain Campbell 2017 W.C.

Personally, the biggest factor contributing to the stylish, powerful and explosive riding that these South African world champ bodyboarders have displayed, is our vast coastline which is simply littered with a huge variety of waves, allowing for the ideal training ground to perfect riding in all conditions. South Africa’s competitive scene is another contributing factor in that it has
provided the foundation for hard and fair competition. 

Tristan Roberts 2019 W.C.

Our competitive scene is intense and has also shaped riders, because we see them competing on an international level, matching the abilities of other dominating countries and, in recent years, taking the win. There’s no prouder moment when you see your fellow South African dominate and claim their win on the world stage. This is the devotion and humbleness that makes us so proud!

The question now is who’s going to win it next? I hope to see more guys and girls chasing the world title in the future and we at Bodyboard South Africa are big supporters of South Africa’s bodyboarding flag flown high and proudly amongst the rest of the nations for the continuous chase for world title status!

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