Port Elizabeth played host to over 1600 lifesaving athletes in the biggest competitive carnival of its kind in the history of South African lifesaving. The city was transformed into one of pool and surf non-stop action with the 1600 athletes competing in 528 events over eight days.
Old and young were there, with the master’s events first up, followed by the Nippers, Juniors and Open Senior categories.
All of South Africa’s best male and female lifesaving athletes were in Port Elizabeth for the eight days, and the added incentive was the announcement of the South African senior and junior squads to compete at the World Championship in Australia later this year, as well as at the Sanyo Cup in June in Japan and the Pool specific Orange Cup in Europe in also taking place in June.
Lifesaving South Africa and the Federation’s primary sponsor General Tire, in the first ever such initiative, consolidated the full spectrum of its national championship events into one extended platform in Port Elizabeth, with the Pool events held at Newton Park and the Surf events at King’s Beach.
There was also the reintroduction of surf boat racing, which is one of the most spectacular events in Surf Life Saving competition. The surf boat race involves a five-person team and an 8-metre fibreglass oar-driven surf boat. Four members of the team (rowers or crew) row and one member steers the boat (sweep). The crew rows out through the break and around a buoy approximately 500 metres out to sea and returns to the beach.
The Shoot Out consisted of 3 days of round robin races. Pirates were strong from the start taking first place and winning R15000 in cash from the sponsors. They were closely contended by Marine Surf in second place and Bluewater Bay “A” coming in third.
Another new concept was the “Tough Challenge,” only for the toughest competitors who run on pure endurance, stamina and strength. Competitors needed to compete and complete all of lifesaving’s toughest individual events, starting in the pool with the 100m manikin rescue with fins and the 50m manikin rescue. The surf events followed with competitors taking on the surf with Malibu board, surf ski and surf swims and sprinting their way to victory in the beach flags and beach sprint events. This was the most intensive examination of sand, surf and pool skills, with every lifesaving discipline being tested.
The demands of this category reduced the field to five master’s and 14 Seniors.
The sport’s iconic David Mocke – who was at the forefront of the new challenge innovation – competed to raise money for his charity, the Sabrina Love Foundation. General Tire also donated R3500 to his charity and awarded him with “The General” accolade.
The inclusiveness of the extravaganza extended to all the parents in the form of a Flags competition on the last day of the Nipper Surf Championships.
Springbok legendary rugby centurion Percy Montgomery, winner of the inaugural General Tire Lifesaving SA Celebrity Challenge in Cape Town in 2017, took on SA Paralympian and General Tire brand ambassador Achmat Hassiem, local cricket great Dave Callaghan and SA comedian and presenter Siv Ngesi, with the latter taking the overall title, walking away with R20000 for his chosen charity.
The serious challenge though belonged to the Marine Lifesaving Club, who were crowned overall Surf and Pool National Champions.
Fish Hoek won the Seniors and Juniors Surf National title and Durban Surf won the Nippers Overall Club title.
Marine’s Sasha-Lee Nordengren won the individual Women’s Title in the Surf Open Division and Fish Hoek’s Nick Notten won the individual Men’s Title in the Surf Open Division. Notten also won the prestigious Open Male Iron Event.
Durban Surf's Tatum Botha won the title in the U14 female division. Clifton's Noar Lombard won the U14 male title.
Pirates’ Alice Edward won the overall female U19 title and East London’s Josh Fenn was the best U19 male. Fenn’s younger brother Jordan took honours among the U13s.
Marine’s 2017 Lifesaving South Africa Female Athlete of the Year Carmel Billson won 15 titles throughout the week and competed in both the Surf and Pool Championships.
Durban Surf's veteran sprinter and flags specialist Mandi Maritz was at her very best to see of the challenge of Marine youngster Bianca von Bargen. Maritz had lost to Von Bargen in the KZN Provincial Championships but in Port Elizabeth she completed the double gold in beating Von Bargen in the sprint and also in the Flags.
South Africa’s most renowned male Flags specialist and sprinter Ryle de Morny finished on a high in winning the Flags, but he lost for the second successive year in the sprint final to KZN’s Scottburgh beach sprint sensation Johnathan Rorke.
False Bay’s De Morny, for the past 10 years, had owned the crown of sprint king in South African Lifesaving. He had won 10 World Championship medals, including twice winning gold at the World Championships.
But Rorke, after winning the 2017 and 2018 final, announced there was a new male king of beach sprinting in South Africa.
Summerstrand’s Tracy Gous was one of the stars of the master’s Pool and Surf Competition, with her dominance in the pool at Newton Park matched by her beach sprint success at King’s Beach.
Gous competed in the 40-45 age group and shared the spotlight with club teammate Brad Reen, who also starred in the Pool and Surf Events.
General Tire Lifesaving South Africa 2018 Overall Surf and Pool National Club Championship results:
1. Marine 986 points
2. Fish Hoek’s 513.5 points
3. Durban Surf 475
Team South Africa World Championship Squad:
Amica de Jager, Mandi Maritz (both Durban Surf), Kyeta Purchase, Carmel Billson, Sasha-Lee Nordengen, Teegan Hardwick, Haley Nixon, Kristin Bellingham, Bianca von Bargen (all Marine), Candice Murray (Fish Hoek)
Josh Saunders, Martin Binnedal (Marine), Ryle de Mornay (False Bay), Mark Keeling, Kenny Rice, Nick Notten, Dominic Noitten (all Fish Hoek), Johnathan Rorke (Scottburgh), Johan Lourens, Ricardo Peach (both Tuks)
Salinke van den Berg (Manguang), Alice Edward (Pirates), Bianca Opperman, Ally Chislett (both Harties), Deborah Dredge (Tuks). Kira Bester, Megan Kreft, Taylor Yates (all Strand), Tamryn McKie (Marine), Madison Malherbe (East London), Page Horn (Umhlanga)
Milan Erasmus (Durban Surf), Juan Pierre van Zyl (Harties), Matthew Fenn (East London), Renuldo Pedro (King’s Beach), Connor Botha, Shane Macquire, Matthew Maroun (all Umhlanga), Bennie van der Merwe (Bellville), Uli Hart (Fish Hoek), Ryan Chandler (Milnerton)
No of Nippers - 763
No of Seniors and Juniors - 777
No of Masters - 129
Total no of competitors - 1669
No of clubs – 41 clubs