Michael February – Cape Town Local Surfer International Wild Card

Turn the clock back to Apartheid days, and Michael February would not have been able to showcase his amazing talent to the world. His dad, Isaac February, was not allowed to surf at many of the best surfing spots around the country.

Even after 1994, Isaac still had a tough time being taken serious as a black surfer. He had to deal with heckling and taunts on a regular basis. 15 years after the big political shift, Michael followed in his dad’s footsteps, competing and winning a surf contest at the same spot where his dad had struggled to surf in peace.

Breaking the Mould

Isaac knew that this was no small feat, his son would change the South African surfing scene for good. Michael February’s inclusion in the Championship Tour, is inspirational to all black surfers dreaming of surfing alongside the big names in the surfing world.

Michael was born in 1993, a year before the big political shift. Growing up in Woodstock in the 90’s was a whole different ballgame. Today the suburb has a hipster vibe, but back in the day it was much rougher around the edges.

Michael fell in love with surfing at age 10, and shortly thereafter his parents decided to move to Kommetjie. It’s a wave-rich small town about 45 minutes from Cape Town. His carefree free-range style soon caught the eyes of judges in local surfing competitions, he steadily climbed the South African ranks. By 2012 he started entering the Qualifying Series events in other countries as well. Three years later, he made it to the 2015 Martinique Final.

Follow @mickeyfebruary on Instagram

By 2016 he was riding the international waves with flair, winning third place at the Azores Airline Pro. The next year was his big break, finishing third at the Ballito Pro and fifth at the US Open of Surfing. The big QS 10 000 results were followed by three QS 1 000 wins at home. He finished one spot below the qualifying cut-off end of 2017. But this meant that he still held the first injury-replacement spot for the upcoming season.

Then early 2018 Mick Fanning decided the Rip Curl Pro at Bells would be the last event he participated in. Suddenly Michael’s status changed to full-time Championship Tour surfer. He is one of eight rookies in the competition mix. Michael February is already a crowd favourite, his artistic flair wows both fans and peers. Who could resist that confident smile? He is truly an ambassador for his community, carrying hope with him wherever he goes.

Surfing Stats: #30 Men’s CT 2018 | 2 Heat wins | 7.95 Average heat score | 2.50 Average wave score

The Wildcard is On a Roll

He had a great run on the World Surf League’s South African circuit, making it all the way to the Ballito Pro Semi-Finals. Michael beat Jesse Mendes in the Quarterfinal 1, securing his spot in the semi-final.

The feisty surfer managed to win three of the South African QS events. He surfed circles around his competitors at the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro, Corona Durban Surf Pro and the Vans Surf Pro Classic. He was also the runner-up at the Buffalo City Surf Pro. He’s climbed to No. 4 on the Qualifying Series rankings, up by 17 spots.

The winning streak secured him the wildcard slot at the Corona Open J-Bay. The WSL Commissioner’s office sat up and took notice, offering him the slot at the Championship Tour event in South Africa. He now has the chance to again challenge World No. 3 Jordy Smith, who eliminated Michael in the Ballito semi-finals.

Eye on The Prize

Michael sees the third-place result in a Qualifying Series (QS) 10 000 event as the game-changer moment he’s wanted for a long time. He has grown as a competitive surfer throughout 2017, inspiring his fans with his performances during the Ballito Pro.

He is entering the upcoming season on a high looking forward to pushing himself at the US Open, the European leg, and finally Hawaii. Jordy and Michael are on good footing, the surfing veteran offering the wildcard some encouraging words after their surfing stand-off. Jordy Smith went on to win the Ballito Pro.

The showdown between Michael February and Jesse Mendes was also an exhilarating moment for the wildcard. After catching some ruler-edged waves, he managed to outshine the goofy-footer, to make it through to the Ballito Pro semi-finals.

Born to Conquer the Waves

Michael had a great start before entering the competitive surfing world. His father encouraged him from a young age to experiment with surfing and he had great access to quality waves in Kommetjie, Cape Town.

He’s the full package with an inspiring air game, a solid rail-approach, plus numerous man-hacks up his sleeve. Conquering the wild waves of Kommetjie as a child has made him fearless, never backing down from a challenge, tackling the big surf head-on. Michael February has all the winning ingredients for a very successful career as a professional surfer.

His level-headed approach to contest rules and his great heat strategy, will take him far on the premier tour. Michael’s equal 3rd place in Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, is a sign of greater things to come during the rest of the World Surf League 2018 Season. He’s not scared to try high-risk moves and he can’t resist pulling off air moves at every chance that pops up. It’s a great strategy – d big moves mean heat and contest wins are much more likely.

Follow Michael February in the World Surf League | Follow the World Surf League 2018 Season

Chris Bertish – Cape Town Surfing Explorer

Chris Bertish is a real-life adventurer. The South African born surfer and stand-up paddleboarder loves pushing himself physically, regularly taking on record breaking challenges. He is also a great motivational speaker, drawing from his personal experiences to inspire others to challenges themselves.

In 2009 he was the Mavericks Big Wave Surf champ. His other big passion, stand-up paddle boarding (SUPing), has put him in the limelight many times. The most recent daring feat he took on, was to be the first person to cross the Atlantic on an unsupported SUP, paddling from Morocco (Africa) to Antigua (Caribbean). In March 2017, after roughly two million strokes and 93 days, Chris successfully completed the solo journey.

Paddling for A Cause

There was method to his madness, Chris linked his record breaking experience to three charities: Operation Smile, The Lunchbox Fund, and Signature of Hope.  He managed to raise R6 million, changing countless lives forever. These three charities help kids born with a cleft lip or palate smile with confidence again, provide kids with a healthy meal at school each day, and help to build schools in rural communities. Carrick Wealth was one of his main corporate supporters.




You can still donate to these worthy causes via thesupcrossing.com

Chris planned his daring feat for five years, tweaking the paddleboard and equipment needed to accomplish the dangerous trip. He created a 6-meter-long customized board, weighing 350 kilograms. That might sound quite heavy to you, but he says that you still feel like a little cork being tossed around in the ocean. The board is much lighter than an average small boat. Only 10 centimetres separated him from the unpredictable ocean. He also carried 350 kilograms of food, meaning he was pushing roughly 700 kilograms across the Atlantic, with only his paddle to make progress.

The customized craft included a small cabin that Chris used to overnight in and hide from rough weather. It also protected the equipment needed to steer and sustain him across the open waters – a radar, MacBook, water purifier, radio, satellite phone, bilge pump, navigation lighting and solar power, as well as battery banks to keep all the equipment charged. He had to plan every little detail of his trip, for instance purifying water instead of transporting 10 litres of water times 90 days.

Even with all the careful planning, he still faced many unexpected challenges. At one stage, most of his equipment failed him, except the radar. Luckily it kept working, he needed the radar to inform passing ships of his presence.

Beside the tricky weather conditions, Chris had to deal with curious sea creatures, including sharks. The carefully constructed board also failed him at times, the main steering broke down after only a few days at sea. He had to think quickly to figure out an alternative. It also regularly filled with water. He needed to pump out water almost every two weeks, carefully keeping an eye on his food stock and equipment in the process, as to not let anything valuable float away. Most of the time his feet and ankles were covered in water.

Conquering the Endless Blue

Chris was aiming to hit Florida, which would have been a trip of roughly 7 400 kilometres. But due to harsh weather conditions slowing him down and forcing him Southwards, he decided to set his aim on the Caribbean islands, setting a record of just over 6 500 kilometres. He aimed at paddling between 12 to 15 hours per day. To limit his sun exposure, he mostly made progress during the night.

At one stage the battery banks stopped charging properly, resulting in Chris having to juggle the available power between his equipment and water purifier. He cut down to only 5.3 litres of water per day, stretching his physical capacity to the limit. Sports doctors recommend a litre of water per hour during any extreme sport activity. Chris now has first-hand experience of how you can train your body to overcome difficulty, so long as you have an end goal to focus on.

Chris Bertish Atlantic PaddlePushing the Limits

Chris has been building up to this epic record breaking moment over the years. He was the first guy to paddle in on his own, instead of being towed, at Jaws in 2000. Next, he won the Maverick’s Big Wave Invitational in 2010, riding the biggest recorded wave in history.

In 2012 he SUPed 320km up the South African West Coast. He faced huge waves, trying winds and even sharks. All while being unsupported and unassisted on his board containing his tent, food and communication devices.

Chris Bertish Big Wave Surfing

Next on his to-do list, was to set a new Downwind World Record for the 12-hour open ocean world record paddle. His aim was 120 kilometres. With the mighty South Easter assisting him in December 2013, he managed to set a new record at 130 kilometres. And in January 2015 he took on the 24-hour open ocean SUP world record. He paddled 131.8 kilometres, setting a new all-African and South African record.

“It was pretty radical, pretty incredible, driven by a passion and a purpose greater than yourself – and that powered me to get through everything, day in and day out,” said Chris Bertish in an interview with National Geographic.

Taking on the challenge of paddling across the Atlantic on a SUP, he knew what he was in for. Before the trip he bulked up to a robust 80kgs. By the end of his 93-day journey, he slimmed down to approximately 65kg. Even his choice of an epic full beard was done on purpose, protecting his face from the harsh elements. Biltong was his choice of energy food, as well as chocolate and a special electrolyte shake.

On the technical side, he packed two different paddles, a long and short shaft. With his food stock diminishing during the trip, the boat’s waterline changed. He had one very strange encounter, with his parachute anchor getting caught on something, something big. Chris speculates that it might have been a whale, or possibly a giant squid! For a moment he was pulled backwards, until the anchor freed itself again.

Read more about his adventures

More Than Just A Paddling Expert

“Nothing is impossible, unless you believe it to be!” says Chris. The inspirational man has captured his story in a book called Stoked! Find out how a boy from Kenilworth in Cape Town managed to travel the world, without sponsorship. Then go on to outwit and outperform the world’s best-paid professional surfers in a big-wave surfing event.

His story is filled with the power of dreams, courage, and determination in action. Chris was the first South African to conquer the monstrous waves of the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational surfing event. He mastered the biggest waves ever recorded at a sporting event. In the same year he managed to finish third during the Big Wave World Tour, and he only surfed at three of the five events.

Dream it – See it – Believe it – Achieve it. This is his life mantra. Chris uses his infectious enthusiasm to inspire others to pursue their own dreams. He regularly appears as motivational speaker at events, impressing the crowds with stories of his death-defying feats.

Order a signed copy or buy the kindle version.

Meet Andrew Birkett

Andrew grew up in Cape Town in Southern Suburbs. He started surfing when he was 12 years old at the Berg. He’s now 29 so it’s been almost 17 years of single-minded obsession over the ocean. He moved out to Kommetjie 11 years ago and has lived between Kom and Kalk Bay since 2002.

Since early 2011, Andrew has been working offshore as a hydrographic surveyor, mapping the sea floor and sub-bottom geology all over the world. That has taken him to Namibia a lot, Australia (where he managed to tie in a few weeks of surf in West Aus with some expat friends), Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France and the UK. Basically he’s been pretty busy travelling in the past few years.

Andrew went on his first surf trip out of South Africa when he was 15 years old. Went to Bali for 2 weeks with some mates from school and have been totally hooked on surf travel ever since. He finished school in 2001 and spent 2002 working in bars and restaurants (Bell and Polana), surfing his brains out around the Peninsula. He did his second trip to Indo for 2 months during the winter of that year. Just in the south… Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Nusa Lembongan.

He went to UCT in 2003 and studied Ocean and Atmosphere Science with a second major in Environmental and Geographical Science. He then did 4 years of Undergraduate (BSc Honours) finishing in 2006. He then hit the road, heading over to London for most of 2007. He did a trip to Portugal that year with some mates, but got pretty skunked. Surfed around the UK a bit and then spent a month in Morocco at the end of 2007/2008. Got awesome waves and made great friends with some really cool locals who let him crash on their couch for the last 2 weeks and showed him some of their favorite waves off the beaten track. On 2008, he spent a few months in Spain and Italy trying his hand at the Superyacht thing. He never really got into it and headed back to London to make some quick bucks for the remainder of the year.

Andrew went back to UCT in 2009/2010 to do a Master (MSc) in Physical Oceanography. He started working at sea collecting oceanographic data for the US government during 2010. He used to sail on container ships from Cape Town to New York 4 times a year, so he crossed the Atlantic by sea a fair few times. Then he did a monster road trip through Southeast Africa, driving from Dar es Salaam through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and across South Africa. Scored epic waves in Mozams (that right superbank they were calling the African Kirra – he was there at the same time as the Zag guys and happened to luck into a monster cyclone swell).

Most recently surf trip wise he spent a month in West Java and South Sumatra in August with his boss, and had 2 weeks in West Ireland in October. Ireland is amazing he said because of the waves, culture, jols, friendliest people, natural beauty.

Andrew’s 2nd best place next to Cape Town were Pescuales in Mexico, or Safi in Morocco when there’s a massive North Atlantic groundswell with light offshore wind.  In terms of vibe, he would love Ireland. For natural beauty, the jungles of West Java would have to be right up there.

Andrew mainly surf Dunes because he just live in Klein Slangkop at the end of Wireless Road in Kommetjie so its 15mins from bed to barrel. He hits the reserve whenever the Dune isn’t on, otherwise Krons if the wind is South/Southwest, the tide high and the swell big enough.

Andrew has a lot of surfboards. From a 9’6 rhino chaser to a 5’11 dumpsterish shortboard. He has a couple of retro boards – an original Country Rhythm single fin from the 70′s plus – a modern rendition of that board shaped for him by Lyndon Read which has a single-fin box plus quad and twinnie setups. He rides a lot of barrelling, chunky waves in the South Peninsula so he has a lot of step-ups and semi-guns in the 6’6 to 7’6 range. In terms of surfing, He’s not the most talented surfer, but he really just enjoys getting barrelled and finding sweet lines on a wave. He doesn’t really care if it’s knee high or triple overhead, as long as he can get a bit of speed. He also hates crowds, so he often missions a long way or surf slightly worse waves to avoid the masses.

Andrew’s favorite surf spot is Dunes which is the most consistently world-class wave in Cape Town.. According to him Kalk Bay is great and he lived there for a couple of years. You get those quiet sessions and you get in with the crew so you can score some good waves. But the crowd is often a bit overboard (slight understatement). He said, he’s fortunate in that extensive travels because he have many epic trips over the years. The Mexican beachbreaks are top-notch, he said, but in terms of uncrowded quality his favorite would have to be a quiet corner of West Java, he scored in August 2012.

Every decision Andrew made in his life since he was 12 years old has been driven by his love for surfing and the ocean. What he studied, where he lives, where he travels, what work he do now. Andrew met so many great people and made many true friends both locally and all over the world through surfing. If he had to pick one that really influences him so much in surfing, he would pick Andrew Marr. He said, he has the best attitude of anyone he had met. Such a down to earth character for someone who charges so heavily, and he constantly has a massive grin on his face.

If given a chance to kick back with one of the famous surfer one day, Andrew would choose to be with Slater. He said this guy is just such an amazing athlete to have evolved over a 20-plus year career and still be challenging for world titles. He also would love to hang with Dorian, he’s on another level in anything heavy.

Meet Bernie Shelly

Bernie Shelly is one of Cape Town’s true surfing legends and who would have thought that she is a 65 years old surfer and a Grandma of six potential surfers. Aside from her husband, Alan, surfing is one of the determining elements of her life’s course. Although she didn’t surf for 25 years, stopped travelling and became a mother of 4, she didn’t quit and started surfing again in the early 90’s at the time long boards made a good comeback. She underwent a bilateral hip surgery 3 years ago, but that didn’t keep her out of the water and she continues to surf, compete and travel if given a chance.

She has competed most of her life. And just like other surfers she won some and she lost some. One of her greatest achievements was winning WP Champs in the Ladies category and adding 2nd, 3rd and 4th may times. Just lately a new category was formed for women above 35 – men have 5 year progressions. “In the older age division I have come out tops most times in WP Champs”, she revealed. She always ended up being runner up or at least being in the finals of SA Longboard champs and finally won the Diva division. Since the day she had her hip replacements, she became more reticent and careful. Imagine the thought of breaking your leg bones or dislocating your prosthesis; it’s a big deterrent to willful abandon.

Bernie Shelley and Friends

Right now, her life revolves around her menagerie and family, but a lot still centers around surfing. She stopped teaching Psychology and English and dabbled a bit with writing for a while, but eventually became an enthusiast surfer. “Everyday, my waking thoughts involve tides, swell and wind”, she says. That’s how fanatic she was and even her holidays still get planned around surf spots (except of course for ski holidays). The majority of her clothes are simple and picked with the need to change in car-parks always kept in the mind. Any invitations will be declined or accepted depending upon her surf schedule.

She’s traveled a lot both locally and internationally, including St Francis, Jbay, Durban and Elands Bay as well as Mozambique, The Maldives and Madagascar. ( Read about her travels to Madagascar here ) For her, almost all the places she’s been to are second to Cape Town. “If it wasn’t for the damned South-easter and icy water this would be paradise, what with our bountiful, diverse coastline, multitude of surfbreaks of varied competency levels and types of waves, and our natural beauty”, she expressed.

Her bucket list includes surfing with only bikini bottoms on, no top – just plain freedom to surf. And she added, “the soul afraid of dying never learns to live”. However the cold water prevents her from doing so and thus she needs some warm private spot to do semi-naked surfing.

Apart from surfing, Bernie enjoys hiking, skiing, viewing nature in all its forms, spending time with friends or family and also her animals (two cats, four bantams and three golden retrievers). She also loves indigenous organic gardening, going to the cinema and movies, watching ballets, bicycling, pilates exercises, playing music and reading great books. And above all, dreaming about surfing.

Her present board is a David Stubbs 9ft epoxy performance longboard having a thruster set up but she is now experimenting with a bigger sole fin. Just lately she purchased a Bulldog from Natural Curve in Durban. This is like a 6’8″ longboard having a number of feet cut in the middle. “The rationale is that it’s a transition towards a short board, so that my surfing can be more versatile, but I doubt I’ll go shorter, so Winston will be my “short” board.” she says. “I’m into mellow head high surf, although I must acknowledge that an occasional adrenaline rush from a fast hollow (but makeable on a longboard) wave is very welcome.” she added.

Talking about her favorite surfing spot, there happens to be a super “secret” peeling wave around the West coast of Cape Town which is quickly becoming her favourite local spot. Not to mention the additional appeal of being not so crowded. Of course let’s not ignore the beauty of Muizenberg on a great day as among the best longboard waves in existence. Moreover, she loves the Hullett’s reef in St Francis Bay. “When it’s big the left is fast and exciting; when it is small, the right is fun. And it is almost always warm”, she remarked. More so, she finds the Bali’s Medewi to be amazing and ideal for longboards. “I’ve been barreled at Uluwatu (believe it or not) and the thrill of a hollow wave is undeniably orgasmic, but for me nothing surpasses the charm of a clean mellow running longboardable wave” she says.

Her expert advice on how to keep peace in the ocean (surfers, bodyboarders, SUPers are all combating the waves), all she can say is that, “there is an inexhaustible supply of waves, so if you don’t get your fair share today, you’ll get them on another occasion”. And besides, there’s nothing you can do about hogs and other idiots in water, so it’s wise to ignore them and just enjoy the waves that comes to you.

Like the other avid surfers, surfing influences every major decision in her life. Surfing dictates everything, whether she is available to baby-sit the grandchildren, what car to drive, how much money she has to spend, where would she go on a holiday – absolutely everything! After all, surfing is her passion, her sweet obsession, her remedy, her personality, and also her reality.

She met a lot of extraordinary women and men through surfing. One of those is Simone Robb, whose talent became her inspiration. Another one is her good friend Therese, who’s extremely addicted to fitness that keeps her from getting slouchy. And of course John Mc Carthy and Justin Bing, who taught her how to become a soul surfer and a motivated achiever.

“What’s to change when it’s the perfect lifestyle, perfect sport, and perfect way of living?”, these words are her answers when she was asked about one thing to change about surfing. What’s important for her is today and to have exciting plans for the future. Just recently, she met up with an old surf friend from the 60’s and with one more survivor of the “Seal Surf Club” days, and together they plan to bring back the erstwhile girls’ surf club. And if you are to ask her for what purpose, she would say, “Just for the stoke of it”. Also, she is preparing one more trip that requires a plane ride and someplace warm with bigger waves for next winter. Not to mention she wants to visit Mozambique the coming year during cyclone season.

In regards to the famous surfer she would like to kick back with for a day, she did not mention any names. All she says was, “Perhaps someone who is cool and fun and easy to be with.” “I would choose the person more for her/his qualities as a person than her ability to surf well,” she added.


Meet Andrew Wilsnagh

Andrew WilsnaughFor surfers, a typical day includes checking if there are any waves, having breakfast, and surfing the entire day. This is also true for Andrew Wilsnagh on a day off. Andrew began surfing at about 12 years old and attended Rondebosch Prep and High but eventually left because he hated it and went to Art College. His father was disappointed but his mother (who is originally French) was more supportive. Without any restrictions at school and having a passport on hand, Andrew gave studying a back seat and put surfing in the driver’s seat. But before long, when he reached 16, he became involved into school clubs and that became his priority. It took 3 years for him to stop surfing. Fortunately with some friends, Lyndon Read and Hamish Hogg, he was brought back into boards again. “I left the needle in my mid-twenties”, he says.

He started to surf more but it was only at the age of 27 that he truly re-discovered surfing. On a surf trip in Cornwall along with his mate Dave Colema, Andrew made a big mistake due to a hangover. “I bent my knee the wrong way and couldn’t walk, work or surf for about 6 or 7 months”, he recalled. On the 7th or 8th month, he felt surfable strength returning, and so he bought a board and scored the sickest Croyde (North Devon). He promised himself that if there are waves the next morning, there will be no time for jolling. This changed his whole life. The same theory applies to his work and it has been working out pretty well.

Now, he’s been permanently based in the Kalk Bay area for almost 4 years with no intention of working abroad. He always has this in mind, “what if a swell comes, and I’m not here to ride it” and so he stumbled into the fortunate career of working at the art department in the movie industry. Right now, he is happy supporting a few other Kalk Bay locals from starting out a little restaurant appropriately named “Ours” in Kalk Bay. “I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out!” he exclaimed.

Ours Kalk BayBack when he was young, he really had an absolute party and he wouldn’t want to change that. “I still love the jol but riding waves is my religion, and nothing gets in its way,” he says. “And hey, if you regret your past I skeem you kind of regretting your present!” he added. Except for one thing, he wishes he had been to Indonesia already.

Like most surf boarders, Andrew loves doing airs, however the present take off to landing ratio wouldn’t qualify him for the pilot’s manual, not to mention the license. ‘Been making these performance kind of dumpsters for myself”, he says. He’s been riding 5’11 x 19’5 boards – more or less a few mm’s here or there.

Locally, he used to love Kalk Bay, but due to the crowd he’s been searching for a few new options. For options abroad, France, Canaries, and Ireland for him are way too fun, but perhaps he had the most enjoyable experience at Perranporth, a little left wedge in the UK. Of all the places he has visited, Canary Islands falls second best to Cape Town. “They’ve got a lot of waves and not so many riders, that was a while ago though”, he responded.

The fact that people are spending too much time in the water to get a “set of waves”, not everyone can afford to buy decent wetsuits, not to mention the accessories like boardies at a scorching R1000. If you ask Andrew about one thing he would want to change about surfing, this would be his reply; “The cost! It seems like these companies are no longer aiming their products at surfers”.

Same as the other surfers, surfing also means everything to Andrew and influences all of his decisions. This includes Lyndon Read, one of his oldest friends, who really had a big influence on his life. “He showed me how to shape my own boards, and inspired me to start my own ‘anti-brand’ called Treason”, he says with gratitude.

Finally, if you ask him who would be the famous surfer he wants to kick back with one day, he would definitely give you a joke: “Dunno, did Bob Marley surf?”

Shooter – Mike Wrankmore - Zigzag Magazine

Meet Buzzy Joell


Buzzy Joell is the owner of the business “The Board Box”. “The Board Box” was just recently opened and they do repairs and custom artworks on all types of boards. They also sell some surfing hand goods and just recently installed a 25 sq. meter infinity wall (still studio) to rent out to photographers. The idea of his business comes from his father’s saying “find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life!” They feature a full band practice room, a quarter pipe, a flip bank, a chill area where you can watch surf and skate videos, uncapped wireless internet connection and an unlimited supply of hot coffee! His ultimate goal is to come up with something unique in Cape Town, some creative space with super friendly, relaxed but professional ambiance.

He was born in the UK and at the age of 4 transferred to Durban. He spent his High School years in Jozi, then moved down to Stellies where he completed his studies and discovered surfing. Eventually, he settled in Cape Town where he has done a fair bit of missioning around. “Cape Town for me, is the ultimate city, we have pretty much everything and I love to live an outdoor lifestyle”, he explains. “Great surf, amazing climbing, some insane hills to bomb on skateboards, great hiking, sandboarding, snowboarding (occasionally), some great golf courses, and of course the night life!”, he added. To name a few of the bands he has seen in Cape Town – Rudimentals, The Little Kings, Mind Assault, Fuzigish, Half Prince, The Hogs, LP Show and Crimson House Blues.

He’s been lucky to have visited a lot of wonderful places around the world, but one of the best places is Namibia which he loves, it represents wide empty spaces for him and comes with insane waves. Not to mention that there’s an infinite supply of beer and jager there. “Or maybe it’s just coz my lady is Namibian and I’m a tad biased, hahaha!”, he laughed.

Over the last few years, he’s been working with some well-known local shapers like Robby at Vudu Surf, Dean Geraghty, and Dutchie. It was Robby that gave him the chance to spray boards and from that steered him on the path to where he is today. It was also Robby that introduced him to Dutchie and Dean. “It’s been really great to see 3 very different facets of the surf industry and I have learned some very different lessons through each of the guys I have worked for/with”, he says. From the lessons he learned with these 3 awesome guys, he squashed these all into a single idea and luckily for him, the business has encapsulated all the things he loves to do.

He has done a lot of artwork and his favorite is the Black label Longboard which he created for a dude a few years ago. “I don’t really think I have a favorite but it’s always rad to see the boards I’ve sprayed when I’m out surfing”, he explains.

Playing with paint and getting to meet and interact with people are what makes his job most enjoyable. He has a wonderful business partner, they successfully handle the entire operation along with their staff working all the front of house administration as well as advertising. “I also have 2 great guys that work with me, Steven and Wedge, and they are also an integral part of “The Board Box”, Buzzy says. When it comes to surfing, he does a lot compared to the people that work normal office hours. He can skip off during the day to surf and then try to make up the hours he missed during the evening, an advantage of being the owner.

Buzzy started bodyboarding as a grom and only got into surfing about 12 years ago. Growing up in JHB, it was hard for him to take surfing seriously as he only went to the coast once every couple of months, but he played a lot of golf in JHB. “I have vague memories of my first proper wave, but I can replay my first barrel in my head like it was in the session I had this morning. It’s buried solidly into my memory”, he remembers.

He loves to ride different boards. He owns a 5’11” performance board and he has a collection of other boards such as the Glen D’arcy Sea Flight twinny – it’s about 5’6” or so and 21” wide. He easily gets bored riding on the same type of boards so he always surfs with many different boards as possible.

His favorite spot locally is the West Coast. “I can’t really pick one specific spot coz there are so many, it’s a rad place to just mission with mates and there are always empty line ups to be found”, he says. Internationally, Indo was sick but the crowds are busy. “There are still to many places I wanna go surf so for now, I’m just going to stick to Die Wes Kus”’ he added.

When talking about the people he met through surfing, Buzzy has a lot of names to mention. All of them had a big influence on him. Kidders, Aids, the Home, Goofrey, Squatter, Juzzie, Boyes, Wedgie, Dutchie – to name a few. “My girlfriend surfs as well – which is EPIC!”, he exclaimed.

For him, surfing is what he loves to do. It really influenced him in one way or another, affecting every major decisions of his life. It’s like hanging out with his best mates on the beach, be it in the local shores or on a surf trip. “Good friends, good times, and awesome surf!”, he says with joy.

When given a chance to change one thing about surfing, it would be something like making it compulsory for everybody to pick up at least one piece of trash in the beach after every surf session. It’s like saying “thank you” to nature for providing everything. It does not take a lot of time but it can make a big difference to the beaches all around the world.

Finally, he loves to go on a Drive-thru mission with Benji, Pat O, Noodles, Donovan, Mike Lossness and the rest of the crew. “I know that’s more than one surfer and it’s more than one day, but those dudes just look like they have such a jol”, he says. “I guess it would be my ultimate road trip”, he added.

Check out the Board Box’s Facebook feed in the sidebar and pop over there and give them a like, or better yet visit them in real life.


Meet Billy Ackerman

Billy AckermanBilly Ackerman was originally born in Durban in 1957 and started to surf there at a very young age, till they transferred to Cape Town in 1985. Presently, he is working at the biggest Valve Supplying Company in RSA, as one of the Tech Sales Team members. He loves to travel and search for new surfing spots.

It was at the age of 13 when Billy first took up photography. He started taking black and white pictures, considering that color was very costly to develop at that time. “I turned all my late Mom’s spare rooms/bathrooms into dark rooms, hahaha!” he laughed.

He began his passion in surfing photography after he got the first Gunston 500 right on his doorstep and seeing all those photographers with their long lenses. Of course as a beginner, he had a lot of questions and his idols in surfing photography were and will always be Patrick Flanagan and Chris Van Leppan, who were actually the frontrunners when it comes to surfing photography.

When he went to Durban to celebrate their 35th Wedge Reunion, a good friend named Dawn Rouse, who happens to be a surfing photographer in Durban, came up with the name PB (Photo Buddies) and that started his PB surfing page on Facebook. He started the page to feed this surfing and boadyboarding family with pictures, as not everyone can afford to get a photo of themselves in a magazine.

During his days, he surfed with the likes of Paul, Mike and Shaun Tomson, as well as Mike Esposito. “ They are trying to get me to start long boarding again but I can’t stand surfing in a wetsuit and the water here is too cold, ahahaha!”, he exclaimed with laugh.

Billy also plays golf every now and then, when he is not hiding behind his camera. “It is a great way to relax when there’s no surf around, and I also cycle to keep me fit, and will be doing my 7th Argus next year”, he explained. He also is a fan of the Sharks Rugby team.

Other than surfing, he also enjoys shooting any type of sports. In fact, Pierre Marqua has recently introduced him to downhill mountain bike racing and he did his first shoot and is looking forward to shoot in Tokai forest.

This year, he spent some time in Jbay taking on the Billabong Pro event. “It was a very well-run event, best in years!”, he says. For him, Brazillians stood out from the rest as they stick together and root for one another. Us Saffa’s take defeat lying down too easily, that’s just my personal opinion”, he added.

When it comes to surfing shots, he mainly uses the Canon 7D with 70-200 mm f/2.8 as well as his baby 400 mm f/2.8 lens. With regards to the photo editing software, he uses Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5.

His favorite location to shoot is Llandudno. “I lived there for 12 years, so yes it’s still my favorite spot as it just has something about it that’s hard to describe”, he explained. He offers his photos for sale as prints, but he also makes up a DVD for anyone who wants more than one photo.

If you were to ask him something about himself that we don’t know, his answers would be, “I am just a down to earth guy who loves life and enjoys spending time with family and friends. If he could spend a day taking photos of one surfer at a certain spot, it would be Shaun Tomson at his favorite spot “The Bay of Plenty”.

Find Billy’s Surf Photography Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/InTheFiringLineBillyAckermanPhotography


The Gunston 500 was a long time ago. Check this out from 1984:

Donovan O’Neale

Donovan O'NealeAsk Donovan O’Neale, 24, why he started kiteboarding seven years ago, and he’ll tell you he needed a new sport to fall for when his first love let him down, and not so gently. “I was first into motorcross, but I needed a new way to stay healthy – I’d broken too many bones!”

His mates were kiteboarding, so they threw him on a board, telling him to teach himself the ropes. “I don’t recommend that,” Donovan chuckles. This is one of those things you don’t want to learn by being thrown in the deep end, so to speak. “You need to know the safety techniques, and how to do things like pass another kitesurfer – the rules of the water,” he explains.

Four years ago, Donovan started working at Cabrinha, the outlet at Eden on the Bay that not only sells kiteboarding equipment, but also offers a range of kitesurfing lessons in Cape Town daily.

As you can imagine, Donovan loves his job. He’s not bound to a desk, he gets to be near the sea, his boss knows he’ll be kiting before or after work most days, and he’s given room to explore new horizons and try new marketing avenues.

“But what I like most about my job is that I’m supplying happiness to a community,” Donovan says. “I’m selling a smile, I’m selling health. I’m helping be healthy and stay energised.”

Like most kiteboarders, Donovan is passionate about what kiteboarding offers as a sport. First, there’s the sense of freedom it gives the rider. With your board and kite, you can go as far and high as you like, and still come back by yourself. “I’ve been around Robben Island; to the ships in the Harbour and down to Silverstroom Strand. There’s that freedom of catching as many waves as possible, going as high as you want, and still being able to land as softly as you want without getting injured. If you did that with any other sport, you’d end up in hospital!”

That’s not to say there’s not enough thrill for the adrenaline addicts. Donovan describes the many types of people that make up the friendly kiteboarding community: There are the easy-going wave riders who still kite on gentle days, then there are those who’ll ride in 40-plus knots, and “the hardcore wakeboarders who are usually doing the big tricks close to shore.”

It’s hard to know where Donovan falls within this growing subculture. His friends call him crazy (think motorcross), but he also has a deep, chilled side. The waves have probably influenced Donovan’s pragmatic life philosophy – to just take everything as it comes, day by day – but he also counts his mentor, the bestselling international author and personal-development expert Dr. John Fredrick Demartini, as a grounding influence. John, from Hawaii, is also a surfer.

Donovan met John through his mother, a publicist for Hay House books, when he was just 10. “I’ve looked up to John my whole life. We’ve had a good relationship since I was 10 years old. We meet up every time he’s in South Africa, and I always take his advice seriously,” Donovan says.

So, why should someone consider taking up kiteboarding as a sport? “It’s a great stress relief after a hard day’s work. It’s also really big as a family sport, and it’s not too dangerous anymore if you’re taught by accredited, affiliated people,” says Donovan. In other words: “Don’t let your friends try teach you,” he says with a laugh.





Jennifer Clarke

According to Warren Lee, Jennifer Clarke is the type of mother that every wave-riding child wishes for: Jennifer owns a surf shop a short trot from the beach and is deeply engrained in the Western Province body boarding community. She drives long distances and understands the yearning impassioned love of a grom. When she is not waxing lyrically with South Africa’s top body boarders she is a sultry princess of the ocean, dropping down the face of waves with her close friends and fellow female devotees. She also – for better or for worse – understands the hierarchy of the wave riding community and has allowed her (recently) 18-year-old son to explore the dark side of manhood with a throng of some of Cape Town’s wilder body boarders.

Jen escaped the futility of the corporate world to open a surf shop in Melkbos. The surf shop was pretty simple, the one they did have in Melkbos was closing and that just wasn’t on in a town where there is always someone in the water. The shop was opened because Melkbos needs a surf shop and because 99% of the people there get in the water – kids, moms, dads, teens, they all love it and she knew they needed a local surf shop so that was that. Jen has a great crowd in Melkbos and the locals have been very supportive so it’s good for all of them.

Jen is involved in WOWEES which mean Women On Waves and SUPsistas who careen down the Big Bay promenade in full steamers on a weekly basis. Jen loves the first duck-dive of the first wave, being freezing cold, watching the birds fly overhead and the feeling she get knowing the she’s in this huge universe that is the ocean, she feels so connected there. The Wowees and the SUP sistas are amazing for her. Some have been in the ocean all their lives and some only just in the past few months and they all get that feeling – the freedom. No worries, no dishes, no beds to make, just free in the ocean for an hour or half that or more… but it’s their time and their bit of freedom.

To make tangible and lasting relationships with people in the industry, Jen, as much as possible, supports local, be it Melkbos or SA, and to deal with people in the industry who she feels are honest and hardworking and has a passion for what they do as well, which most of the reps seem to be, thankfully. Through that it’s pretty easy to talk shop and see the guys on the water as well as interact on a social level according to her.

According to Jen, one of her favorite things about the people in the industry is that they have so much talent in SA. They have Jared Houston, a Melkbos local, and Mark McCarthy ripping it up on the IBA (International Bodyboarding Association) Tour so she stocks what they ride. It’s good for them and good for her – she knows what they ride and they are always willing to give advice to her customers. They have some fantastic shapers in Melkbos: Halo and Carstens, they are always keen to give advice and they provide excellent products. They also have Ivan Van Vuuran, the owner of Corban Stand up Paddle boards, in Melkbos – another amazing waterman with a great product and Jen always knows where to find him if she needs to know anything SUP related: he will be on the water in one of a few local spots and Jen just has to time it right and catch him in the car park before he hits the surf or meet him out there and talk shop. So in a nut shell Jen has made some wonderful friends in the industry. They are great people, understand the importance of good products and they love the ocean too… easy.

Jen’s two sons also loved the ocean. She feels so fortunate that both boys love the ocean as much as they do and with it they have this great big ocean loving family, not just her and their dad but all the wonderful people they have met surfed and traveled with. Jen has never been asked by either of them for a Playstation or that Wi thing or a lift to the mall, her boys just want to surf and be with mates. What a thrill for them and how healthy to grow up knowing the real power of something like the ocean. How wonderful and how deadly it can be, it teaches respect and humility, fills your heart with joy and makes you cry tears from deep down. She think they live a full life, a true life thanks to the love of the ocean, so no problem, she supports them all the way and they even let her surf with them sometimes too.

Jen makes a point that her boys sports and education should be balanced. For her, if you want to be happy and successful, primary and high school education, acceptance of other cultures, beliefs and respect for life are critical. She lets her boys go out and have fun but she warned them both to do well and try hard in everything they do.

Miles Gilham

Sport n Surf

Miles Gilham has worked at Sport ‘n Surf for 10 good years. Everyone remembers him having that friendly face whenever he said hello to customers. His daily routine starts with a cup of Seattle Coffee, reading his star sign in the horoscope, getting touch with the good people at Safari surfboards on stock and custom orders, planning the day with Volker (his fuhrer), cruising the shop floor, making some sales, playing some pranks on the staffs and finally taking the daily cash up!

He enjoys selling customers the right board for them and seeing them in the water with a smile on their face. Since he works al day he usually enjoys enjoy surfing in the evening while he watches the sunset. It is a beautiful way to end of the day.

Dealing with the prices in the store is the most challenging part of his job. He always wants to give the customers the best deal possible, but the shop still needs to make a profit, so there is a fine line that needs to be walked. Being on long street, Miles gets some strange requests, once someone tried to buy his swimmers ( costume ) right off his body.

Miles got his 1st surfboard at the age of 8 which was a Tich Paul board. Now his favorite boards are his Joel Tudor which is a 9,2”, his 9’6” Donald Takayama (RIP), a 9’2” Spider Freedom model and spider Glider 7’4″. He loves riding longboards and gliders. His style of long boarding is nose riding in the classic old school longboarding manner.

His favorite spots for surfing are Muizenberg, Inner Kom, Mossel Bay and Elands.

Miles’s biggest influences in his life have been his daughter Kennadee , his amazing parents and brother, his beautiful girlfriend Megan, Volker, and surfing friend and guiding light Barry. Joel Tudor, Alex Knost, Lance Carson, Miki Dora, Mike Hynson and Donald Takayama (RIP) are the people who he draws inspiration from when surfing.

Miles’s favourite place to surf away from Cape Town is Bali. Mainly because of the warm water and epic waves.