As an ocean and water photographer, I had the privilege of capturing the exhilarating moments of the 2023 SA Open and Masters Championships presented by Tidy Towns in memory of Barry Wolins. Hosted by Ugu District and Tidy Towns Shelly to Margate, this prestigious event took place at the picturesque St Michaels beach from May 16th to May 24th, 2023. With perfect surf conditions and flawless organization, this competition showcased the very best of South African surfing talent.
From the moment the event kicked off, it was evident that we were in for a remarkable display of skill and finesse. The first day began with a welcoming function in the Tidy Towns Tent at 6 pm, followed by the first heat at 7:30 am the next morning. St Michaels beach proved to be a paradise for surfers, with its long peeling right-handers creating an ideal point break for the competition.
A Spectacular Showcase: The open women's round 1 marked an awesome start to the Tidy Towns South African Surf Championships. The surf conditions were perfect, and the talent on display was simply outstanding. As I captured each thrilling moment, I couldn't help but be in awe of the surfers' incredible skill and technique. The waves provided an excellent opportunity for me to photograph these athletes to demonstrate their surfing.
Throughout the event, we witnessed exceptional surfing from both the men's and women's divisions. Round 1 showcased some outstanding performances, and as we progressed into round 2 for the women, the excitement continued to build. Each heat brought forth impressive maneuvers, big scores, and unforgettable moments that will be etched in the annals of South African surfing history.
Rising Star: Paul Sampson: One standout athlete who left a lasting impression was Paul Sampson. Having been a part of the SSA Development programs since the age of 10, Paul's journey to success is truly inspiring. His remarkable talent, nurtured by Surf Shack Surf & Outreach in Muizenberg, has propelled him to new heights. Scoring a phenomenal 9.88 in his opening round, Paul exemplifies the bright future of South African surfing.
The event was graced with incredible surf conditions throughout, and it only got better as the days unfolded. The anticipation grew as we looked forward to some big days of surfing ahead. Mother Nature truly blessed us with perfect waves, providing an exhilarating playground for the competitors. Although the weather on day 3 was a bit wet and cloudy, the colossal surf made up for any minor inconvenience, showcasing the resilience and determination of the athletes.
I must commend the organizers for running the contest flawlessly. The event flowed smoothly, and everything was meticulously arranged. The dedication and effort put in by the team behind the scenes ensured that the focus remained on the surfers and their remarkable performances.
In the end, the Tidy Towns South African Surf Championships crowned its worthy champions across various divisions. The winners included Thomas Lindhorst in the Open Men's division, Louise Leprontover in the Open Women's division, and a talented group of surfers in the Masters divisions, including Danielle Powis, Dan Redman, Gavin Roberts, Greg Emslie, Andrew Banks, Greg Swart, and Chris Knutsen.
The 2023 SA Open and Masters Championships presented by Tidy Towns in memory of Barry Wolins was an extraordinary showcase of South African surfing talent. From the perfect surf conditions to the exceptional performances by the athletes, this event was a true celebration of the ocean.
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Here is a Raw Video I made of one of the bigger days.