A kid that learnt to surf at Main Beach, went to school at JBay Primary and worked his way through the tight pecking order in the JBay surf breaks has seen his dream come true and will represent the town in the biggest surf event of them all – the JBay Open of Surfing.
The eyes of the surfing world are firmly fixed on Jeffreys Bay as the top surfers in the world are drifting into town to take part in Round 6 of the World Championship Tour (WCT) – the JBay Open.
After a two year break from the WCT, there is already a festive vibe in Jeffreys Bay as the town gears up for the JBay Winter Fest, a multi sports festival with the JBay Open being the big draw card.
While most of the town gets ready for the biggest winter party in the Eastern Cape, 19 year old Dylan Lightfoot remains calm and totally focused on what lays before him – taking on the biggest names in surfing in his back garden.
Dylan carved the grinding walls of Supertubes in early June to win the JBU Supertrial and earn himself a wildcard entry into the JBay Open.
“It is a dream come true. Ever since I started surfing my dream has been to represent JBay and surf the WCT event at Supertubes,” said Dylan.
And it won’t be easy for the JBay local as the wildcards normally surf against the top ranked surfers in the world in the first round.
However, the Supertubes speed machine is unperturbed by having to surf against legends of the sport like multiple world champion Kelly Slater.
“I will probably surf against Gabriel Medina (the world’s number one ranked surfer) in round one and all the pressure will be on him as he has never surfed Supers before,” said Dylan.
“It’s not easy for goofy footers at Supers and the last one to dominate was Occy back in the 1980’s. I have nothing to lose and all to gain so there is very little pressure on me.
If I have to surf against Kelly Slater in round one (which is the other permutation facing Lightfoot) it will be a different ball game. Kelly rips Supers and has won here before and will always be dangerous at Supers,” added Lightfoot.
The JBay community is totally united behind Lightfoot, which is also something that cannot be under estimated in Jeffreys Bay.
The JBU rule Supertubes and the local’s only zone on the beach will be vocal in their support for the local youngster, who is one of their own, as they vacate the line-up to allow the WCT to return to town.
“The locals are tight in JBay and that is exactly how it should be,” says Dylan.
“The ballies (older surfers) look after the youngsters at all the surf breaks in JBay, so nowadays there are no hassles that Frankie Knuckles and the JBU don’t sort out.
Some of the young guns are starting to stand up to ensure that the next generation of kids will also get the opportunities to surf Supers like we did,” added Dylan.
“There is a pecking order in JBay and I have come through the ranks from the days when I learnt to surf at the Main Beach when I was 5 years old,” said Dylan.
Lightfoot worked his way up the JBay hierarchy, from surfing foamies at Main Beach, progressing to Kitchen Window, the Point and then eventually Supertubes.
Jeffreys Bay is at its core a conservative town and Lightfoot has been humble and shown respect as he has worked his way up the hierarchy to being the young gun that will represent the locals in the JBay Open.
If anyone thought Jordy Smith had lots of support at JBay when he won in 2010 and 2011, they haven’t seen anything yet.
“I really appreciate all the support the town is giving me and I will do my best to make JBay proud,” said Dylan.
“Special thanks to the JBU for making it all happen with the JBay WinterFest and for bringing the WCT back to town”
As his mate since before primary school, Keane Hansen high fives Dylan after that comment, one gets the sense that the youngster is ready for the lime light.
The JBay Open has a local boy that we can all support.
The WinterFest takes place from 10 – 20 July and all the information can be found at www.jbaywinterfest.com.