From perfect waves on the final day of the JBay Open, which saw Mick Fanning use all his experience to win the title from fellow Aussie surfer Joel Parkinson, to hard core partying at Jolly Dolphin at night, the JBay Winterfest has established itself as a premier event on the global stage.
The organisers of the Winterfest worked hard to upgrade the JBay Open of Surfing back to a World Championship Tour (WCT) event, and with all the world’ s best surfers back in Jeffreys Bay, the Winterfest was sure to bring feet back into town, during the traditionally quiet month of July.
In its second year of existence, the Winterfest has certainly grown in stature. Every event that took place in 2013, was still involved this year, with additions like the Winter Music Fest and the Oakley X Over Challenge.
Adverse weather conditions did little to deter participants and spectators alike, as the Winterfest kicked into hi-octane on the first weekend of the 10 day Festival.
The skaters had to deal with wind and some rain during the Core Downhill Sokkie Jol, but this did little to discourage the riders from taking on the challenging ramps on offer!
While the skaters were ramping, some of South Africa’ s most extreme swimmers had to gear themselves mentally to enter the 11 degree C water of Marina Martinique for the JBay Cold Water Classic, a 7.5 Km swim, wearing just speedo type costumes, goggles and a swim cap.
Legendary South African swimmer Theodore Yach, who has completed 83 Robben Island crossings, was one of the swimmers who took up the challenge.
The VW Rally is also back in Jeffreys Bay, with the centre of town coming to a standstill as the drivers took to the streets in a time trial, with thousands of spectators shouting encouragement as the cars wheel spun around the tight corners and barricades.
Kabeljous Beach came alive with giant squid kites floating in the stiff winter winds, as the Kiters added another dimension to the Winterfest.
While numerous kites were being flown in challenging conditions, the fishermen were reeling in the fish along the JBay beachfront during the JBay Skins Competition.
One unusual catch was that of a 70 kg black ray, which was subsequently released after being weighed.
The Winterfest Funduro saw enough spills and thrills to keep the riders and spectators absorbed at a track offering obstacle courses just outside Jeffreys Bay, with lucky draw prizes being the order of the day.
There was no respite for the thousands of people who flocked to Jeffreys Bay from all over the world, as the Winterfest continued to rock at night with many of South Africa’s top bands playing at the Jolly Dolphin.
The Parlotones, Jeremy Loops, Jack Parow and Taxi Violence amongst others, all kept the party going at night to sold out audiences during the Winterfest.
The surfing went on hold after the first weekend, but there was barely time to recover, as the Oakley X-Over Challenge began, with sporting legends like Bob Skinstad, John Smit, Butch James and Jordy Smith all competing in a multi discipline event that saw Butch James emerge as the eventual winner.
A huge storm started brewing out at sea, which would eventually see the final day of the JBay Open take place last Saturday, in what has been described as one of the best days ever at Supertubes.
8 foot waves saw the experienced Supertubes campaigners advance thought the heats, as many of the surfers tried to surf too vertically higher up the point, only to be caught by the car park section, which threw huge slabs of white water in the path of the racing surfers.
However, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson kept their cool and flew through the sections and looked for barrels that saw them advance to the final, with Fanning catching the waves and getting the scores on the day to be crowned as the JBay Open Champion for 2014.
The weather that brought the waves, also brought mud and rain for the off road cyclists taking part in the JBay MTB Open.
However, the riders accepted the challenge and with a shortened course and dirty bikes, the event took place in the Jeffreys Bay hinterland.
The Flamingo Trail run wrapped up the Winterfest with runners being challenged by the beach sand and fynbos in the Kabeljous Nature Reserve as well as head winds which ensured tough conditions, under the watchful of the the JBay NSRI.
With accommodation being hard to come by during the Winterfest, restaurants reporting full tables night after night, and retail outlets boosting their turnovers dramatically, the vibe in Jeffreys Bay is positive.
We have a Festival the whole town can be proud of, and much needed cash has come into the local economy.
Jeffreys Bay has received international exposure for all the right reasons through television, print and online media that would cost a fortune if it was paid for advertising and many successful events took place over a 10 day period.
July is JBay – see you next year for an even bigger and better Winterfest 2015!