Dale Staples has emerged victorious at the inaugural Namakwa Challenge.
The Namakwa Challenge was based on the old Billabong Challenge events that ran in Australia in the 1990’s.
The concept was taking top competitive surfers, along with some hard-charging free surfers and a few young rising stars, to a remote and wild destination, with very testing but perfect waves.
The first South African Pro Surfing event since Covid began undoubtedly ticked all these boxes.
After a Covid Outbreak, the organizers were forced to move the event two weeks before the waiting period began to the remote and isolated Namakwaland Beachbreak.
The event ran Round 1 on the first day of the waiting period in some large and testing conditions.
After that, the surfers and crew had to wait till the last two days of the week-long waiting period before getting to finish the semi-finals and finals in absolutely epic 6-8ft conditions.
Northern Cape Tourism and the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports brought 6 youngsters from Hondeklip Bay to check out the free surfing and meet the surfers. After a morning with their host, Angelo Faulkner, they were all very enthused with surfing.
However, they could not wait for the Amandla Surf Foundation team to return to Hondeklip Bay later this year to do surf clinics with them.
“My anxiety levels were growing every day as we watched the ocean going mental, and the charts kept changing. At one point on the second last day, we even tried to test another slab point.
Adin Masencamp and Joshe Faulkner, the two surfers, who paddled out to test it, told us it was way too big and crazy. They thought that they might get into serious trouble out there.
That afternoon we got a slim chance of epic conditions for the final morning, so we decided to surf the second round in slightly onshore and massive conditions at the beach.
It was the perfect call as we woke to grooming offshore breezes and absolutely firing waves.” Kai Linder, Event Director.
The first semi-final had some testing moments as the waves were still cleaning up. The Contest Director and Head Judge made the call for no Jetski Assist.
The surfers had to paddle for their 35-minute heats, with many having 5-10 minute slogs against the massive white water and currents.
The stand-out surfers were Dale Staples and Koby Oberholzer, who found massive tubes that had the crew screaming from the dune. Slade Prestwich and Steve Sawyer rounded out the final with them, which ran over 40 minutes.
Steven Sawyer, World Longboard Champion, had one of the longest paddles of the event in the final after an early wave. He almost gave up at one point as he made zero ground.
He made it back out, though and managed to snag a few more waves but finished in 4th place. Koby Oberholzer managed to find some waves but had really gotten his best in the semi-finals.
Slade and Dale went wave-for-wave for the entire final, and both had incredible tubes across the beach. Dale found two intense barrels, a left and a right, and these helped him take the lead, which he held onto to take the win and the first winner’s cheque of the Namakwa Challenge.
“This was one of the best events I have ever been to,” said Dale Staples. “This is one of my favourite places on the planet, and to have a contest here, coming for the week with such a great crew of people, was truly a blessing.
I came here to win the event, and I am beyond happy to have achieved that goal. I was blown away by some of the younger surfers, who I thought would be intimidated by this wave.
Joshe Faulkner (Amandla Surf Foundation Star) especially, as I have seen him ripping in QT events and at home in Jbay, but here he did not hold back. He was one of the surfers of the event, in my opinion.
I just want to thank all the sponsors, organizers and especially the people of the Northern Cape for having us, and I really hope this stays as an annual event. We need more events in this format in South Africa.”
It was a very happy crew of surfers driving in convoy through the wildflowers out of the Namakwa, and everyone wants to go back next year.
1st: Dale Staples – R45000
2nd: Slade Prestwich – R20000
3rd: Koby Oberholzer – R10000
4th: Steven Sawyer – R5000
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