Three African surfers to compete on World Surf League Championship Tour in Hawaii

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South African surfer, Jordy Smith, says proper processes and support need to be put in place to help develop budding surfers in the country.

Three African surfers will be in action on the World Surf League Championship Tour this season, which officially opens this week at the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.

Smith and Matthew McGillivray from South Africa, and Moroccan, Ramzi Boukhiam, will compete against the world’s best.

Smith has come of age and needs no introduction to the surfing world. The 35-year-old has won numerous titles on Tour.

The Durban-born surfer is currently 16th on the World Surf League rankings – just ahead of American legend, Kelly Slater. Smith also represented South Africa at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan, and he says proper infrastructure is required in order to develop young surfers in the country.

“As far as SA surfing goes I think we have a great pool of young kids really surfing well, but it’s important to build some infrastructure for them, we don’t really have infrastructure like the US, Australia, or Brazil, and I think that’s the next step to really help these kids to make it, it is to create an infrastructure and support them to send them on their way,” says Smith.

Smith can expect tough competition from his compatriot, Matthew McGillivray, on the Tour this week.

McGillivray, from Jeffreys Bay, finished third at the Margaret River Pro in Australia last year. He is ranked number 15, but he has loads of potential and promise and is eager to show what he’s made of.

“I think there’s always going to be nerves coming into your first event. It’s been a long off-season for everyone; it’s been the longest break I’ve had. But it’s been so good to have that chance to reset and come in fresh now and come in extra motivated. It’s straight into the pipeline, one of the gnarliest waves on Tour,” says McGillivray.

This year, the pros will be joined by Ramzi Boukhiam, who is the first Moroccan surfer to qualify for the Tour.

In 2012, he won the European Junior Championship and finished runner-up to Brazilian Gabriel Medina at the World Junior Championship the following year. It seemed inevitable that he would finally secure his spot on the prestigious Tour.

“I was fortunate enough to go to France and have sponsors and all that. I’m really proud of myself for showing the people in Morocco, the new generation and everyone that we have what it takes to be champions too and to get there,” says Boukhiam.

This year’s tour will include 10 regular-season events in seven countries. 36 men and 18 women will compete in the first five competitions. The mid-season cut will take place at the Margaret River Pro at the end of April. -Vincent