In the running for the crown of 2011 SA longboard surfing champ, Durban surf legend, Brad Weare takes time out of the surf to speak to Joel Burton, a final year Durban University of Technology student undergoing training with Roving Reporters.
First published by the Daily News
Brad Weare is the real deal. Walking into his Morningside home in Durban, you realise surfing is his life – surfboards scattered around and a shelf that displays a plethora of medals and trophies, too many to count in one glance.
Ranked 17th on the Association of Professional Surfers (ASP) longboard surfing series, Weare is a kind of sportsman you just have to love, and when it comes to surfers, this guy is prime real estate.
“I get very agitated and edgy if I do not hit the water every day. It just doesn’t feel right for me. I have to surf. I love the ocean,” says Weare.
Standing at over six-and-half-feet tall, Weare can appear intimidating when you meet him for the first time. As soon as he speaks, however, his mellow mood and easy going nature puts one at ease.
“Would you like a beer, maybe a smoke or anything I can get you?” he asks.
But his relaxed charm disguises a burning zeal and associated nervousness he will undoubtedly feel when he takes to the surf each day this week, competing in the South African Longboard Surfing Championship at Durban’s New Pier.
The stakes are high – victory this week not only means being crowned SA champ, but selection for the 2011 ASP World Longboard Tour which is restricted to the top 32 longboard surfers in the world.
For Weare, this means beating current South African champ, Western Cape’s Matthew Moir, and another hot favourite, and recently SA-capped surfer, Justin Bing. And that’s before one considers other top contenders for the SA title.
Can he do it?
Weare reckons yes, as does his local rival for the title, KZN Longboard Surfing Association chairman, Brad Trickett.
Justin Bing’s father, Deon, the president of SA Longboarding, also reckons Weare is a contender to look out for, both in the water and from the beach.
“Brad’s repertoire is dominated by one of the smoothest cutbacks on the planet, and his easy going nature translates into the flow he has on a wave,” says Bing.
Weare smiles at this compliment.
Indeed, for Weare, longboard surfing is a kind of artform, which can be compared to shortboarding, but is more refined.
“Shortboarding is too fast and radical. I prefer the longboard because of its traditional, classical style” said Weare.
No stranger to high performance surfing, Weare was once a top KZN shortboard surfer, finishing in the top 16 on the ASP Africa series in 2001.
But a trip to Jeffery’s Bay and Cape St Francis five years ago changed Weare’s perspectives on performance surfing and his life-long affair with the ocean.
It all started when a 12 year-old Weare got involved in lifesaving as a sport on Durban’s beachfront. He was nudged to pick up a surfboard, and soon his natural flair for the sport had young Weare dreaming of being South Africa’s next Shaun Tomson or Martin Potter.
“But the US’s Tom Curren was my favourite,” adds Weare.
Fast forward to 2006, and Weare’s at a surf spot, Hulletts in Cape St Francis.
“I was with a good mate, and there were two longboards stashed at the place we were staying at. We took them out to go ride these perfect little right-handers . . . I was instantly hooked,” says Weare.
Weare’s been longboard surfing ever since.
“I just love the style. It’s beautiful,” says Weare, who has since worked his way up to 17th on ASP world rankings.
Given this talent and reputation, Weare could be considered a professional surfer, but there is little money behind longboard surfing.
“I did win some money (how much, he didn’t say) both overseas and locally last year. This definitely helped, but I don’t get paid by anyone to surf,” says Weare.
A graphic designer by trade, Weare is launching his company CloudNine Surf in Durban this week. It is the first brand catering exclusively for the longboard market, producing surf apparel, wetsuits, fins and accessories.
“It is my goal to make longboard surfing my profession. When the brand is established I hope to offer real sponsorships and opportunities to younger guys who want to make a career out of longboarding,” says Weare, who also runs SA’s only longboard surfing magazine: saltsurfmag.com.
There will be a promotional CloudNine stand at the SA champs at New Pier this week.
But for now, it is certainly not sale of CloudNine merchandise that is on Weare’s mind.
For weeks on end, Weare’s internal clock has been waking him before sunrise every morning to get the beach and surf for at least two hours. This session is then repeated in the evenings, the time spent in the ocean dependent on how good the waves are.
But when the surf is choppy, onshore slop, Weare is often still seen in the ocean, paddling in and out, doing cardio vascular training.
Alternatively, he pretends that he is in 20-minute heats of the competition, which often do take place in atrocious surf conditions.
Not a huge fan of the gym, pushing weights and that kind of stuff, Brad has also been jogging a lot of late – and running 500 metre laps, holding his 9 foot longboard underarm.
“All this training is done on the beach. I try to find a quiet one with not too many people around,” says Brad.
But more important than all this physical training, says Weare, is one’s state of mind and emotional preparations.
“As one gets closer to the event, it all starts playing on one’s mind”, says Weare. “Thoughts of other competitors become intimidating, so it’s important to stay focused and calm, and visualize the yourself performing well, attaining the best results,” says Weare.
And that’s what Weare does before any big contest.
“I still get butterflies though,” Weare admits with a chuckle. – Additional reporting: Fred Kockott, Roving Reporters
- Brad Weare won the 2011 South African Longboard South African championship title.
- Editor’s note: This story landed Joel Burton’s byline in print.