The Madibaz surfing team, which contained several new members, will learn from the experience they gained at the University Sport South Africa contest this month.
The competition was held in Victoria Bay near George from July 11 to 14 and the Nelson Mandela University squad ended third overall, with captain Greg Cuthbert qualifying for the men’s individual final.
Cuthbert said he felt the team had stepped up to the plate during the competition.
“For many of them it was their first time competing in a serious contest and every single one gave it their all,” he said.
“I’m a very proud team captain and we’ll definitely build on this in preparation for next year.”
He added that surfing was about getting the right conditions and often competitors were at the mercy of mother nature.
“The conditions at Vic Bay this year were very tricky for the most part,” said Cuthbert.
“For instance, the first day of competition for the men started off relatively small and it was difficult to choose the right wave that would give you scoring potential.
“Throughout the day the waves slowly started getting bigger and the women’s first round kicked off in very challenging conditions.
“Day two consisted of some very big and wild conditions, while day three got a lot smaller with ideal conditions for most of it, which made for an incredible finals day.”
He added that they often faced quite different conditions in Port Elizabeth.
“I think getting used to waves of consequence is a big factor in calming the nerves and performing at your best and I think we’ll need to train in conditions like that for the future.
“Also, quite a few of our team members were surfing in a contest for the first time, which obviously creates some nerves. We should definitely try to hold more local contests.”
After what he described as an average year in terms of his personal results, Cuthbert said it was “an awesome feeling just to make the final”.
“I think that I surfed very well this time compared to last year. I came into the contest with the mindset of having fun and giving it my all.
“The final was fairly slow in terms of the number of waves that came through.
“It was a 25-minute final with four surfers having qualified. In terms of my performance I think I surfed my best heat in the final but ended up coming fourth.”
The overall individual title went to Sean Joubert from Stellenbosch University, while UCT won the team title, with Stellenbosch second.