Known as one of the Eastern Cape’s most radical ‘goofy-footers’ for his moves as a left-handed surfer on SA’s waves, Bertie Stuurman has recently been awarded a surfing scholarship by the International Surfing Association for his consistent contest performances in 2007. Surfing from the tender age of 12, waterbaby Bertie from Pellsrus in Jeffrey’s Bay, started competing with the best in SA and abroad in 2003. In 2007, at 17, Bertie won second-place at the SA Surfing Championships in East London in the under-20 division. He also went on to represent his province at the O’Neill Junior Championships in Port Elizabeth and at the end of 2007, was selected as part of the 2008 SA Junior Surfing Squad.
The day I started surfing! I was on the beach with my friends and we approached Etienne Venter, the current president of Eastern Province surfing and co-owner of J-Bay Surf School, who offered to teach us to ride the waves for free!
Time of day
After I have finished my homework, because that is when I head out to the beach to catch some waves. The weekend is non-stop surfing for me. Come rain or shine, I’m out on the water.
I don’t have a favourite wipe-out – they all suck! It happened most when I first started surfing. We all fall – and it’s scary. It’s just a matter of picking yourself and your board up and finding the next super tube to ride!
My biggest and best wave was about 6ft high at Supertubes in Jeffrey’s Bay. It was incredible – a hollow wave made of dreams that just ran all the way out to the beach.
Most commonly, the worst is when someone drops in on your wave. This is reason enough for disqualification in big competitions, but people still do it. It’s shows lack of respect towards another surfer, and I am proud to say that I have never done this professionally.
Under the sea
Thank goodness I have never seen a shark while out on the water, but I was attacked by an octopus. My friends who heard me yelling just thought it was the funniest thing… I did not! I have also swum alongside dolphins. They seem to race with you – a silent competition they know they’ll win.
A good jog up and down the beach always gets me warmed up and ready to paddle out to sea. I also swim against the current – this gives me a really good workout.
Favourite pre-competition munchies
Grape Energade, Jungle Oats Energy Bar and a toasted chicken mayonnaise sandwich fuel me up for my best moves; vertical snaps and big floaters.
Meal out on the town
I love chicken, so roast chicken and chips would be my first choice and a double-thick chocolate milkshake to wash it all down.
Any place where great food and good people come together – that’s where you’ll find me. If I’m not chilling at a friend’s house having a braai, I love going to the Jeffrey’s Bay KFC. Besides the tasty chicks you can get there (no pun intended!) it’s a good place to meet people.
When I need to put my feet up, after a hard day on the surf, I wind down on Tom and Jerry – they always crack me up! Step Up and the new Rambo movie are also favourites of mine that I can watch over and over.
South African author, Dalene Matthee’s book, Kringe in ‘n Bos is something I feel everyone should read. It taught me about bravery, perseverance and love for nature.
Sound of music
I love the sounds of Linkin Park, Chris Brown and me in the shower! It’s the best place to sing.
My first wish is to be the Surfing World Champion. Second, I want to surf in Mexico. Third, I want to make my country proud.
First, my coach Etienne, who made everything possible. My life made a 360 degree turn-around the day I started surfing. I am now a champ and going onto greater things – what an advantage! Second, my favourite surfer, the legendary Mexican-American Bobby Martinez. He is awesome. Third is my family, who have been very supportive of my surfing dreams.
I have to say, without a doubt in my mind; Halle Berry. Maybe one day she’ll notice me as a celeb’ surfer and then we’ll catch some waves together or even, make a movie?
At the moment, my beautiful 5’10” white Rebel surf board – need I say more?
My surfing kit – I don’t leave home without it.
Life without the ocean?
This would be like not breathing for me, but if I was born in a land-locked country, I would probably have been a cricketer or soccer player – and hopefully I would’ve stayed away from habits that would bring me down, like drugs and alcohol. I realise how different life would’ve been for me without the sea.
Advice to aspiring surfers
Stay away from drugs and find out about surfing opportunities in your area. It doesn’t have to cost you much to start surfing – especially if you have talent! People will help you if you just ask.
Author: Charlene Yared-West. Currently Unpublished.