Supporting South Africa’s surfing talent all the way to the world stage
South Africa has a vibrant surfing community bursting with young talent. Our world-renowned surf breaks, like Super Tubes in Jeffreys Bay, have become proving grounds for young ‘groms’, eager to claim a position on the local competitive leg.
Once a grom, but now climbing the junior ratings, Zia Hendricks, has been one of the recipients of the annual Sea Harvest surfing excellence award, granted to surfers with great potential but who need some support to compete at the highest level. She has received this award for the past four years, providing her with necessary funding and support to take her across the country to compete.
With a huge love for the ocean, Zia has always been eager to push herself in challenging waves. At only 8 years of age, she was selected for the Mandela Bay team to compete in the Surfing South Africa Grommet Games, where she reached the finals. Since anchoring her position as the ‘grom to watch’, Zia has made a name for herself at Super Tubes, a difficult wave that breaks along a rocky point in Jeffreys Bay.
Zia has really dug her feet into the wax, having competed in four South African Junior Championships, numerous national contests and against a French team in Durban in early 2020. She won numerous tournaments and reached the finals in others, proving that she is a force to be reckoned with in the water. These achievements have earned Zia a top-ranked position in her division on the South African Surf Tour, no easy feat for any upcoming surfer.
“To maintain a position on the tour, competitors have to frequently travel around the country and have the right equipment in order to stand a chance against fellow competitors. Recognising her and other talented surfers’ potential to become professional athletes, we wanted to provide Zia with the support and resources to be able to keep up with the best on the tour. This was made possible through our partnership with Surfing South Africa,” says Jared Patel, head of marketing at Sea Harvest.
Sea Harvest partnered with Surfing South Africa in 2016, becoming the main sponsor of junior surfing in South Africa. Each year Sea Harvest sponsors four juniors to compete on a national level and 12 junior events around the country. This surfing sponsorship programme is part of Sea Harvest’s commitment towards youth development, transformation and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
“Surfing has really gained more international recognition in recent years,” says Patel. “With the growth of the World Surf League and the announcement that surfing will become an official Olympic sport at the Olympics in Tokyo, we wanted to give developing talent the best chance to reach this level.”
In March 2021, Zia will be joining her role-model, Bianca Buitendag, at a specialised high-performance surf training camp. As a former world tour contender and Olympic qualifier, Bianca will be mentoring the groms who will be monitored and supported ahead of their inclusion in Surfing SA’s Olympic Vision 2024 squad that will be participating in the Paris Olympics in 2024.