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Durban - A Richards Bay surfing legend is recovering in hospital after the massive waves that caused the cargo ship MV Smart to run aground outside the North Coast port broke his leg while he was surfing nearby.
Freddie Le Roux, 51, a prominent surfer and surf shop owner, said the incident on Monday happened quickly.
Roux’s business partner and friend, Judy Dearling, said Roux had been surfing at a break called Senorita at the time.
She said on special days it was possible to ride a left-breaking wave from Senoritas for about 500m until the south edge of Naval Island. “The waves in the harbour were about 2m to 2.5m. The swell at sea was probably in excess of 5m,” Dearling said.
Roux said he was wave riding a stand-up paddle board when he saw a nice lip with a floater possibility. Roux then did a bottom turn.
“When I hit the lip, the force of the wave was too great. The sea and wave overpowered me. I broke my tibia and fibia bones on my right leg. I underwent surgery on Monday night. If all goes well I hope to be discharged soon,” he said.
Steel pins have been inserted into his leg to hold it in place.
Dearling said once or twice a year, surfers got lucky when the wave swell and wind direction hits the mark and the waves pour into the harbour. She described Monday as one of those epic days.
John Cawood, of the blog Surf Alliance, described Roux as a water sports legend. Cawood said the well-known waterman, coach and reigning Grand Kahunas Longboard Champion was practising for the upcoming South African Masters Champs which will take place in Mossel Bay in September.
Roux was aiming to be the first South African surfer to make three finals in the same year in long boarding, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and short boarding.
“I have surfed for 38 odd years. This is my first serious injury related to surfing. Last year I could not take part in the stand up paddle champs because I broke my toe,” Roux said.
Roux has two sons, Dylan and Byron. Among his accolades Roux accompanied the South African Surfing Team in 1982 to South America as the team coach. He is the reigning SA Masters longboard champ and came 4th in this year’s stand-up paddle wave riding championship.
Dearling said he had his sights set on a hat-trick of Gold at the SA Masters Shortboard champs in Mossel Bay in September. “Sadly that will not be a possibility now.”