South Africa has just added another world champion to its growing list of surfing superstars.
And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Steven “Steezy” Sawyer this week won the WSL World Longboard Championship at the Taiwan Open of Surfing.
It’s an amazing feat – excuse the pun since “walking” to the nose of the board is de rigeur if you want to win longboarding events – considering that Sawyer had to beat longboarding legend Kai Sallas from Hawaii in the final and another legend, Taylor Jensen, in the semi-final.
Jensen was the reigning and three-time world champ, and is not a guy you can knock over very easily.
Sawyer will remember the quaint village of Jinzun Harbour in the province of Taitung, Taiwan for many years to come as the place where he won his maiden world title, and hopefully for us success-starved fans, many more to come.
His languid but explosive surfing style and humble nature endeared him to the crowd in Taiwan, and the support was deafening at times as he marched steadily through the field.
He is an incredible talent, and even more so because he lacks the arrogance and gamesmanship of others in this genre of surfing.
He is always positive and never overbearing, and you’ll never hear him vloeking anyone in the water, or screaming at judges.
Not many people can be as completely at home on a longboard and a short board as young Steezy.
Nor can they count winning a WSL Qualifying Series event AND earning a wildcard into the 2017 J-Bay Open Championship Tour event.
Steezy, who is also a rather good guitarist, joins a long list of surfing troubadours who surfed competitively, such as Jack Johnson and Tim Curren, or if you cast a wider net, rock stars who surf, such as Kirk Hammett from Metallica or Perry Farrel from Jane’s Addiction.
But of course, a tad more appropriately for our discussion, Steezy joins a select group of South African-born WSL World Champions that includes Shaun Thomson, Wendy Botha, Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker and Jordy Smith (Junior Champs).
The Sawyer family are an institution in J-Bay. His mom, Cara, is a calm, nurturing mom, and his dad, Des, a top surfboard shaper. Steezy was chuffed: “My dad has been shaping me incredible boards recently, and they worked so well all event.”
Spare a thought for Sallas, the losing finalist, who despite 15 years of competing at the World Longboard Championships, has not won a maiden title, but retains his iconic status in the longboarding world.
The longboarding event in Taiwan moved straight into the WSL World Junior Surfing Championships (featuring Under-18 junior surfers), a first in WSL history to have the two events run at the same venue.
The women’s event has already been decided, with Kirra Pinkerton (USA) the winner. The best placed South African was Kai Woolf, who got as far as Round 3.
Two Lukes, as in Slijpen (Hout Bay) and Thompson (Durban), are through to Round 4 in the Men’s.
Medina Home Run?
As we head into the final event on the Men’s CT, with Stephanie Gilmore already bagging the women’s world title, you have to think that Gabby Medina from Brazil has it in him to win his second world title.
He was just 20 when he took the first, in 2014. Like him or not, he’s still young, but has added extra hunger and raw ambition to his already prodigious talent, and he already has a 4,740 point gap over his only two challengers, Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo.
A respite from hot and windy summer come through with mild westerlies, fun swell and even welcome rain this week, but today we see a transition back to default.
Light SW breezes bring onshore bump to a 3-4’ swell on the west side, while a clean 2’ swell in Muizenberg gives way to fresh onshore SSE into the evening, with tomorrow pumping SE again.
However, tomorrow’s straight clean offshores and 4’ surf suggest some clean green barrels, while Muizenberg suffers an onshore blast of murky white wash.@spike_wavescape