SURFER Dane Cox from Port Alfred was part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) team that won the overall title at South African Students Championships, thanks to the performance by the men and women on the day.
The 19-year-old Cox came ninth individually in the men’s division.
There was good surf and fine weather at Victoria Bay on the Southern Cape coast where the competition took place recently.
Cox said the general standard was a lot higher throughout the competition than last year when he took part
for the first time, when he was placed sixth and made it onto the South African University’s national team. But also believes he surfed better last year.
“This year every heat was difficult,” he said.
The NMMU team came third in the women’s division which contributed to the university’s score which lead them to win overall.
“The women really came to the party and played a big role in getting enough points together,” he said.
Also on the team was Kim Denton from Port Alfred who made it into the semi-finals at the competition.
Cox has taken part in King of the Kowie competitions in the past but has not had much time to compete lately as he is busy with the practical year of his National Diploma in Building from NMMU. He surfs in the evening about four times a week, whether the surf is good or bad.
He said oddly enough he only reluctantly got involved in the sport at the age of 10 when his friend got a surfboard as a present, and asked him to come along.
“‘No, that sucks’, I said, but I decided to go because it was his birthday,” said Cox.
After the second time of going along he was hooked. Before that he had no interest in surfing, but something just clicked for him.
“That was the end of me,” he joked.
He has lived in the area all his life, attending Port Alfred High School from Grade 1 to 7 and then Kingswood College until he matriculated.
While he was at school in Grahamstown he still managed to surf when he got home in the afternoons, until he became a weekly boarder and could only hit the waves on the weekend.
The highlight of his surfing career was last year when he excelled in the championships despite being the youngest to take part. Some students were as old as 27.
“I was very happy with that,” he said.
Cox is confident that starting surfing was the best decision he has ever made.
“It opens a lot of doors for work opportunities and you also get the chance to experience nature like no one else does, like seeing dolphins up close. When I’m out there I feel a powerful connection with the surf,” he said.
“The feeling of freedom when you are riding the waves also allows you to let go of your worries,” he said.
He also offered some straightforward advice for those who would like to try surfing.
“If you want to start don’t talk about it, just do it,” he said.
Cox’s team was sponsored by NMMU and Billabong at the championships. His board was made by Port Alfred shaper Anton Wiersma who has done all his boards.
Cox thanked Wiersma for supplying him with one of the best boards he has ever had and recommends him for other surfers.
Cox may be taking part in the Half Ironman next year.