A public-private partnership project has saved a Port Elizabeth surfing competition which is lauded as the biggest single-fin longboard competition in the world.
The project started a little more than a year ago when Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality coastal environment manager Godfrey Murrell told organisers of the annual Cobbles Classic competition at Cape Recife that their surfers were damaging sensitive dune vegetation and the competition was going to have to be stopped.
Gregg Clarke, president of the SA Longboarding Association and part of the Loggers’ Union in the Bay, got together with the Cape Recife Conservancy and they went to see Murrell.
“Godfrey was getting peeved with us because our guys were running up onto the dune to check the waves and the vegetation was getting wrecked. So we said: ‘What about a deck?’” Clarke said.
The competition site on the eastern shore of the municipal Cape Recife Nature Reserve was a unique surf spot, he said.
“In the right conditions it’s up there with the best longboarding spots in the world.
“The wave is not steep enough for shortboarding but it breaks forever and is perfect for longboards.”
The Cobbles Classic was geared around single-fin longboards and Malibus typically without leashes, offering a world-class “back-to-the-roots” surfing event, he said.
The parties talked through the deck proposal and it was approved, with an agreement that the R30 000 cost would be split three ways among the Loggers’ Union, the conservancy and the municipality.
Work got going with the municipality supplying R10 000 worth of timber.
Pine Lodge, a key member of the conservancy, did the building.
The deck was now built and with the next edition of the competition coming up on September 24, the surfers were more than happy, Clarke said.