By Daryn Wood
RISING STAR: Robin van der Merwe is a surfer to watch out for, having excelled in recent local and national competitions.
A YOUNG Walmer schoolgirl is making waves in the surfing world.
Robin van der Merwe, 14, took first place in the Eastern Cape Grom competition at the end of last year and finished second in the SA Grom Games earlier this year.
Both competitions were held at Pipe on Pollok beach.
A grom, short for grommet, is a term for a young surfer, usually under the age of 15.
But Robin is a force to be reckoned with and should not be taken lightly. The Victoria Park High pupil started surfing at a young age and has been competitive for the last three years.
“I used to go for lessons when I was young. I was getting better and wanted to get out there and I eventually started competing,” said Robin.
The Fordyce Road resident began surfing “foamies”, which is riding a wave after it has broken, to get used to standing up on a board.
Robin, whose sister and cousins also surf, was a quick learner and soon mastered the art.
The dedicated teen wakes up at 4.30am every day to hit the beach before school.
“I try to find all the time I can to surf,” said Robin, who can usually be found at Pipe.
“I have school, homework and extra maths lessons. But I cope.”
Robin is coached by Shannon Ainslie once a week and undergoes video analysis. She studies the tapes to see where she is going wrong.
The water baby tries to surf as much as possible and admits to putting her sport before her school work.
“It is tough to get past my mom, though,” she laughs.
Robin finds catching waves much more appealing.
“I love the adrenaline rush, it is just so much fun. When I am in the water I do not think about anything else. You can just goof off.”
When there are no waves, Robin is on her skateboard or at the gym.
She enters as many competitions as she can and says her next challenge will be the SA Junior Champs in Durban later this year.
“I just want to do the best I can. My goal is to get a sponsor and make surfing my career.”