Jeffreys Bay’s world champ Steven Sawyer off to surf in Mexico
WSL longboard champion elated at victory
Longboard world champion Steven Sawyer will have to be on top of his game when he jets off to Mexico for the Mexi Log Fest later in April.
Sawyer, 24, who claimed the world title at the World Surf League’s Taiwan Open of Surfing in December, will compete in the Mexico event, from April 28 to May 7.
The Log Fest, which will be held in La Saladita, Guerrero, will feature 100 of the top competitive single-fin traditional longboarders from all corners of the world to surf the best left point break in Mexico, with the mission to leave something positive with the Saladita community.
He will also compete in another tour, the Surf Relik Longboard world tour, which will see two events being held at Malibu and Lower Trestles in California later in 2019.
The Jeffreys Bay resident also recently returned from the Noosa Longboard Open in Australia, where he took a hardfought second place finish with a score of 16.10 in the final, only .27 points behind eventual champion Justin Quintal.
Sawyer said being the WSL longboard world champion was a surreal feeling, as he had finished in the top 16 of the rankings for three of the past four years.
“The event was crazy. I had so many people in my corner.
“The support was radical, so during every wave, I would hear a war cry from the beach, which helped motivate me – but it was also like a warning to my opponents because when they heard that, they would think something amazing was going down in the water,” he said.
For his final heat, Sawyer went up against longboarding legend Kai Sallas in a nail-biting 25-minute final showdown.
“It wasn’t necessarily in the bag until the siren went – just at the end of the heat I had priority, so I could choose the better wave out of the set.
“I did better my score on that wave, and when he went, he didn’t quite beat my score.
“I thought I had gotten it, but we still had to wait on the beach for about five minutes so the judges could tally the final scores, which was incredibly nerve-wracking,” he said.
Born and bred in one of the surfing meccas of the country, Sawyer has spent 15 years in the waters of JBay and beyond.
Asked why he chose surfing, Sawyer said: “Well I have a PhD in surfing, so that is all I can do.
“I would say my parents were the ones who inspired me to take up the sport – my dad has been shaping surfboards for over 50 years so surfing has just been in my family for the longest time.”
Sawyer is a musician as well.
“For me, surfing and music go hand in hand, it’s like a mother with two children, she doesn’t love one child more than the other.
“Surfing never gets old, you don’t ride the same wave twice, every wave is different, every board is different and it’s the closest you can possibly get to nature.
“It’s like people wanting to ride a horse – riding a wave has the same kind of vibe in that you cannot tell the wave what to do, it’s going to do what it wants, the only thing you can control is the timing and positioning,” he said.
Sawyer has also represented South Africa on three occasions between 2009 and 2012, competing for the country at numerous International Surfing Association events during those years.
Of his musical prowess, Sawyer said he learnt from his parents as well as just listening to musicians who regularly visited his home as a youngster.
“Living in J-Bay with my dad making surfboards, we had a lot of cool cats and musicians who surf, coming to catch some swells, so I always use to ask them to teach me something, and it gradually started to grow from there,” he said.
Sawyer has already released an album on iTunes and Spotify, titled Steven Sawyer – Summer Daze.
He said a few new projects were in the pipeline as well, set for release in the not-too-distant future.