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Written byJosh Raynham

Sun, surf, and not a breath of wind, Rolling Retro ’23 was all that we had hoped for and more.

In the wake of the Two Oceans Marathon on Sunday, tucked away down South, Llandudno was holding host to the 2023 Rolling Retro surf competition and man was it hosted. Cape Town came out with some top-of-the-line weather for those surfers and spectators who headed down to the beach for a day out in the sun.

After last year’s monster swell the competitors were eager to what sights they would be met with when they arrived at the beach, and with rumours of the rising swell the day before many people were suspecting a re-run of last year’s long paddle out.

The waves were not on the light side, but amongst the heavier water, there were absolute gems to be found. This combined with almost no wind the entire day meant that surfers across the heats could find those nuggets.

Some of the early standouts in the morning heats were, Team Scarbarbarians (Manoah Robb especially and World Kneeboard Champ, Tom Gray), Team Pit Viper (Who were also an event sponsor) and local Lifeguard team, Murray owes a Naked Surf, who know the spot like the back of their hands.

“This is the first year we have used a team format and it proved to be well over expectations. With over a hundred surfers getting into the water, the turnout was spectacular. Definitely, something we will be bringing back in the years to follow” – Kai Linder

This year saw the format change up quite a bit from previous years. Whilst individuals could sign up alone the competition was based on a team or group format. Individuals who did come flying solo were subsequently placed into a team needing extra surfers. This brought an opportunity for those looking to surf but didn’t quite manage to pull together a full team, and with the focus on fun, it saw new friends being made in the lineup. There were no craft divisions or male and female, everyone surfed together, and the teams were scored out of 50. Teams paddled out with surfboards, bodysurf handguns, kneeboards and bodyboards.

With so many teams in the water, the surfing was on point throughout the day. As the barrels rolled in and with the swell rising high as it hit the sandbank one looked out and couldn’t help froth for those paddling out. The surfing kept getting better and after all the heats were surfed, it was, Team Bomax up against the hosts, Team Vudu in the first semifinal. The Bomax team was fully loaded with Dale Staples, Ryan Payne, Ike Forsythe and Josh Brodie, along with team captain, Dion Walters. Team Vudu came out blazing, with the event organizer, Robby MacDonald getting 2 tubes, but the Bomax guys muscled their way into the finals.

In the second semifinal, it was the young guns of, Team Jeets PM, loaded with top QS surfers, Luke Thompson, Luke Slijpen, Connor Slijpen, Eli Beukes and Noah Khan, the top qualifiers, dropping hammers in a hard-fought battle with the Scarbarbarians who brought in the likes of Jake Maritz, Tor Bovin, Tom Grey, Manoa Robb, and Diego Domingues. The deep south surfers went down swinging, but it was the Jeets who took the place in the final.

The finals got underway, and the waves kept pouring in. Eli Beukes pulled into one of the craziest tubes of the day, eagerly egged on by the loud crowd, only to get clipped by the foam ball and go down hard (He would go on to win the “Best Wipeout” award). The older gents of Team Bomax took a while to get going and they never really were able to catch up to the new guard, as the Jeet’s PM took the first-ever Rolling Retro, team title!

With so many crafts in the water the variety of styles and manoeuvres gave the crowd the show they were hoping for. Ending in a jovial prize giving it was Muizenberg local Tash Van Greunen who walked away with the “Best Female Surfer” award. Her powerful cutbacks and vertical top turns once again proving why she is top of the QS in SA. The “Best Grom” award went to local surfer Connor Slijpen. Finally, surfing for team Bomax and winning the “Best Male Surfer” award was Dale Staples who charged hard and showed the youngsters how it is done.

The day ended with DJ Dion Walters spinning a funky collection of beats as the sun set in a fiery blaze of orange. Thus, bringing an end to Rolling Retro 2023 and once again proving that this is the best beach day of the year and one of the coolest vintaging surf competitions out there!

Photo by Ian Thurtell

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