Photos: © Van Gysen
Donkey Bay in Namibia was the location of an impromptu surf event that brought together surfers from across the world to battle it out in the ocean for N$30,000 (R30,000). The Skeleton Shootout, fuelled by Monster Energy, was a unique event that saw surfers compete in various categories, with the winners chosen by their peers.
The Skeleton Coast is renowned for its world-class wave on the west side of Walvis Bay’s natural harbour spit; big swells from storms deep in the Arctic Circle produce the longest-running barrelling waves on the planet. This natural surfing wonder attracts a large group of passionate surfers eager to showcase their skills from around the globe.
There were four categories in which surfers could compete. These included Surfer of the Swell, Best Wave, Best Female, and Best Local. Each category had its own criteria, with photographers, videographers, and fellow surfers collectively deciding who wins based on their performance over the swell.
To celebrate and thank the local Namibian surf scene, the Best Local award was reserved for local surfers who had experience and a deep understanding of Donkey Bay. This category celebrated their connection to the wave and the recognition from international professionals. Walvis Bay local Damien Lackey turned heads and was the deserved winner of this category, along with the N$5,000 prize.
The Best Female category celebrated the female surfers tackling the hollow barrelling waves on offer and awarded to the female surfer who threaded her way through the best barrel. Basque Country’s Nadia Erostarbe (Spain) successfully navigated an incredible barrel, much to the delight of all onlookers, to take home the N$5,000 prize purse.
The Best Wave category was a nod to the surfer who caught the best wave during the swell. From the take-off to the finish, their peers and beach onlookers scored the surfer based on the quality of their wave and their performance in the barrel; this award and N$10,000 went to Cape Town’s Jordy Maree for riding a 45-sec long barrel on one of the best waves of the swell.
Finally, the Surfer of the Swell category was designed to celebrate the best overall performance of a surfer throughout the entire swell. It was awarded to the surfer who displayed consistent skill, style, and time in the barrel. This was a tough decision, with solid performances from surfers making the long journey to Donkey Bay representing France, Portugal, Australia, Spain, Indonesia, and South Africa. In the end, one name was synonyms on everyone’s lips when asked who deserved the title of Surfer of the Swell and the N$10,000 prize; this was Cape Town’s Max Elkington.
In the end, everyone who participated in this innovative event was a winner. The event was a great success, bringing together the surf community in Namibia and celebrating the bonds between surfers far and wide.
For those who missed out on the Skeleton Shootout this year, be sure to keep an eye out for 2024’s event. Namibia’s surf scene is growing in popularity, and with its epic wave, it is quickly becoming one of the top surfing destinations in the world.
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