A fitting tribute to Dave Fish

The 2016 SA Masters surfing championship was put on hold on Saturday afternoon for a massive paddle out as a tribute to the late Dave Fish who passed suddenly last Saturday. At 2:00pm the contest was out on hold as some 200 surfers launched into the sea at Cape St Francis beach to form a giant circle for the traditional floating memorial referred to as paddle out ceremony to celebrate the life of one of their own.

Some say the paddle out is an ancient Hawaiian tradition but it seems likely that it began in the early 1900’s. Some of the more renowned paddle outs include those of Andy Irons in 2010 when thousands turned out to honour the three times world champion at Huntington Beach. Another was for Duke Kahanamoku, considered the father of modern surfing and one of the most famous Beachboys of Waikiki, in 1968. At Kahanamoku’s paddle out ceremony, the Reverend Akaka presiding over the ceremony remarked, “God gave him to us as a gift from the sea, and now we give him back from whence he came.” Dave deserved no less a tribute as there can be no doubt that those who knew Dave will say much the same.

Hundreds of local residents of Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay and from farther afield lined the coastline from the beach to Seal Point to watch as the paddlers formed the giant circle before the traditional splashing.

Following the paddle out ceremony family, close friends and those who knew Dave gathered at Cape St Francis Resort for a more formal ceremony. Mickey Lindsay, a close friend dating back to his days as a young surfer in East London acting as MC again related as he did on Wednesday evening at the 2016 SA Masters Surfing Champs welcoming ceremony , wonderfully humorous anecdotes of Dave’s life before welcoming others to say a few words.

First up was John Elliot who praised Dave for the work done with FOSTER followed by Mark Maingard who enlightened many of Dave’s wish to play the harmonica causing Mark to present him with one along with tips of how to learn to play by starting with simple nursery time songs.

Of those who paid moving tributes to Dave was long-time friend of the family, Rebecca Tilders. Recounting how Dave and Judy had helped her through husband Helmie’s illness and eventual passing had more than one of those gathered with a tear. Rebecca also told of Dave’s love of roast beef and how he could smell out a roast beef dinner often phoning Rebecca on his way to Cape St Francis from East London to ask Rebecca what was for dinner. And it seemed he was spot on nine time out of ten times for indeed Rebecca was preparing roast beef.

Dave’s wife Judy speaking from the podium told of her wonderful life with Dave in spite of having to share him with his other wife, the sea. She spoke of their visiting Hawaii in the early days of their marriage and the other wonderful experiences of being with Dave.  Thanking all those who had been so supportive in the past days she made special mention of Rebecca amongst so many who had been supportive in calling, bringing food and flowers.

Last at the podium was son Simon who recounted life growing up with his dad, of his firmness yet fairness and of the many surfing experiences they had enjoyed together. Adding a little humour he too thanked all those who had offered so much support over the past week and for all the food and flowers adding that of all the food so generously given became a ‘bit of a completion with the chocolate chip cookies certainly the winner. In closing Simon spoke his wonderful 89 year old grandmother and of the tragic accident of his sister Amber and wonderful work his mom and dad were doing in her progress since her accident. Simon also thanked Fasie Malherbe and Cape St Francis Resort for making the facility available for the memorial ceremony and for the food and refreshments the resort had so generously provided for those attending the ceremony.

A moving memorial ceremony even for those who had only the briefest of encounters with a true sportsman, mentor, husband, father and gentleman.

RIP Dave.