Local Skipper Plays Key Role In Lewis Pugh’s Epic Achievement

Lewis Pugh’s gargantuan achievement assisted by local skipper

Some regular readers of St Francis Today, hopefully a lot of readers, would have followed the blog published on Sky.News.com of South African long distance swimmer Lewis Pugh’s gargantuan achievement of swimming, not across the English Channel but the 530km (330 miles) length of it.  Starting his epic swim at Land’s End and finishing, on schedule 49 days later in Dover, Pugh caught the attention of over two million readers with his daily blog.

Essential to the success of this ambitious, seemingly impossible swim was the support boat that would accompany the swimmer and as important as the boat itself, the skipper who would be responsible for considering every aspect of tides, wind and weather to bend the odds in favour of Lewis and not ocean.

And so a local Cape St Francis skipper joins the saga, Stephen Praetorius who is presently building a house in Cape St Francis. Brought up in Port Elizabeth and educated at Woodridge College, Steve became a professional skipper working his way up to eventually skippering super yachts.

Lewis thanking Steve African style

Meeting Steve on site at his partially complete wood frame house, Steve related the story of Lewis’ incredible accomplishment in which he, Steve, played a major role.

Steve met Lewis whilst working at St Francis Marine way back in 2011 when Lewis had visited the boat yard looking for suitable vessels for expeditions. This chance meeting led to a lasting friendship and over the years Steve assisted Lewis in planning several of his adventures.

In January this year Lewis called Steve and laid out his plans for this channel swim and asked Steve to skipper the support boat. Months of planning went into the event including sourcing the 42-foot catamaran to be used and assembling a suitable crew.

Finally with a crew of eight including Steve as the skipper, a biokineticist who looked after Lewis’ fitness and prepared him for each day’s swim as well as seconding as Lewis’ pace swimmer, a videographer, a storyteller to write the daily blog, a chief-of-staff for all the logistics aboard the boat and ashore, a chef and a deckhand.

As any ocean swimmer will attest, even those crazy St Francis open water swimmers who plough around the St Francis Bay canals every Friday evening, swimming against a tide poses a nigh impossible task and it was here that Steve played a such a key role in ensuring Lewis would achieve his goal of swimming at least 10 kilometres a day. As the boat often docked when Lewis was not swimming Steve to locate the exact GPS position where the previous day’s swim ended having already calculated the perfect time where the tide would best support the swim for around the 3 hours the 10 kilometres would take to ensure Lewis did not have to swim against the tide. By Steve’s own admission he got it wrong only once when the sea turned against Lewis but this was fortunately early on and fortunately did not affect the rest of the swim.

To best make use of weather and sea tide conditions, the swim would often only start late at night or early morning in the dark. Almost In support of Lewis’ quest the weather at large favoured the swim, for this past summer was one of Britain’s hottest on record. Even so diving into the icy channel in the dark, encountering jellyfish and other forms of sea life takes a very special mind which Steve explained is possibly Lewis’ strongest attribute.

Discussing his interaction during the days and nights together Steve explains “Lewis is more than passionate about what he is doing to make for a better world with cleaner oceans, it is hos calling. Many of us are passionate about what we do, very few though are totally committed.”

Thank you Lewis Pugh and to Steve for his part for his part in making this quest a success and drawing attention to the need to save and protect our oceans.

The purpose ofLewis’ swim was to raise awareness for better marine protection with a to have 30% of the world’s oceans protected by 2030. The current figure stands at around 4%. For those who didn’t follow the swim, a synopsis is available on Sky.News.com. (https://news.sky.com/story/long-swim-hes-home-lewis-pugh-completes-330-mile-length-of-english-channel-11485010)

We can all play our part and with a little effort you too can make a difference by being careful how you dispose of your plastic waste.






NSRI Save Man from Surf in JBay

National Sea Rescue

NSRI Save Man from Surf in JBay

NSRI Jeffreys Bay lifeguards, having completed a routine training exercise at Pellsrus Beach on Monday(17th Sept) evening noticed a commotion on the beach front and went to investigate.

A crowd had gathered and were raising concerns and attempting to encourage a man to safety who while sitting on rocks close to the water’s edge, the man had entered the surf and appeared to be out of his depth and in difficulties.

NSRI lifeguard Luzuko Mkubeni and Ettiene van Gent, NSRI Jeffreys Bay station 37 Lifesaving Unit Captain went into the surf while the NSRI trainee lifeguard Craig Sampson ran to the NSRI sea rescue station to fetch fins and a rescue torpedo buoy and to raise the alarm.

Ettiene and Luzuko were able to reach the man in the surfline and bring him safely to the shore where the SA Police Services patrol officers had arrived on the scene.

The local adult male, aged in his mid-20’s, was taken into the care of the Police officers and he has been reunited with his family who also arrived on the scene and no further assistance was required.

“It was by coincidence that we  were there in that moment having earlier changed plans from training at the Marina to rather training at the beach and we commend the members of the public who raised the alarm on the beach alerting us to this incident’ said Ettiene after the rescue..

This photograph was taken during training over the weekend

Beyrick de Vries Tames Typhoon Swell

Beyrick de Vries Tames Typhoon Swell on Opening Day of ISA World Surfing Games in Japan

Beyrick de Vries of uMhlanga posted the highest heat total in the challenging overhead typhoon swell conditions for the opening day of the Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games at Long Beach in Tahara, Japan on Sunday.

A well establish international campaigner, de Vries is a member of the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team competing against national teams from 42 nations in the event that crowns Men’s, Women’s and Team champions annually.

De Vries, who last represented South Africa as a junior in New Zealand in 2010, posted a pair of seven point rides for a two heat tally of 14.27, one of just a handful of double-digit totals on the day. He was joined by male team mates and fellow heat winners Adin Masencamp of the Strand and David van Zyl of Glenashley in Round 2 of the Qualifying Stream of the double-elimination format used in ISA events.

Team captain Bianca Buitendag of Victoria Bay made full use her World Tour experience, winning her opening encounter in the women’s division with a total of 7.17. A bronze medalist at the corresponding event in France last year, Buitendag explained the significance of the World Surfing Games now that surfing has been accepted as a sport for the 2020 Olympics.

“It’s great to get out in the water with 42 other nations,” said Buitendag. “This is a really unique event that has the power to bring people together from all over the world. This event is another stepping stone to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so I definitely want to win. We are getting ready for the World Surfing Games when it is an Olympic qualifier next year.”

Multiple event winner Nicole Pallet of La Lucia racked up 5.2 points to finish second in her first match up of the event and also advanced to Round 2. But rookie South African team member Zoe Steyn of East London dropped into the cutthroat Repecharge Rounds when she placed third in her Round 1 duel.

The 14-year-old needed a score of just 1.28 to advance but missed out by 0.10 of point and now faces a difficult route to reach the final round of the event. Several surfers have won ISA titles after dropping into the Repecharge stream after Round 1, notably Steyn’s compatriot Jordy Smith of Durban who won the ISA Men’s title in California in 2006.

The task is made more arduous by surfers in the Repercharge Rounds having to compete in nearly twice as many heats, each of which is only 15 minutes duration and any result other than first or second sees them sidelined from the event.

The Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games were officially opened by ISA President Fernando Aguerre on Saturday after the signature Parade of Nations through the streets of Tahara and the traditional Sands of World ceremony where delegates from each nation pour sand from their beaches into a custom made receptacle.

Notable attendees included Chief Operating Officer of Tokyo 2020, Yukihiko Nunomura, and the Sports Director of Tokyo 2020, Koji Murohushi, as Aguerre addressed the assembled crowd.

“The 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games are particularly special because we are in an Olympic cycle. For more than 20 years we paddled to catch that elusive wave and we finally did it, including surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Games. Also, this edition is historic due to that fact that men and women slots are equal, showing our commitment to gender equality in surfing.”

The event webcast will be streamed on www.isasurf.org from Saturday 15 to Saturday 22 September. Team rosters, photos, videos, results and news will be available on the ISA website throughout the event.

The World Games can also be viewed on the ISA Facebook page (International Surfing Association), on Instagram (@ISAsurfing) and on Twitter (@ISAsurfing)

Mercedes-Benz and Buffalo City are supporting the South African Surfing Team’s participation in the ISA World Surfing Games for the second successive year.

Surfing South Africa is the governing body for the sport in South Africa and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the African Surfing Confederation (ASC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA). Surfing South Africa is recognised and supported by the National Department of Sport and Recreation.

All South African surfing teams that participate in international events are chosen by the National Selectors and, in terms of the SSA Constitution, are ratified by the Board of Directors of Surfing South Africa.

Press release – Robin de Kock – General Manager – Surfing South Africa