Commencement of Wreck Removal Operations of ‘Elke M’ at St Francis Bay

Commencement of Wreck Removal Operations of ‘Elke M’ at St Francis Bay

The process to appoint the contractor for the removal of the wrecked fishing vessel, the ELKE M whichran aground on Saturday 06 January 2024 in Port St Francis, is nearing completion. The vessel had 24 crew and they were all brought to safety after they abandoned ship.

A contractor Resolve Marine has been identified and the process of appointing is underway subject to conclusion of discussions with authorities.

This removal operation, necessitated by the vessel’s grounding and its position in an environmentally sensitive area, will initially concentrate on reduction of the wreck to the waterline level, followed by a process to split the sub-sea section into multiple sections for scuttling. Given the complexity and sensitivity of the task, the operation is expected to take at least two months, with a targeted completion before the onset of the winter season.

The costs for the whole operation are covered by the Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I Club) as an insurer.

In the lead-up to this phase, favourable weather and sea conditions have enabled the removal of more than 27,000 litres of marine fuel from the vessel. The incident management team, aided by helicopter assistance, had prioritized the removal of remaining fuel and non-oil pollutants, successfully transferring these to designated disposal sites.

Pollutants and Wreck Removal Directives have been issued in line with the Wreck and Salvage Act and the Marine Pollution (Control & Civil Liability) Act, underscoring the commitment to environmental safety and compliance throughout this operation.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) continues to oversee the operation, in close collaboration with the Incident Management Structure (IMS). This collaborative effort involves the vessel’s owners, the insurers (P&I Club), municipal officials, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), environmental management authorities and organizations, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and the National Department of Transport.

SAMSA recognizes the environmental challenges posed by the wreck, appreciates the great effort made to date to prevent pollution and is fully committed to conducting the removal operation with outmost efficiency and environmental sensitivity. SAMSA will continue to provide updates as the operation progresses.

Issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

For any further information please contact Tebogo Ramatjie on 0673255276


JBay’s Jordy Smith Gets 5th Place at Pipeline, Hawaii.

BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu, Hawaii, USA (Sunday, February 11, 2024) – Caitlin Simmers (USA) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) won the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI, Stop No. 1 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). Simmers defeated Molly Picklum (AUS), while Mamiya took down two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) in the Finals, held in picture-perfect six-to-eight-foot waves at Pipeline. These victories mark the first CT event wins at Pipeline for Simmers and Mamiya.  

The swell showed up for Finals Day and offered a dreamy canvas for the world’s best athletes to showcase their talent on one of the heaviest waves on earth. A massive day of competition in incredible conditions delivered the first-ever Perfect 10 in a women’s CT at Pipeline, highlighting an iconic day that featured match-ups that will go down in history.

Simmers Wins Pipe, Heads to Sunset as World No. 1 

In just her second season among the world’s best surfers, Caitlin Simmers(USA) claimed a statement win at Pipeline, fearlessly attacking the solid Backdoor and Banzai waves all day. This marks the 18-year-old’s third victory on the CT and cements her place as one of the brightest stars of professional surfing.

“This wave is terrifying; I respect everyone who wants a part of it and everyone who doesn’t because it’s really scary out there,” Simmers said. “It starts with all the girls that battled the guys and barely got any waves, and I hope that this event showed the girls can do it. We’re getting spat out all day, and it’s pretty cool to see. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

The women’s Final featured a battle between last season’s World No. 4 and No. 5, Simmers and Picklum, culminating their success through the draw this week as the event’s overall standouts in Hawaiian waters. 

Picklum put her foot on the gas first with yet another incredible ride at Backdoor to post a 9.27 (out of a possible 10) as her first score for the early lead. Simmers did not back out of the fight and came back at her opponent with a similarly deep tube on a foamy right for an 8.83 to stay right in the battle. With time ticking down, both surfers were still sitting on minimal backup scores, though a smart, two-turn combination from Simmers gave her the edge to apply pressure on Picklum. The Australian got a last roll of the dice in the dying seconds but failed to make a backhand barrel, and Simmers walked away with the win.

“Molly’s a guru; she’s probably the best girl out here, in my opinion,” Simmers said of her opponent. “One heat out here is like months of experience, and getting barrelled in a heat with your friend is the most fun thing in the world.”

Earlier in the day, Simmers scored an incredible Backdoor gem, posting a 9.17 (out of a possible 10) for a double overhead clean barrel, only matched by her precise technique to get a clean exit. This near-perfect ride set the Oceanside local on a path to victory in the first event of the season.

Picklum Finds Perfection at Pipe, Secures Runner-Up Position 

On her way to the Final, Molly Picklum (AUS) found the first 10-point ride of the 2024 season at the most revered wave on the planet, redefining the boundaries of women’s surfing. The Australian, who has been chasing that perfect backhand tube at the Banzai Pipeline all week, finally found herself in the right position. Dropping very late into a double-up, she barely squeezed under the lip before coming out with the spit to collect the perfect score for her flawless technique and commitment.

The 21-year-old will head to the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach as the defending event champion, in second position on the CT rankings. She will undoubtedly be one of the favourites again next week, especially if the waves keep pumping as expected.

“We were so blessed today to have Pipeline in its absolute best day of days, and to be out there with Caity was amazing,” Picklum said. “I was enjoying every moment and enjoying the rides. It feels like a second home here, and I’m thankful for all the locals that are really encouraging us women, show us around and show us how it’s done.”

Mamiya Finds Magic at Pipeline, Wins with Perfect 10-Point Ride

Barron Mamiya (HAW), a 24-year-old Haleiwa local, claimed the Lexus Pipe Pro presented by YETI men’s title in fantastic fashion, overcoming Florence in pumping surf to claim an early pole position on the 2024 CT rankings. Mamiya, who arrived on Tour after a wildcard victory in the 2022 Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, is no stranger to wearing the yellow jersey and will be lethal just up the road next week.

“That 10, I literally can’t believe I made it,” Mamiya said. I was in the barrel and couldn’t believe I came out. Without John, Jamie (O’Brien), and Uncle D (Derek Ho), I wouldn’t be who I am. I watched these guys surf my entire life, and watching John here is how I learned to get barrels at Pipeline, so I give him lots of credit for the way I surf.”

The all-Hawaiian men’s Final witnessed 2021 Pipe victor and mainstay Florence and proven Pipe charger Mamiya battling in their own backyard. The first exchange was a split of the peak, Mamiya going left and Florence right, with the two-time World Champion getting the nudge, earning a 7.33 over his opponent’s 6.00. Only moments later, both surfers started on back-to-back lefts, and while Florence’s first wave of the set looked good, Mamiya behind got way deeper on a bigger wave and rode it to perfection, scoring a Perfect 10-point ride, the second to be claimed on an epic Finals Day. As time slowly ran out, Florence found a few more opportunities, trying to manufacture a score out of lesser quality waves, but was unsuccessful, sealing the deal on Mamiya’s second tour victory, his first at Pipeline.

“Growing up on the North Shore, this is an event that you always want to win,” Mamiya added. “To finally win it, with John in the Final, and to get a 10, I’m literally at a loss for words. I’ll definitely never forget this day for the rest of my life.”

Florence Passes the Torch to Fellow North Shore Charger, Settles for Runner-Up

Two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) added another impeccable run to a long list of results from his home event, continuing to post incredible scores in most heats on his way to a fourth Final appearance at Pipeline. This marked Florence’s 100th career CT event, and he has his eyes set on a big year ahead with renewed vigour for competition. 

“Just growing up here and getting to surf this wave my whole life, I feel like it’s a huge privilege,” Florence said. “It was awesome to have Barron in the Final, he’s such a good surfer, that 10 was so crazy. Being a competitor, you don’t want to see it, but that was pretty sick. I’m really excited for this year, I was having a lot of fun competing and I really can’t wait for the next heat.” 

At 31 years of age and after nearly 15 years on Tour, Florence’s passion for competing looks intact and his motivation and relaxed attitude promise more exciting battles as the CT continues next week at Sunset.

Women’s Semifinal Will Go Down in Surfing’s History Books

The second women’s Semifinal will go down in surfing history books as arguably the most entertaining showdown ever witnessed on the women’s CT. Picklum and Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) put everything they had on the line at both Banzai Pipeline and Backdoor, locking into deep, radical barrels on multiple occasions throughout their 30-minute matchup. 

Picklum had her 10-point ride and seemed untouchable on her way to the Final, but in the dying moments of the heat, Sakura Johnson found an iconic Banzai left and rode it brilliantly with a late take-off, barely making it under the lip. The 18-year-old threaded the barrel high to exit cleanly, earning an 8.33, slightly shy of the 8.61 requirement needed to turn the heat. Regardless, the boundary-breaking match-up will be remembered for decades to come as one of the epic battles of Pipeline.

Earlier in the day, the Hawaiian scored one of the event’s best waves, with a near-perfect 9.70. The wave stood up tall on the Backdoor reef and accelerated as the Hawaiian matched its speed perfectly to take a clean exit after the spit. Sakura Johnson records a second consecutive Semifinal result at Pipeline, further cementing her place as one of the strongest surfers on the North Shore.

“You just really have to put in time out here at Pipeline,” Sakura Johnson said. “I’m really happy we got these waves; these are the days we dream of. That wave came, and Caroline had priority, but she wasn’t really looking, and I thought it was going to hit the reef really well so I just committed, put my head down, and went for it and I made it out, so I couldn’t be more stoked.”

Girls Charging At Pipeline

The year’s Lexus Pipe Pro was a bit of a shitshow, to be honest, with world champion Filipe Toledo too scared to take off and the WSL refusing to run on the best day of the waiting period. Still, the highlight was that the girls absolutely turned the corner and proved to the world that they could absolutely charge Pipeline as well.

This season alone, Pipe has delivered six very heavy accidents, with all six surfers involved in wipeouts needing urgent medical care. So, a certain amount of bravery is always required. The girls came to the party.

All The Winners From Darkfest 2024

Stellenbosch – The incredible Darkfest 2024 MTB event at The Hellsend Dirt Compound at Vuurberg Farm near Stellenbosch saw high action throughout the week. 

From huge makes, some brutal slams and tons of good times on and off the bikes, the spirit of freeride is alive and well.

The gathered international riders had to endure some tricky wind conditions during the Darkfest 2024 practice and warm-up days, but everything came together for the riders on Saturday.

With everyone pushing it and going for records, there were some incredible performances, as well as some unhinged sends and jumps. 

The event finished with rider-voted awards for riders who pushed their personal limits for victory and glory in various categories. 

Your 2024 King and Queen of Darkfest 

King: Elias Ruso (Austria) and Queen: Vaea Verbeeck (Canada). Both were killing it all week long. 

Darkfest 2024 Best Moment 

Tom Isted’s (Great Britain)  – 110 flip on his first drop. 

Robin Goomes (New Zealand) and Harriet Burbridge Smith (Australia )  – flip train on the step-up!

Tom Isted © Eric Palmer

The Kenda Tires Europe ‘Mind Bender’

Kurtis Downs (USA)

All The Winners From Darkfest 2024

Kurtis Downs © Eric Palmer

The Spank Bikes Best Whip 

Donny Palay (Great Britain) Vinny Armstrong (New Zealand).

Paley unfortunately took a horrific slam during the event and had to undergo surgery for a broken ankle. There is a GoFundMe set up if anyone wishes to donate towards his medical bills.

The GoPro Best Run

Bienvenido Aguado (Spain) lacing huge moves from top to bottom. 

The Pinkeye Vision Biggest Burke Award 

Veronique Sandler (Great Britain)

Watch the press for the full video highlights coming soon. Stay updated on the Darkfest Instagram.