Dylan van Tonder: King of the Wedge

This year’s Wedge Classic started off on a sad note. One of our top Pro & DK riders, Wes Potts had an unfortunate accident and broke his neck.

Wes had paddled out for free surf to join friends before the start of the heats for the day when the unthinkable happened. On his first wave, Wes air dropped on a meaty first peak wedge, going head first onto his board then getting hammered onto the shallow sand bank.

He went to shore still able to move but not knowing what severe damage had actually happened. I’m sure it was the adrenalin that got him up to the tent where after that he sat down, started feeling fuzzy and the pain setting in.

Riders and friends came to his aid, not knowing the severity of the situation but being as helpful in every way. Deon Meyer had placed a board behind Wes’ back to keep him straight, Jammie “Budgie” Higgins was applying first aid and calming him down while Lyndall Jucker had arranged NSRI to come down to take Wes to the nearest hospital. In no time they were there, had Wes on the stretcher, into the bakkie and off to hospital.

Later x-rays and a MRI showed he had broken his C6 in 2places meaning his neck was broken.
The doctors said if it wasn’t for those people that helped in time and did what they did, Wes would’ve been paralysed for life and SA bodyboarding would’ve lost a great character and competitor.

A big thanks must go out to all involved and it’s good to see bodyboarders sticking together in times like that. A lesson to everyone to, that one should never surf alone and if you find yourself bumping your head or back on either the sand, rocks or reef, even if you feel okay rather go get it checked out just incase.

Onto a lighter note and probably one of the best Wedge contests I’ve been seen in a while. The contest was sponsored by Rockstar energy drinks, Black Flys sunglasses, Rossi bodyboards, Derevko wetsuits, Power Balance, Showme and Bitou Tourism.

The waves were epic, the riding outstanding and the event well organized. The organizers opted to run it a bit differently this year, doing man on man heats for the Pro’s and Junior’s from quarter finals onwards. And boy, did this make it exciting. We also had ST on the mike, giving us running commentary as each rider tried to out do the last. We also had 5 time world jetski champion, Brett Armstrong doing some crazy things on his ski and keeping the crowd entertained. Super Sport was also there filming the event which should be on TV soon.

The riding in this comp was the some of the best I’ve seen. In the boys division final, we saw local boy Niklas Martin on top form against Tristen Roberts, Wilder Schultz and Ethan Koopmans. It was Nik’s local knowledge that paid off and gave him top honors with Tristan in second, Wilder third and Ethan in fourth.

Next up was the Junior division and the level of riding in this division was impressive as usual. In the early rounds Storm Prestwich, the Waite’s brothers and local boy Niklas Martin who is surfing in Junior’s as well, were real standouts and looked like they were the guys fighting for that number one spot.

The first man on man semi saw Storm up against Adam. Storm was in a league of his own busting sick inverts and flips to win the heat convincingly. The second semi saw Adam’s younger bro Robbie go up against Nik. It was a hard fought semi but local knowledge paid off yet again for Nik.

Nik and Storm took to the water where they battled it out in the epic conditions. It looked as if Storm was playing it safe throughout most of the final, getting long barrels to rolls. Nik would fight back and do the same. It was only towards the end when Storm took off on a sick wedge , bottom turned hard and cranked a sick invert and taking the number one spot. Big ups to Nik to as came second in a division he’ll only be going into next year.

The ladies division was not big at all but what they lacked in numbers, the two that entered made up for in commitment. We saw two ladies, Lyndall Jucker and Nikki Gericke go head to head in a straight final. Both are locals and used their knowledge to the best of their advantage. In the end it was experience over youth that paid off for Lyndall and she took top honors. Well done girls, let see more entering next year.

The Men’s division was also a tough affair from word go. Every heat had top names dropping and there were only four left to battle it out namely JP Nortier, Eugene Meyer, an on-form Josh Kleve and myself. Josh caught good waves from the second the siren went and left every one playing catch up. JP came close but settled for second in the end with Eugene and myself in third and fourth respectively.

Next up was DK and always an exciting division to watch. The four finalists Apex, Darren Halse, Dylan van Tonder aka DVT and Ian Kruger took to the water. These four were on top form and one couldn’t have asked for a better final.

DVT got one or two back hand barrels to big snaps as well as a sick long right hand barrel, Kruger had some sick long barrels but got punished on as the waves wouldn’t stay open for him. The two who opted to sit at first peak, Spex and Halse got bomb after bomb. Halse took off, got a sick tube to floater on exit.

Then Spex went, Long barrel to snap. In the end, sitting on the beach one didn’t know who had won? At the prize giving Spex was deemed the winner, with Halse second, DVT in third and Kruger fourth.

The last and most anticipated final was the man on man dual between an on form DVT and Mark “Boetie” McCarthy. These two had fought hard from round one making it all the way to the final. Let me go back a bit and rewind to the quarters where the man on man started.

First was Spex vs Kruger, a hard heat but Spex came out on top. Second was Boetie vs Justin Lindsay, it was close but Boetie got a second scoring ride and piping one of the favorites, Justin. The third quarter saw young guns Storm Prestwich against Aden Kleve.

It was also a hard fought heat but Storm was too good on the day. The last heat saw the fairly unknown rider from PE, DVT go up against ever so dangerous Jonny Maritz. Jonny had a massive invert and looked to have taken it but DVT got a sick air revo and flip that sealed the deal.

Now into the semis and first up was Boetie vs Spex. This was a final by itself! Mark got a sick backflip landing clean. Then it was Spex’s turn, long barrel at second peak to big roll out. Spex fired again with a flip on the right. But Boetie came back with a massive backflip at first peak and later winning the move of the contest for that flip. Boetie was the first to advance and looked like the favorite now to win.

The second semi saw DVT against Storm. Both fought hard, exchanging wave and move after the next. It was DVT that eventually got first place that would take him into his first SABA final and boy what a final to be in.

DVT started off with a smooth, stylish banking revo. He got a second waves shortly after that, small barrel to clean roll. Boetie came back with a long deep barrel to big roll. That was definitely wave of the heat until DVT came back guns blazing!

He took off on a first peak set, turned hard off the bottom and banged a huge air revo but not landing it. He paddled back out there and waited till he had priority again. Boetie got a sick peak, went for a big flip but not landing it.

Another set came, DVT took off, this time getting it right and landing a big stylish air revo. It sent the crowd screaming! When the final buzzer went, we all knew who had just won. Later that night a new King was crowned, DVT.

Johan De Goede has taken out the 2018 Digicape Tand Invitational. The legendary event got underway in pumping eight-to-ten-foot waves in Cape Town, South Africa.

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