Surfboard sold for a record R17,000 in South Africa

Despite tough economic times, a local surfer has taken a plunge of a financial kind by purchasing a surfboard for R17,000. This was no ordinary board, however, it was a two-meter "wavescape" meticulously decorated by underground comic artist Andy Mason.

Mason, a surfer himself, was participating in a surfboard auction where comedian and part-time auctioneer Mark Sampson raised a record amount of R125,000, the proceeds of which go to the NSRI and Shark Spotters in the third edition of the Wavescapes Surfboard Art Exhibition and charity auction.

The event, a subsidiary fund-raising initiative to the main Wavescapes Surf Film Festival, is the brainchild of Spike as a way of generating much-needed funds for the NSRI and shark spotters, who have received more than R120,000 from sales of the boards over the years.

The auction also serves as a platform to make a collective artistic statement, and for the artists to gain recognition.

The result is a great publicity vehicle for the main film festival, and a way of assisting the Save our Seas Foundation in getting its message across to millions of media consumers.

A stunned Mason said he was "rendered speechless" by the amount of money paid by avid surfboard art collector Glen Thompson, who is a historian and bought the last two ND Mazin boards in 2005 and 2006.

The amount Thompson bid for the 7' 2" egg, which is based on a Donald Takayama design and shaped by Greg Stokes, is believed to be the highest ever paid in South Africa for a surfboard decorated by an artist.

The event, held at the VEO Gallery in de Waterkant, also served as the launch of the Wavescapes Surf Film festival, which kicks off this evening at Clifton Fourth Beach at 9 pm. The entrance is free.

A fresh southeaster is not expected to reach into the calm waters of Clifton Beach, where shark conservationists, led by the head of the Save our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay, Lesley Rochat, will be handing out a shark documentary DVD and free key rings with emergency numbers for recreational ocean users "just in case".

The project is a collaboration with the City of Cape Town to raise awareness about sharks and arm beachgoers and surfers with information that assists them.

Of the R125,000 raised at the event, R18,500 came from five signed photographs of sharks by top marine photographer Tom Peschak. A famous image of a great white following a man in a kayak sold for R5,000.

The film festival continues on Sunday with films at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay followed by films at the Labia Cinema, Orange Street, for four days from next Wednesday 11 December.

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