Surfing Ain't The Half Of It - Stab Mag
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Mini waves, mega fun. Photo: Thomas Lodin

Surfing Ain’t The Half Of It

Vans Duct Tape Invitational smashes through South Africa, leaves no stone unturned.

features // Jul 4, 2022
Words by Kerrie Donnelly
Reading Time: 6 minutes

A glorious celebration took place at The ‘Berg in Cape Town this weekend, as Vans, invited surfers, and Joel Tudor put on a show. 

Without wishing to detract from the talented and skilled girls and boys competing in this contest, the surfing had equal footing amongst many different celebrations and activations, as Vans celebrated surf and street culture down at the hub of surfing in the fairest Cape. 

It was the first time the Duct Tape Invitational had ever rolled into town, and Vans South Africa (and Muizenberg) were determined to capitalize on the situation. It had been a long time between drinks, and this tournament was part of the busiest contest season that South Africa had seen in many years. 

South Africa is a land of wildly untapped surf potential. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Final Day Pumps

Pumping waves greeted the surfers on the final day of competition, after the Fairest Cape morphed into the Cape Of Storms the day prior, causing the tournament to be postponed.

For many, this cancellation was a time of relief and regrouping, as the many side attractions had proved themselves to be quite energy-consuming. The DTI concept allows for such activities, with Joel Tudor welcoming the fun and festivities surrounding these events. At the heart of it all, a universal sense of fun is what these events are all about. 

Come for the surf comp, forget all about it by night 1. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Look Back

In South Africa, surfers got smashed during Covid. As in much of the surfing world, they were declared outlaws, picked up by cops regularly and had their sport stifled. 

Whether longboarding, shortboarding, professional or amateur, on a kneeboard or a SUP, surfing came to a grinding halt. All forms of competition and events were stopped. When the regulations were lifted worldwide, bit by agonizing bit, the surf industry in South Africa took a while to proceed.

However, Vans had already decided that they were going ahead with the DTI. So, taking a chance, it was the biggest surf contest that Cape Town had seen in a few decades. There were prizes, giveaways, an event-side market, and enough well-known surfers and spectators pulling in at Muizenberg that the contest had no choice but to be a success.  

Glad to be back. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Functions

Before the contest, however, the riders and the crew had some fun — as you do at DTI events. A raucous opening function at the Jack Black brewery went down the road to another undisclosed venue. There was dancing, drinking, and loud music; at one stage, there might or might not have been an impressive conga line of longtime friends and new companions letting off some steam. 

After the first day of competition, a Skate Jam at a local indoor skatepark went on until the witching hour. There were some impressive runs, a few minor slams, and a couple of alcohol-based pain-killing libations administered down people’s throats. “To help against bruising,” was used to justify the hearty quaffing.  

How many beers does it take to forget about a broken toe? Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Surfing

Was there surfing going on? Oh yes, some world-class logging was going down at one of the best longboard venues worldwide. Muizenberg was where it all started in South Africa, with long, peeling, and very user-friendly waves combined with moderately warm water. Muizenberg sits on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town, which can get 10 degrees warmer than the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the Peninsula.

Steve Sawyer, the 2018 Longboarding World Champion, was there, representing South Africa and JBay, and he was intrinsic to the event. Justin Quintal was also in the hood, having a go at his 11th-odd Duct tape Invitational. The popular and super-friendly Johnny The Ripper* was also there, and he was ripping, living up to his name (real name John Van Hohenstein).

Over in the ladies’ division, some fierce competition was going down. St. Francis Bay gal Crystal Hulett was in the thick of things, but the Hawaiian girls were coming on strong, and a lone French lady was in the battle with them — ooh la la!

And not a single interference was called that day. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Festival

There used to be much effort put into surf events. Back in the day, when surf was experiencing golden times, the comps would be beach-based festivals and celebrations hosted and supported by the headline sponsor. The Vans Duct Tape events are doing something similar in the modern age, embracing the culture with their surfers and activities. There was music and skate and parties. There was a surf market at the contest. There was eating and drinking and good times. There was a fantastic wine tasting evening on the day the weather washed out all hope of surfing heats. 

It was like the DTI was a movable celebration, with a group of very sophisticated people as well as rag-tag trippers all moving from one festive happening to the next, with surfing a centerpiece for it all.

The Duct Tape Invitational: propelling old-school surfing into the future. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Finals Time

Still, the performances were pretty insane. In the girls’ event, it was the lone French lady who outsurfed and outpointed the Hawaiian triumvirate for victory. Ambre Victorie took the win from Honolua Blomfield, with Kellis Kaleopa’a and Sierra Lerback in the minor positions. 

For the men’s final, it was anyone’s game. Did Johnny The Ripper’s endless wall at the buzzer have enough in it for the win? Was Justin Quintal going to make it 11 straight victories? Instead, the Man with the Magnificent Moustache, Kevin Skvarna, took out his first-ever DTI win from Justin, with local legend Steezy Sawyer in third and Johnny in fourth. 

“It feels really good”, said Kevin of his first DTI win after competing in four previous events. “It felt like I was meant to come here and hang with Stevie and Sam and the boys and hang out, and it was a perfect excuse to come here. South Africa and Cape Town have been amazing experiences, and this place is very special. I’d love to come back.”  

At DTI, Everyone’s a winner. But Kevin Skvarna is actually the winner. Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Party Time

Steph Gilmore was in attendance for the prizegiving, and once the celebrations were over, it was time to move on to the next festival. While the drinks started flowing, local singer/guitarist Elle.E began to thrash on the Vans Stage with her band, and the festivities continued. 

As described in the past by NME Magazine as a ‘one woman guitar menace from Cape Town,’ the Muizenberg audience loved her hard grunge sounds and the Vans party, the biggest party Muizenberg had seen in decades, was back on.

Wait, people get paid to have this much fun? Photo: Thomas Lodin.

Final Results Duct Tape Invitational Muizenberg Cape Town

Women

1.  Ambre Victorie
2.  Honolulu Blomfield
3.  Kellis Kaleopa’a
4.  Sierra Lerback 

Men

1. Kevin Skvarna
2. Justin Quintal
3. Stevie Sawyer
4. Johnny ‘The Ripper’ van Hohenstein

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