Pili Pili Festival

This afternoon I witnessed extreme intensity at Pili Pili Extreme Sports Center at the Breede River Lodge Festival’s Stand Up Paddle race in Witsand, South Africa.  Over twenty South African stand up paddle boarders, a.k.a “SUPers” demonstrated their true dedication to the sport as they paddled seven kilometers through crashing waves, howling wind, and sporadic but pelting rain.  The competition, organised by Pili Pili Extreme Sport Centers and hosted by the Breede River Lodge, kicked off at noon and featured diverse contestants from all over the country, from the big city of Cape Town to the little hamlet of Witsand.

Pili Pili’s 2013 SUP winner, eighteen-year-old Dylan Frick, was awesome to watch.  Dylan began with a strong lead, which he maintained throughout the competition.  Despite making the race look like an easy one, Dylan admitted it was actually “super hard and crazy” because he “had to paddle up-wind but also sideways the whole way.”   A new additional challenge was the run across 500 meters of sand after the difficult crossing of the mouth of the Breede River, where the waves were tall and the wind was strong.

I felt that the highlight of the race was watching the only female competitor, sixteen-year-old Mishka Steyn, crush the competition. Mishka found the race to be an exciting one. At one point near the river mouth Mischa thought she saw a shark!  Mishka encourages other women to get out there and try SUPing.  With a huge grin on her face she said, “It’s fun and you get to beat the boys.”  For her, however, the best part about SUPing is being out there in nature and on the water where there are no cars and no noise.

After every competitor finished, they cheered on each of the remaining paddlers.  I found the camaraderie between the contenders to be inspiring.  At the prize giving, Dylan was presented with a R10,000 cheque and other exciting prizes were given to the first girl, hardest worker, and raffle winners.  I am already looking forward to next year’s competition; although for the 2014 Pili Pili SUP race I will be a participant rather than a spectator!

Contact Neels Swanepoel at 072 2872475 or email info@pilipili.co.za for details on next year’s competition!