Taking a petrolhead and putting him on Durban’s North Pier to watch surfing is putting him about as far outside of his comfort zone as it gets.
However, there I was at the weekend, watching intently as the contestants in the Volkswagen sponsored SA Open Nationals strutted their stuff – and thoroughly enjoying the spectacle.
Having spent more than 40 years wandering the country covering motor races, rallies and off-road races, I am somewhat familiar with passion, commitment and dedication – all the elements required to be successful in motor sport.
Equally, watching the expressions on the faces of the surfers it was not hard to see the same levels of passion, commitment and dedication as they worked their magic out on the water. It is a tough sport and these surfers are all athletes, body and mind tuned to be able pursue the perfect score.
It was a full weekend of surfing and a full – and probably very profitable – weekend for Durban with the baby Boks taking on (and beating) the French Barbarians at rugby on the Friday, the Springboks thrashing the French on the Saturday and an Iron Man marathon sharing the beachfront with the surfing on the Sunday.
In that latter event, both the cycle and run phases took competitors past the surfing on a couple of occasions and, from my vantage point on the pier, I watched the runners/cyclists – and not one of them ever glanced seaward at the surfing.
It was not as if they could not be aware something significant was happening out on the water – the surfing public address system was blaring out score updates and commentary all the time. It was simply they were not remotely interested.
Then, I started looking more closely and began to spot the rugby fans at restaurant tables at the many beachfront eateries – also not remotely interested in the surfing or the runners/cyclists and just sitting in their supporter jerseys rehashing the game over coffee, beers or whatever.
In one small orbit, three worlds that simply did not collide.
Perhaps a sad commentary on the world today!