Catch the Wave: Witness South Africa’s Finest Surfers at Vic Bay Quad 2024!

Rinse off the cooler box, scratch out the camping chairs, and dust off the beach umbrellas! Get ready to witness a celebration of South African surfing talent at the annual Vic Bay Quad from the 3rd to the 5th of May 2024, at Victoria Bay in George, South Africa.


Surfing Legends Compete at the Vic Bay Quad 2024

The Quad stands as a long-standing surf contest, second only to the SA Champs in size within the country. Organized by Surfing South Africa, this yearly spectacle has evolved into one of South Africa’s premier amateur surf competitions, drawing over 100 surfers to George each year. Over the course of three days, participants hailing from the local club Eden Surfriders will vie for victory against contenders from Nelson Mandela Bay, Cape Town, Cape Winelands, and Buffalo City Surf Riders.

Local surfer Sean Holmes, representing the Eden Surfriders at the Vic Bay Quad 2023, where he won two divisions | Photo Credit Gavin Falck
Local surfer Sean Holmes, representing the Eden Surfriders at the Vic Bay Quad 2023, where he won two divisions | Photo Credit Gavin Falck

In preparation for a significant contest such as this, each district meticulously handpicks its top surfers across seven age categories through trials conducted in the months preceding the event. The cream of the crop is chosen to represent their respective districts in the following divisions: Over 60, Over 50, Over 45, Over 40, Over 30, Open Women, and Open Men.

From Groms to Legends: The Epic Journey of Vic Bay Quad Surfing Tradition!

The Vic Bay Quad originated from the visionary mind of John Pfaff, Chairperson of the original Southern Cape Surfing Association, and debuted in May 1976. Initially conceived as the Vic Bay Triangular, the competition featured teams from the Western Province, Eastern Province, and South Western District. Over time, its scope broadened to encompass additional participants, including the Border Province, the Eastern Cape, and the Defence Force Team.

Rooted deeply in the spirited surfing ethos of the 1970s, the quad epitomized the era’s embrace of a transformative shift in surf culture, marked by the emergence of competitive shortboarding in South Africa. Many of the competition’s founding surfers epitomized the local pioneers of the sport, embodying a spirit of adventure and freedom. Archie Swanson, Chairperson of the Stellenbosch Surf Club and an early advocate for the competition, reminisced, “It was an exciting time to be alive. It was the era of Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Bob Dylan. We were a vanguard of young surfers, hitchhiking to new surf spots, camping in car parks, exploring new waves, and living for a love of the ocean.” Reflecting on the inception of the event, Swanson recalled Pfaff’s immediate support for the idea of a surfing competition. The inaugural event, held amidst thunderous 10-foot waves at Vic Bay, witnessed the late Kenny Liston clinching victory with a daring ride that nearly propelled him into the rocks on the bay’s far side. Swanson noted, “I think this was the first surf comp ever held at Victoria Bay.”

2 Local competitor Sean Holmes grew up surfing at Victoria Bay | Photo Credit Gavin Falck

Archie chuckles fondly at the Quad’s modest origins, reminiscing about the days when wetsuit technology lagged far behind its current state. Surfers often braved the waves in little more than baggies or primitive dive suits, relying on beachside fires to stave off the chill. Waxing boards with candles and fashioning makeshift leashes from nylon clothesline were par for the course. Reflecting on the transformation since those early days, Archie marvels at how far surfing equipment and culture have progressed.

The Vic Bay Quad earned a distinguished reputation among surfers for its blend of enjoyment, competitiveness, camaraderie, and profound reverence for the sea. This enduring spirit continues to thrive over five decades later.

David Pfaff, son of the late John Pfaff, fondly recalls his father’s deep passion for surfing. Although John hung up his competitive board at a young age, his love for the ocean never waned. He remained an integral part of Eden surfing for years, fostering a supportive environment for budding surfers.

“Dad was larger than life, and his love for surfing was contagious,” David reflects. “The lifestyle he cultivated around the sport provided an amazing upbringing for me. Whenever a berg wind blew, Dad would whisk me away from school straight to the beach. Even now, when I feel that wind, I feel his presence, and I rush to the ocean.”

“For Dad, surfing wasn’t just a sport; it was a way of life. He’d be thrilled to see people still flocking to Vic Bay for the Quadrangular.”

The stage set at Victoria Bay has long been revered for its consistent, challenging waves, shaping the skills of many surfers who have risen to prominence in South African surfing. The Vic Bay Quad served as a proving ground for local talents, including Springbok surfers such as Leonard Giles, Warren Cushner, Andrew Preen, Robert Pollock, Shaun Joubert, Llewellyn Whitacker, Sean Holmes, David Pfaff, and Olympic Silver Medalist Bianca Buitendag.

This year’s Quad will adhere to its traditional knockout format, with surfers competing in 20-minute heats featuring four to five participants each. Judges stationed on the Bramwell Butler pier will assess each ride on a scale of 1 to 10, evaluating finesse, variety, control, and style. Surfers will be scored based on their best two waves.

Neil Schalkwyk, Chairperson of the Eden Surfriders, expresses gratitude to the George Municipality for their collaboration in making the Vic Bay Quad possible. With Eden aiming to defend their three-year grip on the trophy, anticipation brews for both fresh talent from the new generation and seasoned expertise from veteran surfers.

The Vic Bay Quad is scheduled to take place from 07:30 to 19:00, spanning from Friday, May 3rd, to Sunday, May 5th, at Victoria Bay beach in George, South Africa.

Learn more about Victoria Bay beach or head over to the Vic Bay Quad event listing.