‘Surfshackers’ rally to rescue paddler

Theo Vanshroon of Surfshack drags his own board as he collects the SUP board.

Two members of the Surfshack’s surfer’s outreach programme swam to the rescue of a stand up paddler (SUP) on Saturday afternoon, August 20.

Paul Chudleigh and Theo Vanshroon had just finished a training session when they noticed a paddle board drifting loose in the ocean at Surfer’s Corner.

They first dashed to the Surfshack and alerted staff that they were going in, then ran along the coastal walkway to the closest point to the paddler.

The man, adrift with just his paddle, was spotted by worried spectators.

Paul swam out to him to offer assistance and assurance, while Theo used his body board to swim to, and collect the SUP board, then return it to its grateful owner.

The youngsters stayed with the man, who had started his journey on his SUP board at St James. The ocean was challenging and the youngsters were on hand to return his paddle to him twice – just after retrieving it the first time a wave knocked him clear off it a second time.

Paul is a junior surfing champion, and has been surfing since he was six.

When he was nine he was adopted by David Chudleigh, and the youngster’s talent has since been honed. On the table at the Surfshack is a clutch of awards and medals in his name. One is the coveted surfer’s choice award for most outstanding junior surfer. Paul beams, clearly proud, but doesn’t want to make a fuss.

He is also, at 17, being shown the ropes of the business. “My dad says this way I will be ready for the reality and responsibilities of the working world,” he says.

Paul lives in Kommetjie and is home schooled. He loves learning this way. “I have a really good balance in my life,” he says, looking very happy.

He also has the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and both the confidence and skills, to help. The stand up paddler’s name is not known, but Paul says he thanked them both, and was very grateful for their help.

The youngsters stayed with the paddler until he hit firm ground and they were sure he was okay.

“He was really nice and I’m just glad we were able to help him, and return his board to him,” Paul said.

He said the conditions at Surfer’s Corner were quite changeable and that SUPpers can easily be blown far out.

“I also want to say it wasn’t just Theo and I, we had two other members out there on boards on hand to help. Tassel Louw and Lele Zozi, who are also members of the Surfshack surf school programme also paddled out to help, and were available if needed,” Paul said. “It was a team effort.”