Kalk Bay surfer rides waves to success

Ilyaas Samaai helped his Western Province team claim their first bodyboarding championship in almost 30 years.

A Kalk Bay Crewzers boy, Ilyaas Samaai, has blown all expectations out of the water, placing first in both his heats in the South African Bodyboarding Championships and adding valuable points to the Western Province team’s first overall win since 1991.

Zac Verlaque, co-founder and spokesperson of Kalk Bay Crewzers, a development/mentoring organisation, which was established in 2013 to teach the boys and girls of Kalk Bay how to bodyboard, said he had shed tears of joy when he watched his young protégé get up to receive his awards.

The championships were hosted by Western Province Bodyboarding, and heats were held at Melkbosstrand, Strand, Table View and Big Bay earlier this month.

Although he wasn’t able to be at prize-giving in Century City, in person , Mr Verlaque watched the awards on a live Instagram feed.

“Since Ilyaas’s victory, the rest of the Kalk Bay Crewzers team have been talking excitedly about how they want to try out for Western Province next year and how they hope to represent South Africa in Durban next year at the championships in Durban,” Mr Verlaque said.

His brothers, Alex and Sebastian, are also co-founders of The Kalk Bay Crewzers and also teach the boys the ways of the sea.

Ilyaas turned 12 on Wednesday October 25. His interest in bodyboarding had started when he was 6, said his mom, Nadia Samaai.

“He came running in telling me he wanted to bodyboard in the ocean. I looked at him and thought, you know you are coloured, right?” she laughed.

Ilyaas’s ability and agility grew to match his enthusiasm, so that last year, he was selected as a member of the Western Province team.

“He proved me wrong: he excelled, he grew, he took on competitions, he participated; all this made me open my eyes to how much this means to him,” his mom said.

She said when the Western Province team told her they wanted Ilyaas as part of the team she had worried about the financial implications.

“They told me he is driven and they see potential in him.”

And so began trips to Melkbosstrand, or Sea Point, every Sunday morning for him to practise.

Ms Samaai became emotional, saying that when the time for the SA champs arrived, Ilyaas was fully sponsored.

“They gave him the experience of his life – I was really grateful for that, and I am so proud of him. He really gave his best,” she said.

“He proved to everyone that no matter where you are from, no matter who you are, if you want something, you can go get it. And he proved to the Western Province team that their sponsorship of him, was worth it.”

Ilyaas took first place in both his divisions.

He took part in the under-14 development division, and he earned a point score of 300/300 in each heat.

Kalk Bay Crewzers is for all the children of the Kalk Bay fishermen’s flats.