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Shorty Bronkhorst (1936-2009)

Legendary South African surfer Shorty Bronkhorst recently passed on.


( Shorty Bronkhorst, [left] and a friend surfing plywood boards in Durban in the 1950s - photo courtesy of Weekend Post )


[ From: "Death of SA surfing pioneer Shorty Bronkhorst in J-Bay," by Robbie Hift and Clayton Truscott, HERALD, November 30, 2009 ]


THE South African surfing community is shocked and saddened by the death of legendary surfing enthusiast Shorty Bronkhorst, 73, in Jeffreys Bay...

Bronkhorst was a pioneer who first surfed Jeffreys Bay in the early 1960s. He started surfing in the summer of 1949 in Durban and was still doing it more than 50 years later at Super Tubes and Surfers Point...

He started out as a professional lifesaver in Durban where he surfed on 5m boards made out of plywood at South Beach, North Beach and the Bay of Plenty.

When Bronkhorst turned 19 in 1956, he and a friend hitchhiked across Africa via Johannesburg, the former Lourenco Marques and Rhodesia, on to Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, eventually arriving in London.

In 1957 he went to Jersey and began building the first surfboards there and was invited to do surf promotions for a travel company. The big tour buses full of spectators arrived to watch Bronkhorst and his friends from the long breakwater.

They were called “the Hawaiian surfboard riders from South Africa”.

Bronkhorst once said: “We first surfed Jeffreys Bay in the early sixties. It was a bit of a secret spot then. I fell in love with the place as soon as I arrived. We used to ride Supertubes on a primo day with just three guys in the water and 3m waves pealing from Boneyards down to the Point.”

He offered this advice for fellow surfers: “Surfing has always been a noble sport. We should try to keep it that way. Tell the youngsters to be polite in the water. Show some respect towards others and you will be appreciated much more than if you just drop in on everybody else.

“It’s unnecessary to sneak around the waiting surfers and catch a sly wave. Rather just get in line and wait your turn. The guys will think more of you if you do so.”

Eastern Province Surfing president Etienne Venter said he was deeply saddened by the news and had nothing but praise for Bronkhorst...

“He’s one of the biggest legends of South African surfing [said Eastern Province Surfing president Etienne Venter]. He always greeted you and was really friendly. It’s such a terrible loss for us, he was really loved by everyone.”

Democratic Alliance MP Tim Harris... said: “The African Surfer crew sends condolences to the family and friends of Shorty Bronkhorst – one of the original surfing pioneers on the continent. We never knew Shorty, but he and his crew were among the first explorers of surfing in the rest of Africa.

“We are grateful for the path they blazed in promoting surfing in South Africa and on the rest of the continent. May you rest in peace Shorty.”

There [was]... a paddle-out at Surfers Point... November 28, at 10am. Bronkhorst’s ashes [were]... scattered in the sea off the beach where he did most of his surfing.

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