Local surf coach makes waves

2016-06-28 06:00
 Muizenberg surf coach Alfonso Peters took top spot in the Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic Men’s Longboarding Final.  PHOTO: Graeme Field/ Liquid images

Muizenberg surf coach Alfonso Peters took top spot in the Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic Men’s Longboarding Final. PHOTO: Graeme Field/ Liquid images

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It took just one wave for a young Alfonso Peters to fall in love with surfing.

But he had no idea he would one day take top place at an international surfing competition.

Peters recently won the Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic Men’s Longboarding Final held on his home turf in Muizenberg. The win saw him beating renowned world champion surfer Matthew Moir who won the title last year.

“It’s my biggest win ever. Everything just went right and it’s my home – I know these waves. After the first wave I got a high score and that’s when I realised I could actually win,” the 27-year-old says.

It’s been a long journey for the young surfer to reach this level.

A troubled childhood saw him run away from his Manenberg home when he was just seven years old, often spending time living on the streets and strolling around Cape Town CBD.

“I was lost. There was no happiness where I lived; no hope,” he says.

Peters bounced between shelters and reformatories before the system eventually caught up with him after he broke into a car. “Fortunately for me, they didn’t have space in prison and I was allowed to go free as long as I appeared in court,” he says.

“One night I prayed to God to sort out my life and a few days later a friend invited me to spend the weekend at a church camp.”

Peters was then given the opportunity to live with his friend as long as he attended school.

But with his past, the only institution that would accept him was School of Hope in Athlone. The school provides at-risk and vulnerable youth a second chance at education. Peters’ case was eventually thrown out of court.

“But I didn’t go back to the street,” he says.

Instead, the school introduced him to surfing.

“I got into it by chance. At first I wasn’t interested but I thought I would give it a chance. By the first wave I was hooked,” he says.

The classes were offered through Surf Shack, which supplied the surfboards, but Peters often surfed without a wetsuit because he didn’t have one.

Surfing gave Peters the motivation he had been craving for most of his life.

“I didn’t have a passion before. I wasn’t focussed and I didn’t have goals,” he says.

“I used to bunk school for surfing until my parents grounded me from surfing unless I did well at school. That forced me to keep my grades up,” he says.

“I was introduced to serious surfers and they encouraged me to enter competitions,” he adds.

This led to him winning provincial championships before his big win at the Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic.

His talent was soon noticed and Peters was hired as a surf coach, which he still does today. “It’s the absolute best job in the world. It brings you close to people and humbles you. Even on cold days, you have to be out there in your wetsuit, encouraging people,” he says.

Peters dreams of one day owning a surf school. But before then, he has his sights set on competing internationally.

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