Scottburgh’s Prestwich a surfing prodigy

2011-08-31 00:00

GIFTED, dedicated and humble, teenage sensation Slade Prestwich (16) of Scottburgh has all the qualities it takes to become the next big thing in South African surfing.

Known for his flair and trademark snaps and reverses, the prodigiously talented youngster holds the titles in his age group for the Mr Price SA Open Pro Junior, Billabong Pro Junior and Quiksilver King of the Groms. He placed third in the International Quiksilver King of the Groms final in France last October.

South Coast and SA surfing legend Heather Clark believes Prestwich has the potential to qualify for and even excel in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour, which is contested by the top 34 surfers in the world. She says he could lead South African surfing into the next generation in the mould of current South African kingpin Jordy Smith.

“He rips,” said Clark. “He’s one of the top junior surfers in the country. I’m not sure if he is doing world surfing qualifying events at this stage, but if he is I have no doubt he will make the tour and go very far. As long as he puts his mind to it and is hungry for it he can be the next Jordy Smith,” said Clark.

Prestwich, who takes his early success in his stride, started surfing at the age of 10 and says he “immediately fell in love with it”.

His introduction to competitive surfing was a memorable occasion — for all the wrong reasons.

“I started surfing competitively after about two years. My first event was the Billabong Junior … I remember coming last. I was so nervous,” he laughs. This is a far cry from the composed, confident competitor he has evolved into six years later.

Having surfed some of the best breaks in the world, he still considers Scottburgh and New Pier his favourite spots.

Prestwich applies the same maturity to his studies. He home-schools due to his demanding tour schedule. He cited winning the Oakley ASP World Junior in Bali in October and obtaining his matric certificate as his top priorities.

“I’m currently in grade 10. I don’t get a lot of study time, but I try to catch up whenever I can because getting an education is very important to me.

“You never know what can happen so it’s important to have something to fall back on,” said Prestwich.

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