Thys spreads the stoke

2015-10-22 06:00
TOP: Thys Strydom.

TOP: Thys Strydom. Photo: WERNER HILLS

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THYS Strydom is known for two things.

First, he is among the surfing elite - a celebrity of a wave-riding culture that captivates the world, and one of the best surfboard shapers in the world. In his career, Thys shaped more than 8 000 surfboards over the past 15 years. He earned his reputation and honed his shaping skills shaping for international labels like Town andamp; Country, Brewer, Vudu and Blue Hawaii. All surfboards are hand-shaped by him and glassed and finished at his The Rebel Surfboard Factory in Jeffreys Bay.

Second, as experienced and well-known as he is, Thys remained stoked about the simple joy of surfing. Stoked might be an understatement. He remained kid-on-his-first-wave level stoked.

For the past 15 years he has been using these two things - his experience as a pro surfer and shaper and his passion - to help young underprivileged children in Jeffreys Bay to discover and experience the thrill-seeking joy of surfing.

“I have an opportunity to make an impact . . . that inspires me,” says Thys who knows first-hand what it is like to grow up poor. “There are a lot of children who can use the ocean as a positive enforcement in their lifestyle and their journey. It is all about acting local in your community and ultimately, giving people the opportunity to feel stoked.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to excel in life. If I am able to help give them that opportunity, I will do it without thinking twice. There is no greater pleasure than to see them develop and move forward in life.”

According to him, he only has two rules - and these rules are not negotiable. “They must go to school and they must pass.”

Thys, who trained successful surfers Angelo and José Faulkner, currently has six young surfers ranging between the ages of 8 and 13 under his wing. The enthusiastic surfers are Dillon (13) and Zia (8) Hendricks, Ernie (11) and Iwaan (8) Prinsloo, Lorenzo Perels (10) and Luciano Potgieter (10) whose mother, Ina, is a Springbok surfer.

Apart from Dillon, not one of them was able to swim when they first started surfing. Little deterred by this fact, they quickly mastered the art of swimming in Thys’ swimming pool on Sundays after church.

Zia, who started at the age of seven, is currently the reigning u.9 SA Champion. Her brother, Dillon, was crowned the Surfer of the Contest at the recent SA Surfing Championships in Jeffreys Bay, where he claimed fourth place.

“Zia has the potential to go all the way to the top,” says Thys.

All six of them are in agreement that local surfer José Faulkner is their role model, who also started his surfing career with Thys and hails from Pellsrus - just like they do.

“They are just so positive,” says Thys. They love to surf and they love to compete. They are smart kids.”

The biggest lesson they have learned at this young age: Even if you lose, you have still won if you are having fun. “It is about . . . passion. That is where we feel connected to surfing. Just go surf and have fun,” says Dillon.

. Their main sponsors are the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, Billabong, Von Zipper, Dakine, Core Surfers and Koffie Jacobs

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