Surfers’ send-off

2017-08-15 06:03
Austin Wesson and Rebekah Bouma on their wedding day.

Austin Wesson and Rebekah Bouma on their wedding day.

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A group of Muizenberg surfers have said a final farewell to a friend.

Austin Wesson, a Fish Hoek local, died in a car crash in the United States just a day after getting married. Austin (19) married Rebekah Bouma (19) on Friday 4 ­August.

The accident took place around 18:30 on Saturday 5 August near a town called Clearwater in Kansas, when Austin reportedly lost control of his bakkie.

Austin was killed during the impact, while his wife died at a nearby hospital on Monday 7 August.

On Wednesday, almost 70 surfers took to the waves in memory of Austin who “loved the ocean”, says his mother Wendy Wesson. He used to work at a local surf shop.

The couple was planning to return to South Africa in September to have a local wedding, she says.

Austin fell in love with Rebekah while doing missionary work through his Global Challenge Expeditions in Jeffreys Bay.

He joined the missionary programme straight after school, after a family friend asked what he had planned following school.

“He was drawn to Global Challenge and applied by himself, telling us afterwards that he had applied. I prayed hard that he’d be accepted because he was quite naughty,” recalls Wendy.

“He was accepted and loved every minute of it. He left us a naughty boy and came back a mighty man of God.”

Austin and Rebekah met while in Jeffreys Bay, while she was completing her own missionary work.

“Austin was in charge of their group. He was so overwhelmed by how beautiful she was. He tried to focus on his work seeing as he wasn’t there to look at girls, but they kept being drawn to each other,” says Wendy.

“He just knew she was the girl for him.”

The couple had moved to Clearwater in June, where they were working at a summer camp.

Organiser of the paddle out, Austin’s friend Marck Koch, says Austin had recently spent time teaching surfing lessons to raise funds to join Rebekah in the United States.

“In the surfing culture, when some passes away you pay your respect through a paddle out,” explains Marck.

The two had been friends since they were in Grade 2 and had attended Fish Hoek primary and high schools together.

“I was the more naughty of the two of us and Austin always kept me in line,” recalls Marck.

“He had a bubbly personality and always lit up the room.”

Many of Marck’s fondest memories are time spent in the surf with Austin.

“I remember the first time Austin surfed at Muizenberg, we’d just made it out to the backline. After all that paddling, Austin looked at me and said: ‘Dude, I made it!’,” Marck says.

“Right then, this massive wave came and took him all the way back in. He just called out to me: ‘I’ll make it again tomorrow’.”

Following the accident, Wendy has been amazed by the impact Austin had on others.

“He had such a big heart. He made such a big impact on so many people’s lives. People we’ve never met have been calling us, saying he changed their lives.”


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