Surfing Ambassador for India "Jonty Rhodes"
For our inaugural interview, we hooked up with Jonty Rhodes, the man who already knows how to pull off an aerial. You will remember his crazy parallel dive to run out Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan in South Africa's fifth game of the 1992 Cricket World Cup on 8 March at the Brisbane Cricket Ground. See the video below to relive the moment. While his famous aerial antics were on the cricket field and not in the waves, these days Jonty Rhodes is a stoked surfer and a Surfing Ambassador for India.
WS: When did you start surfing?
JR: I only started surfing once I had retired from international cricket, and had just started working for Standard Bank, which was in February 2004.
How did you get into it?
I must confess that I am active, but lazy, so wanted to stay in some kind of shape (not the round kind of shape) post-retirement without having to run on the road or force myself into the gym, and while watching a televised ASP event, I thought that the surfing blokes looked pretty strong without being buff, so thought I would give surfing a go to keep in shape! Man, I had no idea just how tough the paddling was going to be!
Where did you learn to surf?
Hayden from Surf Zone got me on my first foamy on a board as big as a barn door! The first wave I actually caught was due to the strength and ocean knowledge of 12x World Surfski Champion, Oscar Chalupsky. Oscar took me out for a surf with his son at Umhlanga, and for the first 10 minutes I just flailed around in the water, unable to paddle onto a wave, until Oscar put me out of my misery, grabbed my board and pushed me on to a perfect wave!
Where do you surf the most now?
Currently, two surfs during the IPL at a spot called Vizag (India) have been the only times I have surfed in the past 3 months! Before my 10 week stint in India started, I surfed Big Bay a couple of times, and the wreck, in Cape Town, and now that my daughter, Daniella has started spending time in the water, we surf at Ushaka when I am up in Durban!
Where did you get your best barrel?
My best, and only barrel was courtesy of Jason Ribbink at the Blue Lagoon river mouth, way back in 2004 soon after I had started surfing! Jason had been a real help with advice on boards to try, and when I explained to him that I wasn’t getting much wave time, he volunteered to tow me in at Blue Lagoon! The first wave I released onto, saw me glide up the face, until I became the lip, and was sent pummeling down into the sand, amongst all the hooks n sinkers! Second wave, after being informed that I actually had to ride the wall, I managed to pull in and out, of my one and only barrel! Jason asked me if it was quiet in the “green room”, and I replied, “No, I was screaming all the way through, expecting to eat the sand at any moment!”
Where is your favourite wave?
Hard to say, don’t have enough surf time under my belt to be able to give an educated opinion, but here goes me list: Ponta d’Ouro, Elands, Vic Bay and J Bay.
Can you remember the worst beating the sea has given you while surfing?
Yes, paddling out in Durban in a huge swell in 2009, when most of the people were on the pier, and not in the water. Jason had just upgraded my board from an epoxy to one out of Dooma’s quiver, and after absolutely sh*tting myself paddling out, I spent the next 20 minutes watching blokes getting barreled off their pips. Anyway, when I finally felt brave enough to catch a wave that nobody else wanted –usually a bad sign on a big day – I was so scared of getting klapped by the lip, that I stayed ahead of the barrel, all the way across to the next pier, almost riding over a bloke paddling out! As I paddle out behind him, I apologised for my bad driving skills, and he said not to worry, as it was the BIGGEST smile he had ever seen, stitched across my face! Now that I had decided I could handle the swell, I decided to try and pull into the barrel on my next wave! As I bottom-turned, I tried to slow myself down by putting my arm into the face of the wave (as I have seen on countless surf DVD’s) but had no idea that the pull of the water would drag me up the face of the wave, and once again, I became the lip! I got totally thrashed, and once I eventually surfaced, I saw that my board was now in two pieces, and I was about to be pushed through the pier! Fortunately, I am a little bloke, and was able to “boogie board” my way back to shore on the half of board that I was still attached to! Only caught two waves – well, I caught 1 and the other caught me – but an unforgettable surf nonetheless!!
Where have you surfed overseas and where was the best surf you Have SEEN?
The best wave I have watched overseas was at Uluwatu, Bali, but there were so many blokes in the water, that I was happy sitting way out on the end, catching the smaller fry that nobody else wanted! Wave was amazing, both riding and watching other surfers shred it apart!
There are lots of sharks around these days. Have you had any experiences?
I am so scared of sharks that I never used to go and watch the rugby in Durban – another reason for me to start surfing was to overcome my fear of sharks. Sadly, that hasn’t been conquered yet!
You are a surfing ambassador for India. How did that come about and what does it entail?
Hopefully, as many waves as I can catch every time I come to India! Paddy Upton, who worked with Team India during the 2011 Cricket World Cup, is an avid surfer, and dedicated traveler, spoke to me last month about trying to put surfing on the map in India. Cricket is such a popular sport over here, that Paddy hopes that with my involvement, and the media’s fascination with anything to do with cricket, my role will lift the profile of surfing in India! There are many potential surf spots, but with no facilities, as the locals don’t have the equipment or expertise to make the most of the enormous coastline. During my recent surf in India, the surf “shop” was an outdoor room, 200 metres away from the sea, that had four boards you could hire. I was the 2nd best surfer in the town, but there were only four guys in the whole province who surf!
What is your goal in surfing?
Get more waves more often!
Who is your favourite surfer?
Jason Ribbink - he can ride any board in any conditions!
Any comments to the surfers of South Africa?
Never complain about the lineup – I have surfed in Australia a couple of times, and there are so many ous in the water there, that we should be grateful that we consider 10 surfers to be a crowd!