Surfers riding waves of change feature in digital series

Two short films about two local surfers who defied stereotypes in the surfing world were launched at the President Hotel in Bantry Bay last week.

The films, directed by Woodstock resident Kyla Philander, 31, from Woodstock, deals with defying prejudices based on race and gender.

They are part of Corona Studios’ Free Surfer digital content series, and feature South African surfers, Cass Collier in The Ocean is Freedom, and Khanyisa Mngqibisa in When I’m surfing, I’m free.

Cass Collier from Lotus River, won the Big Wave World championship in 1999.

“I was inspired by Cas and Khanyi (and) I met them before I pitched my idea to Corona Studios… and I was awarded the job,” said Ms Philander.

“Besides the beauty of the visuals, being able to curate a moment of their lives and it being archived is important. So I hope that the audience is inspired by their stories, that they are hopeful and maybe a little bit defiant,” she said.

When Mr Collier, 50, from Lotus River, won the Big Wave World championship in 1999, he was the first coloured person to do so.

“It’s an honour for me to be part of this movie and I want people to be inspired to go to the beach, to enjoy nature. People need to enjoy the outdoors more and take part in sports,” he said.

He is still competing and coaching young surfers and is challenging for a place in the SA surfing champs to be held later this year.

“A lady told me that I don’t look like a surfer. She doesn’t know I’m a world champion in this sport. We need more transformation in our sports and I will continue pushing for that transformation. It’s not about winning, it’s about showing people that you can enjoy this sport no matter how you look,” he said.

Ms Mngqibisa, 31, who lives in Khayelitsha, says she has experienced discrimination because she is a woman.

“The film is an inspiration and motivation to all young African black people, especially young women, who believe that surfing and swimming is only for white people. After seeing the film I hope this will change their perception,” said Ms Mngqibisa.

She says there are opportunities for black women in surfing and that people need to be informed of these prospects.

“I hope this film also shows how we are surrounded by opportunities and how we can make the best of it, a lack of knowledge can prevent people from getting those opportunities. Most importantly the film also reminds people that we are free to have access to surf or swim and enjoy the beautiful nature around, at any beach that we feel like going too.”

Khanyisa Mngqibisa, internationally qualified lifeguard and surf coach, is from Khayelitsha.