Arguably Cape Town’s most prolific boarding export, Jared Houston, 27, who now calls Puerto Rico home, completed his dream season last year when he was crowned world champion on the Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB) World Tour.
He has been chasing that dream since 2010, when he first signed to the tour. In that same year he came up with the concept of a top-class local event for up-and-coming Cape Town boarders to call their own.
With his schedule packed to the brim, he doesn’t get as much time on home shores as he may like, but the world champ used the opportunity of his current trip to host the first of his competitions for juniors since 2012.
“I first became involved with bodyboarding through my parents as they thought it was something fun and safe for me to do. They were partly right.
“They bought me my first board while on holiday in Onrus, near Hermanus. I was instantly hooked and have been in the ocean almost every day since then.
“Becoming world champion in 2015 has been my biggest achievement for sure. It is the pinnacle achievement in the sport and I can’t believe I finally did it.
“The first thing I did when I got back home was to hit the nearest biltong stand and get involved.
“After that I had a quick catch up with my folks and a big sleep. Our first day was filled with family, boerewors and sunshine – a perfect day at home,” he said.
On Saturday, the mist was rolling in on Derdesteen beach, just past Table View, as organisers set up for the inaugural VS Grom King event.
By the time boarders hit the water it was sunshine and surf and slick moves being busted out left, right and centre.
At the end of the day two champions were crowned. In the under-16 division Paarl’s Henry le Roux claimed top honours while Wilder Schultz, of Melkbosstrand, took advantage of his home turf and claimed the top spot in the under-20 division.
What made Schultz’s showing even more impressive was that he was able to hold fellow Melkbosser and current World Tour-signed boarder Ethan Nel, at bay. Nel had to settle for second place.
Le Roux and Schultz walked away with not only their titles but the world champ’s signature VS “Houston” bodyboards under their arms.
“The idea behind the events I have run was that I wanted to give back to the sport and give the young guys here in SA something to call their own. It was a big success and we ran events until 2012.
“In 2013 I set up base in Puerto Rico with my wife and subsequently haven’t made it home much since then.
“However, as I am the current world champion I really wanted to give the guys that platform and a world stage opportunity to compete in an event organised by me,” he said.
“The best advice I ever received was to go over to Australia in order to really make a name for myself. The Australian scene is still the biggest in the world but I don’t think that advice would apply today. I think the best advice I can give young riders is to enjoy every moment that they are in the ocean. It is a gift and we are very lucky to be able to take part in this amazing sport.
“Bodyboarding is a small sport but if it’s what you love and you’re good at it, you will find success in some way. Pace yourself, be smart and set realistic goals,” said Houston.