International Surf Rescue Challenge Media Release  ISRC1902

26 Sept 2019

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Written by: Dave Macleod

Local juniors eager to seize chances at International Surf Rescue Challenge

Durban - As the world’s best lifesavers converge on Durban for the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge that gets under way this weekend, the teenagers selected for the South African Youth team are itching to prove their worth and perform alongside their idols.

“This is probably one of the strongest Youth teams we have ever had,” said team manager Lauren Billson. “They have what it takes to mix it with the best of the athletes from Australia and New Zealand.”

“In the past we have been content to settle for the bronze medal, but this year we can really challenge for the top two positions,” said team manager Josh Kreft.

“Confidence will play a big role and the way that the first test plays out. We have home ground advantage and we want to make the most of that.

“If we can unsettle them in the first test and then ride that momentum through, then we have a good shot at something better than bronze,” he added.

As one of only two international events that allows for Youth teams to compete alongside senior teams, this is a guilt-edged opportunity for young aspiring lifesavers to put their hands up.

“For the juniors, this is as good as it gets,” said Billson, who experienced this as a youngster in Port Elizabeth in 2009. “You can watch your idols and maybe even get a pat on the back from one of the sport’s legends. That makes this event really special,” she added.

The South African junior men and women can look forward to massive support and lifesaving clubs from across the country are sending supporters to line the beaches and piers for the event.

The team includes Umhlanga Rocks SLC rising star Connor Botha, who brings a wealth of experience at international level to the squad, and is looking to take full advantage of his last year as a junior.

“I just want to go out and have fun, give it my all and test myself against the best in the world,” said Botha, who will spend the summer competing in Australia after completing his matric.

“I know the top Aussie and Kiwi guys because I have raced against them before, so some rivals might go down because I have beaten them before so they will be keen to beat me at home!”

Botha is prioritising the Iron Man as the event he would like to win the most. “That’s the most challenging event, where the best of the best race, so that is the one everyone wants to win,” he said.

For an athlete that has rocked the boat by podiuming in senior events at SA Champs, he is happy to be racing exclusively against other juniors.

“It is my last year as a junior, and anyway the guys I am racing against are so good that they are winning major senior events. The intensity and speed of the events will be pretty much the same,” he said.

The eight junior men and eight junior women represent a few specialists in a number of key lifesaving disciplines from clubs around the country. But as Kreft stresses, the key is picking a team that can cover all the bases properly.

“You need to look at the competition as a whole and see what events are there in that competition and which group of individuals will get you the most points,” says Kreft.

“The challenge comes when you have a red hot specialist in a particular discipline. You have to make sure that the rest of the team can cover all the other bases.”

South African Youth squad:
Ally Chislett, Celina Isaacs ,Connor Botha, Ellen Kleinsmidt, George Edward, Kira Bester, Liam Calvert, Matthew Fenn, Paige Horn, Ryan Chandler, Tatum Botha, Uli Hart, Jade Wilson, Sulinke Van Den Berg, Nicolas Kingston, Jake Schoeman.

More information can be found at 

Live results can be found at


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International Surf Rescue Challenge 2019 Logo - Landscape (JPeg)  
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Connor Botha will lead the South African Youth team to the International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. Graham TopFoto/
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Durbanite Paige Horn will look to take full advantage of the opportunities created by the International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. Brian Spurr/
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