Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fundraising for Cape Town shark spotters

A cheque for R10 068 has been handed over to the Shark Spotters Programme in Cape Town by the Kahuna Surfing Academy, organisers of the attempt on the Guinness World Record for the ‘most surfers standing on one wave’ and Shark Debate in Cape Town in September.

The amount was raised through donations by spectators and the profits from the project that saw over 300 local surfers take to the waves at the popular Muizenberg Corner surfing venue on Sunday 17 September to ride six waves in an hour, one of which saw 73 surfers riding on one wave simultaneously for more than five seconds.

“Many thanks for this donation,” said Yvonne Kamp, coordinator of the Shark Spotters Programme at the cheque handover at Muizenberg Beach. “The funds will be put to good use,” she added, explaining that the programme was being expanded from the original sites at Muizenberg and Fish Hoek to include St James and other beaches in False Bay as well as popular surfing beaches on the Atlantic coast of the Peninsula such as Long Beach, Kommetjie, and the Hoek on Noordhoek Beach.

The fund raising project was conceived by the father and son duo of Paul and Dene Botha to raise awareness of the Great White shark situation around the Cape Peninsula that has seen more than a dozen attacks in the past four years, three of them fatal and four in which victims lost limbs or were maimed.

A debate staged in a marquee tent at the beach and attended by over 100 people, was presented with the city’s draft Shark Safety Strategy compiled from 17 papers submitted by shark scientists, local government and others that features the Shark Spotting Programme as it’s core mitigation policy to protect humans in the ocean.

The gathering also heard presentations from Cape Town Tourism, the NSRI and concerned ocean users representing surfers, lifesavers, surfski paddlers, divers and fishermen. Serious concerns were raised, particularly about the shark cage diving industry, which was completely absolved of any blame for the increase in inshore shark activity by the shark scientists who compiled the strategy document.

“Thanks to the support of the surfing community, surf industry and generous sponsors the project successfully presented the city’s shark strategy, voiced the concerns of ocean users, claimed a world surfing record for Cape Town and raised some funds for the Shark Spotters,” explained Paul Botha.

“We were fortunate with the weather and waves and the huge turnout stretched our organisational capacity to its limits,” he added, “So we know it can be done better and we’ll run another attempt next year and hopefully raise even more funds.”

More than R2 200 was donated by members of the public on the day and over R7 000 in profits from the project came from donations from the participants, sponsorship that funded the participation and travel costs for more than 50 young surfers from disadvantaged communities, competitions such as a raffle and Dig for Gold and an auction that sold donated products.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to the event,” commented Dene Botha who had registered the record attempt with the Guinness World Record organisation in London in May after seeing that a new record of 44 surfers on a single wave had been set in Ireland. “We were hoping 200 surfers would participate, but well over 300 got involved and we’re now awaiting confirmation for our claim of 73 surfers on one wave.”


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