Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth is ready to host the 2007 Reef Wetsuits SA Grommet Games (Presented by Mandela Bay Tourism), getting under way with an opening function at the Summerstrand Hotel on Wednesday April 4.
The tournament itself gets underway on Thursday (April 5) and ends on Sunday (April 8).
This is the 16th edition of the SA Grommet Games which is presented by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism with support from Sport and Recreation SA and it forms part of the Splash Festival, which traditionally takes place in the Friendly City over the Easter weekend.
The event was introduced onto the national calendar, to give novice surfers from around the country an opportunity to compete in a major tournament for the first time.
Many South African surfers who began their competitive surfing careers in the Grommet Games, have gone on to surf in the SA Junior Championships and the SA Championships, and some have represented South Africa in National Teams at International competitions.
This will be the third year that Reef Wetsuits will sponsoring the four day championships alongside the "Watersports Capital of Africa" and this year Sport and Recreation SA have added their support to the event.
The Grommet Games were born out of Surfing’s unification process back in 1992 and Port Elizabeth has hosted the last 14 tournaments, all of which have been part of the annual Splash Festival.
The reason why Port Elizabeth has remained as the venue for this important and significant championship is because it is situated mid way between Durban and Cape Town which means that almost all of the teams have to travel the same distance to participate.
In addition Pollock Beach produces consistent, contestable conditions for surfers representing their provincial teams in their first ever national contest.
The Reef Wetsuits SA Grommet Games is regarded as a premier Surfing South Africa Championship and has taken its place alongside the National Junior, SA Masters and SA Championships as one of the defining tournaments on the Surfing South Africa calendar.
The youngest of the 150 or so surfers at the contest will compete in the Under 8 Division with the oldest participants taking part in the Under 16 group.
Both girls and boys from a mixture of different cultures and communities are represented across the seven divisions and are drawn from the rural villages of Southern KZN and the Northern KZN region and others are from a rural surf club in Port Edward.
Surfers from Jeffrey’s Bay contribute a significant number of surfers to the EP team while Port Alfred, the Cape Flats and of course Port Elizabeth will provide a number of the competitors at this year’s event.
The SA Grommet Games is about transformation within Surfing, and provinces are set strict criteria when it comes to selecting their teams.
While much of the focus is on surfing itself, the Games include events such as a paddle battle, beach flags and tag team surfing competition, with the most participative and successful team winning the Mandela Bay Best Team Trophy.
The result of the process of team selection within the eight regions and three provinces is a wonderful five days of social and competitive interaction, and the added advantage is that Surfing SA is able to identify potential national and perhaps even future world champions.
These talented surfers will be included in the National Development Academy for three years, and will get their chance to compete as a Future Stars team against Provincial sides.
They will also be given the opportunity to visit the Nelson Mandela Bay University’s Sport Science department, where they will undergo training by professionals.
Thanks to support from Sport and Recreation South Africa, Surfing SA is able to assist with the travel and accommodation costs of the disadvantaged athletes in each of the participating teams, while Reef Wetsuits, a long time supporter of junior surfing in South Africa, is the major sponsor of the tournament.
Eastern Province Surfing Council hosts the tournament, and they will compete against teams from Western Province, KZN, Border, Boland, Southern Cape, Southern KZN and Zululand.