“I started in Muizenberg about four years ago”, explains Tanika. “I got into it quite easily. I was just messing around with a bodyboard, and I saw people surfing, it looked like fun, and I wanted to do it.”
“It would probably be winning the South Africa Champs last year,” when asked about her favourite surfing competition. “Surfing SA put it together in Somerset West, and I had to qualify for the Western Province team.
“I nearly got knocked out of the second round, but I made it through to the semis, then the finals. Alice McGregor, Bianca Buitendag and Sarah Baum, those were the girls in the u14 finals. I think it was quite close, but my last wave probably got me the win.
“It was a set wave that just came through before the end of the heat, I think I did two off-the-lips and a floater at the end, but I can’t quite remember (she giggles).
Tanika prefers to take the wave as it comes, rather than pre-planning her heat strategies. “I just look at the wave, and see what can be done.
“Tanika is a fine example of the talent that has emerged from the huge growth in girl’s surfing in South Africa over the last few years,” comments Robin de Kock, GM of Surfing SA, and the International Surfing Association’s Senior Vice President, he is well-placed to make the call.
“She began competing in the WP and Surfing SA development events a few years ago, and after winning a National title in 2005, and a number of Provincial championships, she is now recognised as one of the top Under 16 surfers in the country.”
“Surfing South Africa is encouraged by her competitive nature and impressed by her determination and we believe that she will soon be making her mark on the International stage".
Though her favourite surf spot will be one of the breaks off the long golden beaches of hometown Kommetjie, Tanika concedes she doesn’t mind surfing off any of South Africa’s finer coastlines.
“Oh yes, I’ve been all over the country, I’ve been to Durban, Port Elizabeth, Port Alfred, Jeffreys Bay, … and Vic Bay. I like Jeffreys Bay, and Durban, where I’ve surfed often,” says Tanika.
This school-going teenager has indicated the beginnings of her talent on a few worthy platforms, including walking off with the SA U14 Championship in 2005, and making it as far as the Senior Women Open semi-finals this year.
Could it be because her favourite sports star is a good friend and mentor? “It’ll probably be Rosy Hodge,” says Tanika. “She’s a really good friend of mine, and she’s doing really well. She started at a really young age, and she’s going really far. She’s only 20 now, and she’s travelling to contests all around the world.”
As December rolls in, Tanika sets off to see what can be done in the tropical settings of the KwaZulu Natal coastline, with two major events up early in the month. “I’ve got the Roxy Wahine Cup (U14 and Women Open) this weekend, and the Billabong ‘Girls Get Out There’ champs (U15 age group) right after.”
“My main competitors are probably Bianca Buitendag, Alice McGregor, and a few up-and-coming girls, but I’m just going to try to do my best, and do as well as I can,” the understated surfer remarks.
Tanika has been following the advice of coaches, and has recently commenced a training and fitness regime at the Sports Science Institute in Rondebosch.
With the assistance of her professional coaches, sponsors Roxy and Spider Surfboards, and a little understanding from her parents and teachers, this kid is keen to make surfing her living.
And what is Tanika’s favourite inspirational message? True to form: “Try hard, and always have fun!”