The first ever Cape Province Interschool’s Surfing contest took place on a mid-winter Saturday at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg in 1966.
Teams of four from Muizenberg High, Camps Bay High, Fish Hoek High, Rondebosch Boys High, St Georges College and Settlers High as well as Bishops took part in this historic surfing event.
The surf was small and the wind was crosshore which was pretty typical for Muizenberg. Nevertheless, the conditions were contestable which was all that was required for the event to take place.
Muizenberg High arrived as firm favorites. Not only did they have an abundance of surfers to choose their teams from but it was also their local surf spot. Camps Bay High called on the talented Paarman brothers, Donald and Jonathan, who grew up in Bakoven and surfed powerful Glen Beach near Camps Bay most of the time. Donald and Jonathan Paarman went on to become Springbok surfers and are legends in South African surfing folk lore.
Fish Hoek also boasted some fine surfers, many of whom would win Provincial colours in the years after the Interschools contest while Rondebosch Boys High also had some talented surfers in their teams.
Bishops entered two teams. The Senior Team was made up of Piers Pittard (1969G), Michael Godfrey (1966G) and his brother Edward (1969G) and Peter Whipp (1967G), all of whom were Gray house members. The Junior team included “newboys” Robin de Kock (1969F), Grant Hare and Simon Hearn, who were also in Gray House and Robin’s brother Pieter, who was still at Prep.
The Bishops Senior team surfed very well, led by some brilliant surfing by Piers Pittard (1969G), and upset the odds by beating Muizenberg High into second place, much to the dismay of the locals. The Bishops Junior team tried hard but finished well behind the top teams. They nevertheless shared in the glory achieved by the members of the Senior team.
Although this achievement was recognized by Gray House, that is where it ended.
The contest itself was run from the back of a kombi, using a made up scoring system and no real official records or photos were kept. But there was a trophy for the winning team and the Bishops team won it while each team member also won a trophy and Piers won an individual trophy for his outstanding surfing. There were no official school surfing baggies, wet suits, or colors and no master in charge. Just us eight and our surfboards.
Peers Pittard (1969G) went on to surf for Western Province and Eastern Province and was a Springbok surfer in 1968, 1974, 1976 and in 1978, the year he captained South Africa at the World Championships in East London which South Africa won.
Both Michael (1966G) and Edward (1969W) Godfrey surfed for Western Province. Edward was awarded the Louw Wepner medal for bravery for saving some fishermen who got into trouble in rough seas in Luderitz where he was doing his Defence Force training.
Pieter Whipp (1967G) is obviously best known as the Western Province rugby centre who played 71 games for the “streeptruie” and eight for the Springboks before a serious injury ended his career.
Robin de Kock (1969F) became a prominent provincial, national and international surfing administrator and remains the General Manager of the National Surfing body, Surfing South Africa, to this day.
He was the Manager of five South Africa surfing teams between 1982 and 2010, received a State Presidents Award in 1996 and this year will be inducted into the Surfers Circle Walk of Fame at Muizenberg along with Piers Pittard. Robin also wrote a Surfing column for the Cape Argus for 15 years.
Even after being pierced by a javelin in a sensitive area at school in the summer of 1968, Pieter played continued with his sporting career at Bishops, playing first team rugby and first team cricket. He also played for Hamiltons Rugby Club after school.
Pieter briefly surfed on the Navy’s Surf team and after one heat at scary Noodhoek when he posted zero points, retired from competitive surfing for good. Pieter, who lives in California, has managed to surf a bit on Hawaii holidays since moving to the USA.
There is no record of whether Grant Hare (1969S) and Simon Hearn (1971G) continued their surfing careers, but once a surfer always a surfer so they must have continued surfing after school.
I think it is time to honor, and add to the list of South African Sports OD’s, both Piers Pittard, and Robin de Kock, for their achievements in surfing, and officially recognize the 1966 Bishops surfing team as proud Western Province Interschools surfing champions.
Compiled by Pieter de Kock (1972F)
Our heartiest congratulations to the School Archivist, Dr Paul Murray, who has been awarded the Colenso Visitorship to St John's College, Cambridge for the 2022-3. More...
The OD Union calls upon its members to submit applications for the position of Honorary Treasurer of the Union. More...