A young surfer from Jeffreys Bay will see his dream come true this July when he represents his town in the biggest surfing contest on the African continent, the J-Bay Open of Surfing.
Dylan Lightfoot (19) carved the grinding walls of Supertubes, the world-famous surfing spot in J-Bay, in June to win the JBU Supertrial and earn himself a wildcard entry into the J-Bay Open, set to take place from 10-20 July.
The J-Bay Open is the sixth round of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT), which returns to Jeffreys Bay this year after a two-year break. It is the anchor event of the second J-Bay Winter Festival.
While Jeffreys Bay prepares for the biggest winter party in the Eastern Cape, Lightfoot remains calm and focused on what lies before him – taking on the biggest names in surfing in his back garden.
“It is a dream come true. Ever since I started surfing, my dream has been to represent J-Bay and surf the WCT event at Supertubes,” he said.
It won’t be easy for the J-Bay local as the wildcards usually surf against the top ranked surfers in the world in the first round. However, Lightfoot is unperturbed by having to surf against legends such as multiple world champion Kelly Slater.
“I will probably surf against Gabriel Medina (the world’s number one ranked surfer) in round one and all the pressure will be on him as he has never surfed Supers before,” said Lightfoot.
“If I have to surf against Kelly Slater in round one (which is the other permutation facing Lightfoot) it will be a different ball game. Kelly rips Supers. He has won here before and will always be dangerous at Supers.”
The J-Bay community is united behind Lightfoot and will be vocal in their support for the local youngster.
“The locals are tight in JBay and that is exactly how it should be,” says Lightfoot.
“The ballies (older surfers) look after the youngsters at all the surf breaks in J-Bay. Some of the young guns are starting to stand up to ensure that the next generation of kids will also get the opportunities to surf Supers like we did.”
Lightfoot worked his way up the JBay hierarchy, from surfing foamies at Main Beach as a five-year-old, progressing to Kitchen Window, the Point and then eventually Supertubes.
Jeffreys Bay is a conservative town at its core and Lightfoot has been humble and respectful as he worked his way up the hierarchy to being the young gun that will represent the locals in the J-Bay Open.
“I really appreciate all the support the town is giving me and I will do my best to make J-Bay proud,” said Lightfoot. “Special thanks to the JBU for making it all happen with the J-Bay Winter Fest and for bring the WCT back to town”
As his mate from before primary school, Keane Hansen high-fives Dylan after that comment, one gets the sense that the youngster is ready for the lime light.
The Winter Fest takes place from 10-20 July . More info at www.jbaywinterfest.com.
Follow St Francis Chronicle on Twitter: @stfranchronicle