Justin Boast give us his report on the first full-on championship series for the South African gravity racing scene. With plenty of stoked racers, 2010 became the year they finally had enough venues to make it more than just the amazing Hot Heels...and they sure did. Check it out:
South African Downhill National Championship
Friday afternoon 14th January, I'm sitting in front of my computer with a grin on my face and a sense of aweness (stoke) flowing through my body, I sit here as Chairman and for the first time in SAGRA's history with the completed 6 race national series points! With just a couple of hours to go before we announce the champions at Rafiki's, I toy with the idea of blurbing the results on Facebook for all to see but I contain myself.
2 years, that is how long the South African Gravity Racing Association had been waiting, biding it's time to implement its first ever South African Downhill National Championship. You need hills to race on and with the Western Cape having been the predominant downhill racing province out of the 9 in South Africa, there was not much of a national series. We had to wait for the longboarding scene to grow by itself, to bring out more longboarders in different provinces of South Africa. With the inclusion of the King of the Fort race that was held at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, which is part of the Gauteng Provence, SAGRA went a head with it's first South African Downhill National Championship series. What started out as an organization that organized at the most 3 events per year, had grown to 6 races in 2010. This was all due to rider attendance which had grown from 2009. With every race in 2010 SAGRA had above average in riders racing and riders skating the non-racing category. Now, it had all come to fruition.
In September 2010, SAGRA ran the King of the Fort race in Pretoria. This was the 3rd race of the year and there was a 50/50 chance of this race been successful, due to the racing scene still been very small in the Pretoria and surrounding areas. To our surprise, riders from all over South Africa put in the effort and bought plane tickets or filled up their petrol tanks to make the journey to Pretoria. SAGRA was super stoked with all the riders that came to the event and with that kind of effort put in by all the riders we decided there and then that we had to have a final 3 race back to back series to end off the 2010 session. 2010 was definitely the year for progression, nearing the end of the year and with just a few weeks to go to the final 3 races, there was an increase in requests for a junior division to be added to skateboarding. In SAGRA's existence we had never had a junior division, slotting the odd grom that wanted to race into the open skateboard division. With confirmation of a bunch groms wanting to participate, we were stoked to add them in our first ever junior division for the last 2 races of 2010.
The final 3 races were definitely the deciding races for all the riders. If anyone wanted to secure a good spot on the SA National ranking, riders would have to race the final 3 races. Russell Naude put the hammer down in 2010 and going into the final 3 races he was on top of both the classic and street luge divisions followed closely by Glen Phillips and Brain Isham. At the end of the final 3 races, Russell took the top spot for both classic and street luge becoming SAGRA's first ever SA National Champion, Glen Phillips took 2nd in both classic and street luge as well. Brain failed to make it to Hot Heels Africa and lost his 3rd place in the street luge division to the youngest rider Duayne Cumpsty but still made it to 3rd place in classic luge. Duayne came into the last 3 races in 6th position and because he did all 6 races he accumulated enough points to beat Brain to 3rd place in street luge.
In the Skateboard
division, it was hotly contested between Matt Arderne, Anton Pratt and Glen Phillips. All 3 riders placed well in the final 3 races; Glen won the first race of the 3 races, Houwteq HDX and Anton came 4th with Matt taking 6th. At Fair Cape Downhill Challenge II, Matt beat a bunch of international riders to make it into the finals taking 3rd, while Glen and Anton both made it to the consolation finals placing 6th and 8th respectively. The final and most important race of the year with the most points was Hot Heels Africa, IGSA's final world cup race of 2010. Glen Phillips had an unfortunate crash in his street luge heat and hurt his ribs. He still managed to skate his heat but unfortunately place 29th, with his WC points added to the series points Glen placed an impressive 3rd in the skateboard division, been the only rider to secure himself in the top 3 of all the divisions! Anton and Matt skated hard in all their heats, with Matt making it to the consolation finals placing 8th and Anton making it to the finals of Hot Heels Africa, placing 4th.
Which now brings us back to me sitting in front of my computer with the final results for the championship. After Hot Heels Africa most of the riders and SAGRA members went their ways, leaving the SA series announcement to be made in January of this year. During the few weeks that everyone was away a lot of speculation was going on as to who would be the winner in the skateboard division. Matt, Anton and Glen were very close with the points and if Glen had placed any higher at Hot Heels Africa, he could of easily taken 2nd or 1st spot. It was now between Anton and Matt, with much anticipation riders started gathering at Rafiki's to hear who took the skateboard championship.
I left work for Rafiki's. Our usual spot was booked on the balcony and, by the time I got there, it was packed with riders. Unfortunately, not everyone could make it but we had a good crowd waiting to hear the final results. With a buzz in the air, beer flowing and smiles all round it was time to let the cat out the bag! We started off with classic and street luge; next up was the groms, even though they had only raced two races we thought it best to give them credit with Nick Hook taking the the top spot in the junior division. Skateboard was next, Glen came in at 3rd and with only a few points between Anton and Matt, Anton took a very close 2nd. Unfortunately Matt was away at his home in the Eastern Cape, I called him earlier on that day asking him what he was up to later that evening, I told him to keep his phone close. After announcing Anton's 2nd place I got my phone out and called Matt, knowing he was on the other side I announced Matt taking SAGRA's first ever skateboard championship. I held the phone up and everyone there gave a loud roar, it was sick! I was stoked and happy that SAGRA had pulled off its first championships! The rest of the night was a haze of beer, shots and more beer. SAGRA would like to thank all the riders for making the effort through out 2010 and coming to race, we would of never of been able to pull this off without the numbers! Special mention goes to the SAGRA team, Anton Pratt, Iona Zietsman, Russell Naude, Justin Leslie, Ivo Bronski, Lloyd Clark and Massimo Bastiotto, without their hard work and dedication the 6 race series would not of happened.
Images taken by Sharon Le Grange/Anton Pratt