Richards Bay local Mark McCarthy took a well earned 3rd place overall at the Cave Rock Invitational held on the Bluff, Durban on Saturday 24 June.

markmac
Mark on his first wave of the day • Pic by Marck Botha

The Cave Rock Invitational is a unique event which sees 24 invited stand-up surfers and bodyboarders taking part against each other with one rider emerging as champion. The invitees are top athletes in their respective sports and are invited based on their form and knowledge of the rock! The winner of this years event was Andre Botha, renowned waverider and 2 x world bodyboarding champion.

The annual contest takes advantage of an event window which was set at 16 June to 16 July this year. This window means that the contest can be held in the very best conditions Cave Rock has to offer with riders being on standby to get to the event on short notice once conditions look to be favourable on a certain day. With a strong south swell and favourable winds predicted the event was given the green light for Saturday 24 June.

Cave Rock did not disappoint with some 8foot sets rolling through. The surf was big and wild especially with the dropping tide making things quite hairy for the competitors.

We spoke to Mark about his experience at the contest.

John: Well done for the making the finals. The pic of you is really impressive - how were the waves really on the day?
Mark: Thank you, it was really good in the morning with fresh off-shores winds blowing up the 6 to 8 ft waves. With the spring low tide it made the waves very shallow and hollow.

John: I saw on Facebook you took a few on the head? Conditions pretty tough?
Mark: Its was rather challenging at times as every so often there would be a 10ft wave that would break deeper in the line up and I got a few of them on my head. But it all part of paying tax when riding in bigger conditions.

John: How did the format go with surfers vs bodyboarders? Did it work out well? Is the judging different?
Mark: It worked very well! It started with a 4 man heat, 2 bodyboarders and 2 surfers. It was bodyboarder vs bodyboarder and surfer vs surfer so in every heat one surfer and one bodyboarder would progress into the next heat. So the final ends up with 2 bodyboarders and 2 surfers where there is then one winner. There was four judges, 2 surfing and 2 bodyboarding, but they were well experienced and could judge both equally. It was actually really fun riding in the same heat with different water crafts.

John: What was it like surfing in the final against Andre Botha and the bluff locals?
Mark: It was great, Ricky and Andre are both good friends of mine so there was no hustling and trying to take each others waves. We just took our turns and tried our best to entertain the crowds.

John: Did you win all your heats? Tell us about the road to the final briefly?
Mark: Yes I won all my heats as they were actually man on man heats. I got my highest 9spt ride in my first heat and in the quarters and semi-finals things were really close and I got my winning waves in the last 10 seconds. In my semi-final I got really beaten down by a few huge waves which took a big part of my 20min heat so I was rather lucky to find a winning wave in the dying seconds.

John: What were the waves like in the final?.. The wind picked up quite a bit.
Mark: Yes the wind had a huge effect on the final. The North-easterly picked up and make it very choppy and the tides started pushing out so the side wash also effected the waves.

John: This is not your first CRI hey? What have been your other results here?
Mark: No this is the second time that I have been invited to the event. In 2016 I also made the final and ended up in 4th Place.

John: Looked like an awesome vibe outside of the water? What are your thoughts on this event?
Mark: The event was a huge success, the Bluff has some of the most beautiful beaches. There was a big turn out for the event and they really go behind the riders, cheering on every wave which was encouraging.

Mark: I would have given you the title just for this pic... Tell me about this wave? Did you make it?
John: It was rather rewarding seeing this pic after the event. I am still happy on 3rd place but when you make the final you have to also got to back yourself to win. The pic was from my first wave in my first heat when the wind was still offshore. My eyes lit up when this wave popped up in-front of me, I just turned and went. It hit the reef perfectly and I got barreled for about 5 seconds and it blew me out with a BIG SMILE on my face.

John: Any final thoughts, thanks or shout-outs
Mark: Thanks for all the support I got on the day and messages afterwards! Big thanks to my sponsors Hand Pick Bodyboards, Lizzard Clothing and North Core Skate n Surf.

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