Westville waveski champion, Ryan Griffith (RG) started wave skiing at the age of five with his father, who is also a waveski champ, Dave Griffith. He said growing up on the beach, riding the waves seemed natural for him and his siblings. Over the past 20 years, he has won numerous titles and recently participated in the SA Championship in Jongensfontein where he ranked third in the country, winning Sportsman of the Year. Tabloid Newspapers (TN) spoke to Ryan on his waveskiing career and his achievements so far.
TN: Did you grow up as one of those babies who enjoyed being in the water?
RG: I absolutely did. My parents always encouraged me to get involved in anything to do with the ocean – surf, sail, scuba, spearfishing. We have always had an array of body boards, surfboards, longboards and waveskis that we took with us on our beach trips.
TN: What competitions have you participated in, and which are your highlights?
RG: Numerous. The SA Championships and world titles over the last 20 years. My highlights being the four junior world titles that I won. Two of them I won in South Africa, one in Australia and one in Spain. My most recent one was at the SA Champs in Jongensfontein, where I ranked third in the country and winning Waveski Sportsman of the Year after 16 years out of the sport due to a back injury in 2002.
TN: Do you belong to any club?
RG: Yes, I belong to KZN Waveski and South African Waveski surfing associations and to Canoeing South Africa.
TN: When not riding waves, what do you do for fun?
RG: I enjoy keeping active, so I am often training at GetFit Westville or the Westville Power Pilates studio. I enjoy going on adventures with my two-year-old daughter, or spending time with family and friends.
TN: How do you juggle your job and sport?
RG: The key is dedication. Fitting in an early surf before work is a great way to start the day.
TN: Are you the only one in your family that enjoys riding waves?
RG: No. We are an entire family of board riders, with most of us surfing, long-boarding or waveskiing. We joke that the saltwater is in our blood.
TN: What challenges have you faced preparing for a competition?
RG: Injury and recovery is always the greatest challenge when competing. You have to constantly push yourself to such a high level during training and competition that unfortunately you sometimes get hurt.
TN: Does your sport require any special training or any eating plan?
RG: The sport itself does not, but if you want to win, you have be prepared to be in the water at least five days a week. I have been incredibly lucky to be trained by Denver Subramany and Paul Marks at Getfit Westville. With their programme I was able to not only lose an incredible amount of weight (55kgs) but get back to my peak fitness level which has helped end this year on the podium.
TN: Who is your inspiration and why?
RG: My inspiration comes from my fellow competitors, Bruce Viaene (East London), Mike Wessels (Cape Town) and Duran Martin (KZN). These guys have set the bar incredibly high with their level of surfing, to beat them requires me to be at my best at all times.
TN: After a challenging day, what do you do to relax wine, beer or whisky?
RG: I avoid alcohol completely while I am training for a contest, but I do enjoy an occasional good bottle of red wine.
TN: Which is you ideal holiday destination and why?
RG: Bali would always be my first choice. It is incredibly beautiful and has some excellent surf spots.