The third installment of the SFO GripSteeze race series, held in Gauteng this past weekend, kicked off the downhill racing season in Jozi and PTA for 2018. The road is an intense, short 300m winding drop, with 3 hairpins and a quick 90° left-right chicane that shoots riders into the left hairpin. The race is made in the tricky first corner and because no pushing was allowed after the start, the perfect line in the first corner sets the rider up for the second 90 left into the 90 right chicane. After this, there is a fast left hairpin that falls into a right hairpin before dipping skaters into the last left which finishes on bricks. The event was fairly well attended by both ballies and groms and even had a host of spectators cheering on the riders. The event got underway around 9 am after many practice runs. It’s a good time to start racing when people start hitting the foam safety pads.
There were about 6 groms who had their own puck down race, some sneaky lines and steezy standies got the skaters through the corners and the pads. Nice to see the Grom scene picking up again and the GGS guys are creating a nice competition in both free riding and now racing. Will was solid every heat but had stiff competition from Shaggy. Will got first, Shaggy second, and Z third. First-time racers got a glimpse of the race vibe and hopefully will be back to challenge the rest of the youngsters next race.
The older guys had about 6/7 heats in a round robin format which became a knockout. It’s tricky using a 3 man system but we made a plan and will improve the brackets for the next race. There were some close heats and some crafty tactics saw competitors speeding down to finish on the bricks first. Mr. LSA aka ‘Doyle Clark’ dusted off some cobwebs and even remembered how to be fast by finishing 3rd. The final was el mano el mano between Mark JVR and Craig Harvsta.
Mark only lost once in the heats to a sneaky footbrake in the first corner by Craig but in the final his lines were solid and his focus was sharp. He nailed the first corner and dialed in his lines to keep Craig sniffing his thane-trail. The rivalry between these two is becoming competitive and they seem to alternate tops spots at races. This should make for an interesting season with the Dutch Bombers Juan and Richard getting faster and faster. If some of the old guys get back into racing it could be a great year for our scene.
After the final, we had a break for lunch and started a slide jam Steeze session. Skaters busted out some long standies and crazy puck downs around the corners while the crowd watched the madness. Some blunt slides from Nick the Grom and mad standies by Richard on little boards were great to see. Jay Jay, Bryn, Shaggy, and Will showed style and got some of the longest standies and slides. Shaggy won the longest puck down and Jay Jay got the longest standie. Lots of fun was had and the smiles were everywhere. Definitely need a big slide jam this year!!
We then invited skaters for a two-round standie race which had 8 riders battle for the top spot. Some unlucky puck touching saw Will out of the race and gave Christo, Craig, Richard, and Shaggy a chance race in the final. Richard on his tiny board was smooth and clean while he skated past the speedster Christo who cooked a bit too much and bailed. Shaggy also bailed but neither he nor Christo carried on skating. This allowed Craig to sneak past into second after falling in the first corner.
The skaters didn’t have any bad bails and the foam saved some teeth thanks to the observant Katrin, who was marshal, mother, and waitress on the day. Christo kept things in check and made the heats run like a principal in detention. Thank you to Kristi and Rochelle for marshaling the bottom corner and Rob HJ for helping out with positions and car control.
Thanks must also go to Tranquility Rescue Centre, who managed to hook us up at the last minute with boerie rolls and The Water for donating their high alkaline water and keeping us hydrated. Thank you Sandy and Sharon for the delicious boeries. A huge thank you and big ups to LongboardingSA, Fat Ant Bushing Co., and Pioneer DJ Institute for donating prizes and spreading the stoke. I think with more time and planning the next GripSteeze will see skaters from all over the country compete for the honour of holding up the trophy in this fun but tricky little racecourse. SFO is aiming to provide safer and smoother races as we grow this sport and bring people together. Thank you to everyone for coming through to skate, watch or help. The money raised was around R600 and it will be used to put up a mirror in the second corner to make it less blind and less dangerous. If you want to practice for the next race please remember to respect the residents and cars, keep them clean and use the sign at the bottom of the hill to warn cars. Aweh.
Words: Craig Harvey
Photos: Maryke van der Watt
Groms: William, Shaggy, Z, Nick, Stefan and Thomas.
Opens: Jay, Richard, Bryn, Mark, Casper, Pete, Craig, KC, Juan, Z (Elster retired sick), Wouter, William, Lloyd, Storm.