Nippers ready for action

A nippers lifesaving competition will be held on Hout Bay beach on Sunday.

For the first time in 25 years, Hout Bay beach will be playing host to a nippers lifesaving competition this weekend.

Hosted by Llandudno Surf Lifesaving Club, nine Western Province clubs, comprising more than 300 nippers, will descend on the beach on Sunday November 25 to do battle in five land and water events, including beach sprints, flags, swim and board races.

The beach will be a hive of activity, with a number of Hout Bay businesses coming on board to support the event.

Nippers officer Paul Broxis said Llandudno Surf Lifesaving Club was thrilled to be hosting the event at Hout Bay, “a stunning backdrop for a sporting event”.

“While we do host adult lifesaving competitions, Llandudno has not been able to host nippers events because the seas at Llandudno are often too big for younger kids.”

But the fact is as a club we have really grown in the past few years, and so we felt that we wanted to put our weight behind Western Cape lifesaving by hosting an event ourselves,” he said.

“Even a few years ago, we only had 30-odd nippers but now we have more than 100, so we need to contribute.”

Mr Broxis, a resident of Hout Bay, said it was no secret that Hout Bay had its share of problems in the past year, and he hoped the lifesaving event would show the village in a positive light.

“It is a great chance for everybody to come out and enjoy the day, even if you are not a lifesaving enthusiast. I am delighted that all the Cape Town lifesaving clubs are joining us and to give our nippers a chance to compete in front of their friends and family,” he said.

The lifesaving challenge has also attracted the attention of celebrities, including world-renowned cricket coach Paddy Upton, who himself is a nippers’ parent.

“Nippers is the best all round sport in which a child can participate on land or in the water. It builds speed and endurance, the kids compete as individuals and in teams which instils discipline, respect and teamwork – all with an underlying purpose of saving lives. The Llandudno club has a fantastic community spirit. We’re a bunch of happy parents, surrounded by happy kids,” Mr Upton said.

Hout Bay Partnership/ Hout Bay Tourism Connect spokesperson Portia Msamo said programmes such as nippers were invaluable to tourism and was a means by which to keep communities aware of the importance of looking after the ocean.

“The Hout Bay Partnership and Hout Bay Tourism Connect cannot emphasise enough how important it is for young children to grow up understanding their natural environment, in order for them to respect it.

“Responsible tourism appeals to the goodwill of visitors to an area, and programmes like lifesaving promotes a destination’s awareness of the need of their area to be safe as well as enjoyable. The nippers is the foundation block that introduces young kids to the marine world and encourages them to interact with it respectfully, in order for it to continue to offer its beauty and brilliance. In the words of our favourite blue fish Dory, to the Nippers we say, ‘Just keep swimming’.”

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas welcomed the event to Hout Bay.

“The nippers programme is an excellent opportunity for youth from all backgrounds to partake in ocean activities where their swimming skills as well as their lifesaving ability and skills are honed, which is fundamentally important for the future development of lifeguards on our coastal and marine environments as well as those who could potentially develop and interest in our sea rescue operations,” he said.

“As the ward councillor for Hout Bay, it was an absolute pleasure to approve the permit for nippers to be held for the first time in 25 years. I firmly believe the interest shown in nippers to take place in Hout Bay is an excellent endorsement for Hout Bay, and it shows positive feelings towards the bay, which considering our rather turbulent year period, is very comforting.

“ It is an excellent indication of public sentiment towards Hout Bay ahead of the festive season.”

Still on a high from their best ever showing at the SA Nippers Championships earlier this year, in which they finished 5th out of 40 clubs, Llandudno Surf’s youngsters are looking forward to showcasing their talents at home for the first time.

The club will be fielding about 100 nippers aged 8 to 14 – its biggest team ever – who have been training hard.

Competitions start at 8.30am. Viewing is free to the public and a variety of foodstalls will be selling refreshments on the day.

For more information, contact, Paul Broxis on 082 903 1383.