The Surfing Family: Meet the Venters
Location: South Africa
We understand the perception that surfing can be quite a selfish sport. But the Venter family has proven the exact opposite of how surfing became their special glue, family bonding time and the best memories. So, if you aspire to be a surfing family, learn from their experience(s).
Hello Venter Family
Nick and I (also Nikki) have been married for 17 years. We have four kids: Christian aged 15, Anastasia (12), Jasmine (9) and lastly Sam, our little 2-year old. With Nick being a surfer, he was always going to teach them all to surf. It’s a healthy sport and good for family life (if you all enjoy doing the same thing). He started teaching our eldest, when he was about 6 years old.
The Competitive Surfing Journey
When Christian turned 7, we somehow ended up at provincial trials and surprisingly, he made the team. Then at the SA Grommet Games, he surprised us again by just stepping it up. A well-known shaper said to us that his board was too bulky for his size and he was ready for a high performance board. So, we rolled the dice and switched boards right before the final, and he killed it. I remember this little guy in the hectic wind and the big waves and he said “This is fine. It’s just like the West Coast. I got this.”. He showed us that he was a real little competitor. We decided to do the junior tour with him, and thus our journey began.
Travel, Explore and Making Ends Meet
Christian ripped at the first SA event he did with news sources writing “Christian Venter set the standard for the U/10 boys.” He surfed the final so well that he was offered his first two sponsorships after that event. Since then, we have travelled. It hasn’t been easy financially, but it’s a decision we made and we have somehow by hook or crook gone to every event. Things are better now, but I have some crazy memories after the 2008 recession of us driving to East London in a 1977 vintage Mercedes. I remember us making our way to Jeffreys Bay and not having the petrol money to get back. I remember us doing a big garage sale the day before an event to make up the money to go. We had people in and out of our house all day buying stuff and we left the next day! Somehow, we always managed to pull it off.
Memories are Forever
Doing the junior tour with all the coaching and kit that goes with it, is not cheap. We have had to make some very specific choices and compromises along the way to be able to do it. It takes commitment, but it’s so worth it.
We have boxes and boxes of photos of us all over the country over the past 8 years. Our trips bond us as a family. We always knew we had the option of sending the kids on their own with friends, but we want them to stay young for as long as possible, and we like having a watchful and protective eye over them. So at least one of us always goes with, and when possible, we all go.
Bio on the Kids
Christian is an incredibly likable kid, a joker, he is kind to younger kids, always full of energy and amped – even when he came second for an entire year, he stayed upbeat. For a long time, second was his spot. But as he has waited for his first, he has kept his optimism. He is sponsored by Quiksilver, Oakley, RYD, Safari Surfboards and Sunset Surf Shop. Not that it means much to him, but he has over 9000 followers on his Facebook Page and generally makes an impact wherever he goes.
Now his younger sister, Anastasia has hit the tour with a bang and is surprising us all as she bombs her way through. She has had no real coaching outside of being coached by her dad, and she has been killing it this year. She is U/12 and has won every single event, except for one. Even in the highly contested U16 division, she is consistently making the final. She is understated, humble, kind, soft-hearted, but has this amazing, natural talent that she doesn’t even realise.
Jasmine, our third, is our reluctant ripper. She has won events and was the only girl to make it into the provincial team to compete against all the boys at the SA Grommet Games – but she says things like “Ah no, did I win that heat?” and “I have no desire to be on the WSL tour. I want to be an interior designer.”! She makes me laugh because she is so good, but doesn’t really enjoy competing yet. We’ll see how it goes.
Our youngest Sam is the best support crew. Still checking out the surf and rooting from the beach. His super cute smile makes up for the worst surf days.
Is it Worth It?
In a nutshell, yes it costs and yes, it requires a bit of planning and sacrifice – but it is so worth it. The kids have to work twice as hard at school when they are home, often staying at school until 4pm, because they are away so often. They miss play dates with friends and birthday parties, trying to balance school work with their surfing. We have instilled in them the importance of school and told them that if they want to keep surfing, they must keep their grades up. So, they all know the choice is theirs, and they work hard to get their surfing in.
Would everyone choose the lifestyle we have? Probably not, but we feel very blessed to have done it and to be able to continue doing it. Even if they don’t end up on the tour, we have had years of amazing bonding time as a family, they have made friends from all over the world, and they have learned a sport that they can do for the rest of their lives. Win!
Reading this we almost (all) want to have four kids and go surfing. We love sharing family, doing fun and building the RYD Tribe. Make sure you don’t miss out on our product, surf news and people inspiration by signing up for the RYD Newsletter here.