Neil Webster is standing in front of Yuriah who is seated on a bench that’s been made from a snapped 10ft surfboard. “So!” Begins Neil, looking into the eye piece as he focusses his camera. “How’s your day been?” Yuriah looks ‘sheepish.’ “I got to sleep pretty early this morning, we had a little party in town. When you’re on the farm all day, you also want to see the city lights. ”Webster smiles. “How old are you and what do you do?” He asks. “I’ m 30. I’m a farmer with wool, honey and cattle.” Answers the smiling Yuriah in a distinctive Afrikaans accent. “How long have you been surfing big waves?”Asks Neil. “Well, I first came to Cape Town in 2013 to try the big waves here. I had met some of the older guys at Still Baai over the years so knowing them made it easier for me somehow. I looked up to them, but I also thought, if they can do it, then I can do it too.”
Webster scratches his chin and looks into the eye piece again as he asks. “You’re part of the new guard. How’s the brotherhood vibe out there in the big waves?” Yuriah answers thoughtfully. “It was difficult. I had a fear of the wave, and the older guys were intimidating. I’d sit close, then get told to move down. I remember one time trying to shadow one of the guys because he was always on the good ones. He didn’t like it. But then I had a few big wipe outs and found my spot. There’s definitely a hierarchy though. The older guys sit on the peak, but like anything in life, you slowly work your way up. Webster knows the older guys Yuriah is referring to.
He’s known some of them for more than 20 years. “How are they on land?” He asks with genuine curiosity, wanting to know how this new comer is experiencing them. “They’re different on the land.” Says Yuriah. “They’re much nicer. After a couple of beers, everyone is happy. ”Webster gets a mischievous twinkle in his eye and asks. “So the guys talk to you now, you’re a part of their crew?” The shepherd continues with his train of thought, then loses it completely. “Surfing other waves helped me more, not one specific wave changed that.....I’ m confused now, I forgot your question? (Laughs)” Webster asks him the question again. “Oh ja!” He says and smiles broadly. “In the beginning I was trying to prove a point and going on anything. The guys helped me though. They’d say, ‘ease up!’ and then later on they tend to.....ag no my english is kuk now! Let’s just move on.” (Laughter) Still chuckling Neil asks. “Are you scared when it’s big?” Yuriah looks serious for a moment and answers. “I’ m super scared normally, ja very scared, even at 12 -15ft it’s scary. I feel scared in the build-up and prepare the best I can....but when you get there on the day and it’s all square again.” He laughs easily as he talks. “I had a bad wipe out during those first few sessions in 2013. It’s always at the back of mind now that it can happen again. I had to re-evaluate if I wanted to really do this, but I decided to just train harder and be more prepared. I did double the running, double the training. I used to be a triathlete and runner so I’ve always trained. I trained to hold my breath and learned to stay calm. It’s difficult to stay calm when you feel the power of those waves.” Webster is on the home straight now. “What do you think of this Rebel Sessions concept where rides from the whole winter are evaluated by a panel of judges? Do you prefer it to a one day contest?” Yuriah taps the top of the old surfboard that he’s sitting on. “It keeps the guys sharp, motivated and inspired. I get really inspired because I get to learn a lot and meet new people. Just the vibe and celebrating surfing. I try not to think about the competition too much.” Webster has a last question. “What do you think about water safety?” Yuriah looks serious again. “It saved my life that one day. We need more guys with skis. Right now it’s just the older guys doing it, but there are young guys who want to help out too.”