Kevin Williams was fed up. An active sportsman, he would wake up early on Saturdays to go spearfishing, only to get home and find his sons playing video games. “They were getting more and more into PlayStation, and less and less willing to go out on weekends,” he says.
He could not have imagined, at the time, that his frustration would lead to his children representing South Africa at their new sport, and one becoming a world champion.
Kevin, who own Vimar Timbers in Durban, is a Dolphin Bay client. His story will sound familiar to many parents. “It felt like we were getting trapped at home,” he says. “I could just see things spiralling.” He tried everything to get the kids active. “We bought mountain bikes, surfboards, spearfishing equipment, snorkelling gear … all sorts,” he says. Nothing seemed to hold the boys’ interest. Then Kevin found a Waveski online.
Waveskis – like the paddle skis of the 1980s – are a type of surfboard that lets the rider sit on top and ride waves. “I’d had a paddle ski as a kid, but for me, it was a case of taking the thing to the dam or the river or the beach and riding the tiniest waves because that’s all you could really do,” he says. “I had no idea what the guys could do on these new Waveskis.”
After a false start (“I bought a board off Facebook, but it was way too big,” Kevin laughs), the family found Viking Waveskis, a company just around the corner from their home in KwaZulu-Natal. But then came a second hurdle. “We bought second-hand Waveskis for Christmas 2020, but South Africa was in lockdown,” he says. “The beaches were closed, so the boys couldn’t use their boards until February.”
Both Kai (Grade 10) and Trent (Grade 7) represented South Africa at the World Waveski Surfing titles in California, where Kai became world champion in the cadet division, with Trent chomping at his heels.
However, from there, the boys were hooked. “They’re each on their third boards now, and they’re loving it!” he says. “Every weekend it’s a case of, ‘What time are we going to the beach?’ They started to compete in the KZN and regional open competitions and before they knew it, they were at the SA Champs.” Both Kai (Grade 10) and Trent (Grade 7) ended 2022 representing South Africa at the World Waveski Surfing Titles in California, where Kai became the world champion in the cadet division with Trent chomping at his heels, hundreds of people cheering for them at the beach.
For Kevin, that two-year journey proves the value of putting time and effort into the things you love doing. “I’ve watched both of them grow,” he says. “They’ll be out on the waves three hours at a time, strapped to their boards. They’re like any kid. They have cell phones, and they do a bit of YouTubing or whatever, but as a parent, you don’t mind that if they’ve spent the morning out being active.”
“Kevin’s story is an inspiration for everybody,” says Bertus. “It shows the power of not giving up. If you’re not good at something, try something else. Kevin eventually found a sport that his sons not only liked but excelled at. I think a lot of us struggle with this. Try, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t push it. Try something new!”
It also shows the importance of active parenting. “You get absent parenting, where parents are disconnected from their children,” says Bertus. “Then you get parents who are actively involved and invested in their kids’ lives. That’s so important. Kai and Trent are now among the Waveski champions of the world.
“This story of perseverance is inspiring for all of us.”