Share |


The Natal Mercury, November 5, 1964

This picture...

The correct way to surf is to be smooth and functional.

This is the opinion of Max Wetteland - an opinion which has made him many bad friends in Durban. But he continues to stress the point because he is convinced that he is right and that "functional" surfing is the best thing for surfers in South Africa.

Surfboard riding and Max Wetteland are synonymous. This 26-year-old married professional lifesaver has done more than any other individual to promote surfing in Durban.

Wetteland, who spends most of his waking hours surfing, or thinking and talking about surfing, and who probably dreams about it, knows more about the theory and practice of the sport than anyone else in the country.

But to him it is not a sport - it is an art.


In May this year Wetteland represented South Africa at a world surfing contest at Sydney's Manley Beach in Australia. He was the only non-American or non-Australian to reach the semi-finals.

But that is not so important. It is what he learnt during his brief stay in "Aussie" that matters. He brought back ideas and concepts about surfing which were completely unknown in this country.

And these new concepts he has tried to put into practice and impart to his fellow surfers. Since his return, the standard of surfing in Durban has leaped forward.


New manoeuvres, various styles, methods of building boards and radical surfboard designs - Wetteland went out of his way to find out and absorb everything about surfing in Australia.

He had long talks with American Phil Edwards and Australian "Midget" Farrelly. He watched them surf and asked them why they did the things

How To Lose Friends And Influence Surfers

This picture...

they did. And that is how Wetteland learnt about "functional" surfing.

At first he did not understand it but gradually he grasped what it was all about. And now he feels: "A smooth, functional style is what Durban surfers should strive for because this is what makes surfing an art."

In Australia he learnt the theory of "functional" surfing. Edwards and Farrelly told him how to adapt his riding to the mood of the sea, to ride smoothly and never do anything unnecessarily.


They told him that the important thing was to maintain control at all times but always to strive to stay in the "hottest" section of the wave. And to do all this with smooth, functional manoeuvres.

When he returned to South Africa, Wetteland tried to put the theory into practice and he tried to impart what he had learnt to local surfers.

At first he failed. He found that he was not riding any better and his "functional" theory was scoffed at by many other surfers.

"I made a lot of bad friends among other surfers because they thought I was trying to get too technical and that I had got a swollen hear since I had been to Australia.


"But I was convinced that I was right. 'Functional' surfing had been accepted as they way of judging international contests.
"In my own surfing I was not
putting into practice what I had learnt. Now gradually I am learning to read the surf properly and to surf more functionally."

Many surfers still do not agree with "functional" surfing but the improvement in those who have been converted is very noticeable.

Local surfers often approach Wetteland and tease him about his surfing theories. they sometimes ask him to define the difference between a "functional nose-ride" and an "aggressive nose-ride." "This shows that they haven't grasped even the fundamentals of 'functional' surfing," he says.


This sun-bronzed lifesaver has been riding a surfboard since he was 10. He has been a professional lifesaver for four years and was a member of the Springbok lifesaving team which toured Britain in 1962. He is a life member of the Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club.

Wetteland feels that the standard of surfing in South Africa has risen somewhat in the past six months, but is still very much lower than in the United States and Australia. He has some strong comments and sound advice about surfing here.

"Most Durban surfers to not know what they are doing," he says. "All they worry about is what they look like on a wave. If they have a pair of 'baggies' and ride their boards spectacularly they are happy."

He feels that local surfers should concentrate on learning to control their boards before they try to


A general meeting of the Natal Surf Riders' Association will be held at the Kingsmead Club, New Kingsmead ground, at 8 p.m. on Monday, November 16. Everyone interested in surfing is urged to attend.



MAX WETTELAND (left)..... and surfing are synonymous in Durban


develop a style. "Most of them are making the same mistake I made when I returned from Australia."


Wetteland feels that the formation of surfing clubs in Durban and along the coast is an excellent idea. He was instrumental in forming the Natal Surf Riders' Association, and feels that once some measure of control is exercised the standard of surfing will improve rapidly.

His one plea to surfers is that they create a good image of the sport. "Prove to the public that surfing is a good solid sport," he urges.

And what is Max Wetteland's personal ambition? Like so many keen surfers the world over, his dearest wish is to go to Hawaii and surf at all the famous spot.


Get the Flash Player to see this player.