The local surfing community is in mourning following the death of a local surfing veteran hailed by many as one of the country’s pioneers for the sport.

Shorty Bronkhorst died in Jeffreys Bay this past weekend. He was 73 years old.

According to the Weekend Post Online, Shorty began surfing in the summer of 1949 in Durban and was still doing it more than 50 years later at Super Tubes and Surfers Point. While working as a professional lifesaver in Durban, he surfed on 5m boards made out of plywood.

In 1956, at the age of 19, Shorty and a friend hitchhiked their way across Africa and eventually ended up in London. In the UK, he began building surfboards and was eventually invited to do promotions for a travel company. “Big tour buses full of spectators arrived to watch Bronkhorst and his friends from the long breakwater,” reports the Weekend Post. They were soon dubbed the “Hawaiian surferboard riders from South Africa”.

Shorty was a big advocate of keeping surfing a ‘noble’ sport. “We should try to keep it that way. Tell the youngsters to be polite in the water. Show some respect towards others and you will be appreciated much more than if you just drop in on everybody else,” he said.

“It’s unnecessary to sneak around the waiting surfers and catch a sly wave. Rather just get in line and wait your turn. The guys will think more of you if you do so.”

He is survived by his son Glen and daughters Kim and Lisa.

This coming Saturday, November 28, there will be a paddle-out at Surfer’s Point in Jeffreys Bay (Shorty’s home for the last 15 years) in honour of Shorty. All his friends are invited to participate. His ashes will be scattered in the sea off the beach where he did most of his surfing.