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Kiwi surfer’s second home

International surfer Ricardo Christie has been staying with a local family for the past five years when the Ballito Pro is on.

It is nothing new for New Zealand surfer Ricardo Christie surfing in the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, in fact it feels like a second home.

This is because he has been staying with the local Sykes family for the past five years.

The 26-year-old Christie said it has been fun staying with Shane Sykes and seeing him grow up over the past few years.

“Our parents got to know each other through the Hewitt family who was from South Africa, but now lives in New Zealand,” said Christie.

“When I first started staying with the Sykes family, my friends and I always chucked Shane into the boot when we went for a surf. He was just this little kid always stoked to get in the water.”

He said Sykes has grown up a lot and already noticed the improvement in the water.

“He’s surfing like a man now! He looks pretty deadly if you ask me,” said Christie about the 18-year-old’s surfing repertoire.

Fast forward five years and now Sykes competed in the Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong in order to clinch a spot in the main event, but unfortunately came up against a strong field of Brazilians and our local boy will have to wait another year to surf a World Qualifying Series event on home surf.

But Christie said Sykes is still young with lots of time to compete.

“There is no rush to start competing full time so he can really just enjoy surfing right now,” said Christie.

Sykes said whenever Christie would come and stay with them and they go for a surf, he would push his limits in the water.

“Surfing with him and the other older guys just gave me like a confidence boost in my surfing,” said Sykes.

As growing surfers need to refuel every now and then, Shaun Cross from Jack Salmon in Salt Rock said they will be sponsoring meals for the two surfers.

“We know the Sykes family really well and since Ricardo Christie is pretty much part of the family already, the guys can come anytime for a decent meal and a good time,” said Cross.

And as travelling halfway across the world for a surf event can become quite costly, Christie sums up the free chow as “Yeah! Sick! Dinner!”

He is currently ranked 26th on the World Championship Tour and his best performance this year has been an equal fifth in the Oi Rio Pro.

“Ballito usually has some really fun waves and I look forward to surfing in the event again this year.”

After the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, Christie will compete in the J-Bay Open in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape.

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