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Surfer Dad on the good things in life

Renowned for turning heads when he paddles out to sea with his equally wave-crazy ‘fur kids’, Morningside surfer Brandon Ribbink shares his love for the important things in life – family, fatherhood and the beautiful outdoors.

A former surf llifesaving Springbok and a stand up paddleboard champ, Brandon Ribbink (or Bones as he is more affectionately known) is at least a decade or two older than most water sport enthusiasts he’s shared the podium with. But since he has been surfing since he was seven years old, his passion for the ocean runs deep.

As a long standing member of the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club, Brandon has been coaching and facilitating ocean experiences for youngsters who have gone on to excel in various water sports. ‘My brother Jason also earned his Springbok surfing colours in the ‘90s and, it’s only fair to say, we owe our passion for the surf and our success to my dad Biff, who earned his Springbok lifesaving colours in the ‘80s and became an African vets surfing champ in 2000.’

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Much like he is today, Biff was proud of his youngsters and always wanted what was best for them. ‘He never spared any effort in introducing us to a healthy lifestyle and exciting adventures and he enjoyed them with us, whether it was on a board or behind the lens capturing the moments for us. As he’s got older we don’t share as many waves together but I try to do an outing with him once or twice a week. Dad also always backed the underdog. He taught us to race to the end, never settling until it was over. The very same things he taught us are what I am thankful and privileged for acquiring, and are what I focus on and enjoy today.’

Recalling his childhood, Brandon says he was never one for rebellion. He obeyed the rules, remembered his manners and respected everybody, especially adults.

‘My folks raised us well. My dad always taught me to go after what I wanted in life. He told me the sky was the limit and that I should race as though I could beat anyone. Most importantly, he taught me to believe in myself.’

As a self-dubbed lifesaving entrepreneurial with a bias towards a lifestyle of  water sports and the outdoors, Brandon understands the importance of a healthy balance between work and doing what you love, even if it means hitting the beach before the sun rises. It’s no surprise then that even if the weather looks a little bleak, Brandon, his gorgeous wife Dany and their beautiful brood – thirteen-year-old Jaxon, fifteen-year-old Ben, and Jody, who’s eighteen, spend as much of their spare time together on their favourite playground, Durban’s beachfront.

‘As a family we’re passionate about being in the surf on all sorts of craft, ranging from the four foot board my brother surfed at J-Bay to nine foot longboards and 10.6 foot paddleboards, or a variety of other personal watercraft including the traditional surf boat my dad swept. We try surf whenever there are waves, or none to speak of, so I always have a board and paddle in the car. I try to get a surf or SUP session in at least half an hour each day, sometimes with the dogs, Diesel (a boxer) and Fiji (a dachshund), or a surfski paddle with Dany. If conditions are not inviting then we enjoy a bike ride on the promenade. One cannot put a price tag on this because we cannot get our time back, so I consider myself (us) all very fortunate to be able to do these kinds of things together.’

Brandon says he works hard at the important things in life: providing for his family; love; lifestyle and  happiness. He says often the most enjoyable days are those with simple pleasures and that happiness comes from ensuring the important things in his life are well-loved. His approach to parenting is very similar.

‘I love my wife and I adore my kids. I love the fact that all three of them display pieces of our characters, although sometimes I wish it was only the good parts,’ he laughs. ‘I try to ignore subliminal questions about my kid’s futures. Will they be happy, clever, surf? It’s impossible to predict, so why worry. Instead, I put all my energy into learning and laughing together, today. Every time I have that warm fuzzy feeling on a wave, behind a boat, on a bike or behind the wheel of a car on a track, I’m so grateful that my dad exposed me to such cool things and I like to think my kids will one day feel the same about me.’

‘As for what makes a great dad? Well, lots of prayer and dedication I think!’

Photo credit:
Penny Katz Photography
[email protected]
083 214 0692

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