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The Fajtata Classic 2021

Wayne Botha Fajtata Classic
We had a brilliant time at the Fajtata Classic 2021... read all about it here!

In a year where it even became illegal to surf at one stage (I know, lol), it had been a while since our local shores had seen a competition organised. At last, all the stars aligned in October 2021 for us to enjoy the Fajtata Classic 2021.

Surf Coach Valerio threw all this incredible energy behind this competition and it was a barrel of laughs, with surfers from all over the world taking part.

In all 18 surfers took to the waves that day, wowing judges, locals and passers-by with some neat twists, turns and awesome displays. 

BOMBA, repped by yours truly, was also invited to judge the event – which was entirely new to me, but something I enjoyed as it offered me a deeper perspective on the competitive side of the sport. Judging was fun and importantly, consistent. Local surfer Mark Bencini was the Head Judge and he passed on his wisdom to his loyal subjects to ensure fair and equal judging throughout the day.

Sunday 24th October saw us all descend to the sleepy but gorgeous seaside town of Marsascala, and well, we were hardly discreet with reggae music pumping and Valerio hyping up the crowd and competitors using his trademark megaphone. My ears are still ringing as he also used his foghorn as a time-warning for the surfers.

We’ll feature Fajtata in Episode Two, as we did Ghajn Tuffieha in the first, but for now, we’ll give you a peek at the conditions on the day: They were excellent for a surfing classic, with a light breeze and good swell. The day was slightly overcast, which at least kept us from frying in the sun.

Cicco Surf School organised awesome prizes for the top three and goodie bags for all the competitors, which included an awesome traditional ftira to keep them going.

Matteo Saccardi in action. Photo by Raffaela

The heats

The early heats saw four surfers take to the sea simultaneously, each wearing a different coloured rashy. Judges had to be chameleon eyed to see them rack up points, and you could see from the get-go that the standard was going to be high. 

As we rolled through the day, we combed through talent, leaving the top four apart in the semi-finals, held on two heats with two surfers each:

  • Mark Bencini v Thomas Carraro
  • Wayne Botha v Matteo Saccardi

Scoring these was intense as the pressure was on and the semis were brilliant. We saw different approaches from the surfers who tried to use the length of the bay to gain vantage points on incoming waves.

Coming in third place was the Italian prodigy, Matteo Saccardi. He surfed exceptionally well on the day but was outmuscled by Thomas Carraro. Thomas overcame Mark in the first heat so the stage was set for the final: Wayne v Thomas.

Your Fajtata Classic 2021 runner-up: Thomas Carraro. Photo by Raffaela

The Fajtata Final

This was truly nail-biting. Two exhausted surfers faced a sudden change in conditions as the wind’s angle altered slightly, reducing the swell and making it more challenging. An Italian against a South African, both with huge grins as they headed to the line-up.

Judging this one was fun as both had terrific runs to the final and deserved their spot in the final. On the occasion, it was the South African who stole the show and got up on more waves. He stacked a higher overall score after one particularly excellent set with no less than three sharply executed tight turns. His biggest set was only his second wave in this heat but Thomas could not match that high score which brought the average higher.

Believe it or not, that day was Wayne’s first time ever surfing in this spot and he told us afterwards that even if “the waves weren’t that great in the end it was an awesome setup.” 

He took home a sweet new Olaian surfboard, much to the delight of his son who gratefully accepted it as a gift from his papa. “It’s all about the family,” he said, laughing.

His family and friends were there to cheer him on, while the talented photographer Raffaela was on hand to snap the surf.

Second prize was equally awesome as Thomas went away with a poncho and leash from Decathlon Malta. Matteo bagged a leash and more confidence as he continues to impress on the local scene.

Final standings

  1. Wayne Botha
  2. Thomas Carraro
  3. Matteo Saccardi
  4. Mark Bencini

When the long, fun day was over, as pooped as we all were, we still had the energy to hoist our champion upon our shoulders. I then had the honour of spraying him, and some crowd members with prosecco… Some say they are still soaking to this day.

Well done to the organisers, surfers and the crowd… bring on the next Fajtata Classic!

The Fajtata Classic 2021 winner: Wayne Botha. Photo by Raffaela

Special thanks

Big up to Cicco for organising such a cool day, Raffaela for the amazing shots, and Mark Bencini for being the Head Judge on the day.

Decathlon Malta also chipped in massively, supporting the event with top prizes, surf wax and good vibes.

Teresa of Fajtata Kiosk, who you should all know by now, provided the rocket fuel for the surfers: incredible traditional ftajjar. If you haven’t tried them yet, just get yourself down there with an appetite.

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