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Who is Gigs Cilliers?

Get to know the WSL’s Oi Rio Pro commentary wildcard from South Africa?

The Oi Rio Pro has experienced the highest number of absentees at an event this year, and possibly of the last few years. Many of the reasons for this have been brushed over, and no one knows quite why Slater isn’t around, or why Parko chose not to surf. We know why Taj isn’t there, as well as Owen and Bede, and Mick’s on holiday, and no one seems too worried anyway, because the event has been going great.

Yet another little sub-story of absenteeism is evident as well, and it’s within the commentary team. The webcast seems a little barren without the informed, silky nasality of Ronnie Blakey as well as the knowledgeable humour of Ross Williams. It was hard to find out why they’re not around, and the best rumour we can come up with is that they needed a break and to be with their family. It’s understandable. The last time I spoke to Pottz he said with a smile on his face that he loved all the traveling but that “it’s just like being on tour again,” which can sometimes take it out of you.

So the commentary team introduced their wildcard for the Oi Rio Pro – South African, Clinton ‘Gigs’ Cilliers.

He’s a kneeboarder.

Does he have the resume?

Oh yes! Let’s take a look.

While the championship Tour has been going great guns, Gigs has been quietly chipping away at webcast duties on the WSL Europe leg, clocking in at a few decent events over the last two years.

He has been commentating the Ballito Pro in Durban for the last few years, and was also one of the commentators at the World Junior Championships.

Gigs was also the man commentating during the shark incident at the JBay Open 2015 with Mick Fanning. On the video you can hear his authoritative voice behind Joel Turpel, ordering the jet-ski crew to get to Fanning’s assistance immediately.

Gigs is a surf shop owner in South Africa, and has been in the business for many years. On top of that, he is a renowned tube hunter, and can put down 23 hard missions to Donkey Bay in his resume as well. He was there from the beginning pretty much.

Gigs is also a wave hound on the East Coast of South Africa, heading up to JBay whenever there’s something good on the radar.

Is he any good on his knees? Oh yes. How does four Kneeboarding World Titles sound?

Kneeboarding has a diverse and interesting past, with names like Goerge Greenough, Steve Lis and Simon Farrer probably the most renowned in the sports’ history, but Gigs is right up there as one of the most prolific and competitive, and when it comes down to it, he fits in quite comfortably with the ‘waterman’ moniker.

He was the other half of the tow-boarding team with Jason Ribbink when the sport started picking up speed in South Africa, and was part of the crazy adventure that these two put together to try and ride a phantom wave off the coast of Transkei in 2005. It was part of the hunt for the 100ft wave (Remember the Billabong Odyssey?), and ‘transfer waves’ in excess of 100ft had been measured breaking in the area.

They waited for the biggest storm in 50 years, and located to a spot where there was a huge bulge in the continental shelf in deep-ocean. They didn’t get the big one, but survived with a helluva tale. Ribbink takes up the story.

“We jumped out the helicopter into this massive, swirling ocean. Gigs first, and then they dropped the ski. It was wild out there, but hard to line things up. When we realized that it wasn’t going to happen and aborted the mission I was picked up by the chopper and immediately found myself in trouble in the big winds, so Gigs decided against that route and headed for land with the ski,” said Ribbink of that adventure.

“The last thing he said to me was ‘if I lose you, I’ll be at the Wild Coast Casino by 7 drinking beers”

cigs-comm-lead-2

Unfortunately Gigs couldn’t find a way through the pounding surf, and after being adrift for over 4 hours, he eventually chanced it, in the dark, between 15-foot sets crashing down on the cliffs through a spot that looked like a little gap in the whitewater. He found himself in a lagoon. There he found a cluster of fishing cottages and borrowed a cell phone to phone in his location, and was picked up safe and sound.

So the man has been around, and his commentating at Oi Rio Pro has been worthy, despite using a few South Africanisms here and there eg. “He’s got two good scores so now he can be ‘picking the berries’ so to speak,” which is a South African saying, meaning ‘choosing the good ones and leaving the rest.’

When we asked him about his ‘gig’ in Rio (did you see what we did there?) he responded by saying, “simply soaking up the scene and concentrating on the top layer of the sport is easy for all of us who love surfing so much.”

Good enough for us.

Catch him on the Oi Rio Pro webcast here

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