Exploring Madagascar

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South African Surf Young Gun Slade Prestwich and Friends Find New Waves

in ‘Exploring Madagascar’

In late March 2015 – at the height of the Indian Ocean monsoon season – Slade Prestwich, Grant Baker and Frank Solomon travelled to an isolated part of Madagascar in search of new surf spots. It was an expedition way out of their comfort zones, but the results were worth the hardship. Exploring Madagascar, a production by Red Bull Media House realized by Whitestone Productions, is their story and it will premiere for the first time on South African TV on Sunday, 6 December at 19:30 on SABC3.

For young professional surfer Slade Prestwich, who won the JBU Supertrial earlier this year to gain entry into the only WSL event on African soil, the JBay Open, the trip was a

revelation. “I’ve never actually done a trip like this where you have to camp, put up your own tents and sleep in the rain so it’s been kind of cool,” he said, admitting how he’d learned a lot from his more experienced travel companions, Baker and Solomon. And about himself… “There have been a few tough nights, but I kind of understand now that if something bad happens you just have to enjoy it because these chances don’t come around very often,” he said.

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and lies only some 400 kilometres off the

Southeast coast of Africa. Eons of isolated evolution have shaped its unique ecosystem and around 80% of the island’s 10 000 plant species are endemic, as are 107 of its 258 bird species. The oceans teem too, with 56 species of shark having been identified.

It is a short flight from South Africa to the capital Antananarivo, so the more accessible areas in the south have been well explored. There are various known surf spots with tour operators running trips to these. Much of its 4800 kilometres of coastline remains wild and untamed however, particularly the north-east. The crew, armed only with Google maps imagery, marine charts and some intuition, had very little idea of what to expect. With the help of a skilled local captain and some travellers luck they returned from track-less jungles, rivers teeming with crocodiles and sharky Indian Ocean reef passes with this story…

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