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OUR PEOPLE: Wendy Botha


East London pro surfer Wendy Botha is a former world surf champion who dominated women's surfing during the late 1980s and early 1990s, capturing the title four times between 1987 and 1992.

Her seven wins in 1989 remain a single-season record.


A former Hudson Park High School pupil, Wendy started surfing at Nahoon Reef in 1978, when she was 13 years old.

She won four consecutive South African National Championship titles from 1981 to 1984 and turned pro in 1985, finishing the season ranked seventh in the world and winning rookie-of-the-year honours.


Two years later she won the first three events of the year and cruised to her first world title.


Wendy became an Australian citizen in 1989, moving to the Sydney beachfront suburb of Avalon, partly to avoid sanctions placed on South African athletes and also because there were virtually no women sparring partners in her home country.


The change suited her - she won seven of 12 events on the 1989 tour and cruised easily to her second world title.


Slight but strong, she was known for throwing her board and body into risky manoeuvres, a habit that led to four knee surgeries during the course of her pro career.



She was voted women’s division winner in the annual Surfer Poll awards in 1990, 1991, and 1993.

She won her fourth and final world title in 1992 , and retired after the 1993 season.


In 1995, she was featured, along with four other champion women surfers, in a well-crafted documentary called Surfer Girl.

"Just that little bit of aggression,” the stylish blond-haired Botha said on camera, describing her rise to the top of her profession.


Somebody would say to me, ‘Hey, off my wave!’ and I'd go, "Yeah? Up yours!’ and off I'd go. As shy as | was at times, once I hit the surf it was just- get out of my way.”


She has appeared in a small number of surf movies and videos, including Gripping Sauff (1987) and Oz on Fire (1991).


In 2019, she was inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in recognition of her incredible lifetime achievements.


She is also a member of the prestigious Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, having been inducted in 2009 as that year's Woman of the Year.

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