July 2017 - I arrived in Durban on a full moon and the time difference made it so I woke up very early. That made it easy to enjoy the sunrises and get a dawn patrol in. I would be in South Africa for a month not just to surf and sight see but to solidify myself as one of the top 100 surfers in the world before the half way point in the competitive surf season. It started off well in Durban with a 17th and then I had a little break before my next competition in Cape Town
I got set up with someone in Port Elizabeth who offered to host and take me to Jeffreys Bay. I was surprised to find out he was a pro who competed on the Qualifying Series and knew everything about surfing in South Africa. My host dropped me off at J-Bay and I got three days of epic powerful rights.
The last day was pumping and Jordy Smith showed up. He was ripping the long offshore walls and adjusting well from Fiji. That session came to a close, as I needed to catch a flight to Cape Town. It was cutting it somewhat close for my competition the next day and as open happens traveling in Africa the flight was delayed. Luckily I had a distant cousin in Cape Town and he was there to swoop me from the airport later that night. I woke up and went straight to the contest in Cape Town at a spot called Melbokstrand. The waves were pumping as I showed up and I felt right at home, as it reminded me of a spot I grew up surfing in Northern Santa Barbara County. I made my first heat but got edged out of the contest with a third place in the next heat to my friend Manuel Selman; I placed 17th again. From there I explored Cape Town with my cousin who was a wonderful host. We walked up to Lions Head near Table Mountain and also explored some parks and coastal zones. From there I caught a flight to Durban and started practicing for the Ballito Pro. I stayed about a mile and half from the contest at a local bed and breakfast. The family running the the place was very kind and helped me out with rides and cooking meals. I was a little nervous to compete in my first 10000 event. I knew if I stayed focused I could do good. I made my first heat in some sloppy challenging conditions. I went from second place to third as Yadin Nicol caught a epic left and went from third to first. That was right at the end of heat but luckily I caught one more wave and had one hit on the outside and then put everything I had into a tail blow on the inside. I pulled it but didn't do a full 360. As I came in to the beach I had a wave of emotions run thru me. I gave it my best but felt as though I failed and didn't capitalize on my opportunity and the announcer said looks like the standings will stay the same. Then I saw Parker Coffin, Ryan Perry and the Moniz bros and they thought I got the score I needed. The announcer came back on and said wait we are still waiting for last score for Kilian Garland and it's going to be close. I was very surprised and I needed a 5.7 and the score came in at a 6.02 I think. I was so stoked and shouted yes as I ran up the beach! It had been awhile since I got the score at the buzzer like that. The next heat I would face two past and one current Championship Tour surfers. It started off with me waiting for what seemed like a long time. No waves were coming but I had a feeling I was in a good spot in the lineup. A set rolled after like 8 minutes and it looked like a close out. I figured it was time to just start going on any waves that came to me. Sure enough the wave turned into a great double up and threw out a nice barrel. I came out the doggie door and did some body language claim. The other surfers were staying busy and getting scores. The judges took a little while to drop my score and I began to think it wouldn't be worth much. Then the announcer said greens score comes in at a 7.0 and so I backed it with a couple turns a decent wave. Then I was in second place and needed to use my priority so I sat on the surfer in third. It was huge to make this heat for points and was great to compete against guys on the CT level. I eventually went down in my next heat looking for a mid range 5. The tide was coming up and I missed a couple waves without priority. I finished 25th and was stoked to take back 1100 points towards qualifying. My standings after SA were around top 80 so it was a successful mission. I want to say thanks to those who helped me get this contest and everything prior. I'm so grateful for the kindness from my friends, family and strangers along the road as well as the continued support of my sponsors! - Kilian Garland
Photos by Lily Turner, Kilian Garland and the World Surf League