Eli Beukes may be a relatively recent name on the global surfing stage, but the South African surfing community has been watching him develop into a world-class talent since he was a boy.
Growing up in Lambert's Bay, a few hours north of Cape Town on South Africa’s wild west coast, he was introduced to surfing by his father, Pete, and the two quickly bonded over the sport. Life was simple in the quiet fishing town, where professional surfing wasn’t really a thing. A few South African pros would come up to score waves now and then, but for the most part it was just something that Eli and a couple of his friends did when they could sneak away for a frothy afternoon.
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Eli didn’t fully dive into the surf pursuit until the family moved to Cape Town, where a home close to the beach made it easier to get into the waves. There was no high school in Lambert's at the time, so the Beukes had family moved to Kommetjie in search of schooling for Eli and his sister.
A small, quiet suburb of Cape Town, Kommetjie has grown up a bit in the past 10 years, although it still maintains its community roots. It has also arguably become the heart of the Cape Town surf scene, at least in terms of big, quality waves. The village is home to one of the best beach breaks in the area, a number of reefy slabs, and the trifecta of South African big wave surfing — Crayfish Factory, Sunset Reef, and Dungeons.
Suddenly surrounded by a bunch of kids his age who not only surfed, but actually ripped, Eli was motivated and threw himself into surfing. He improved quickly and it wasn’t long before he started turning heads in free surfs and at local events. Inspired by Cape Town talents like Mikey February, Brenden Gibbons, and Jordy Smith, as well as the core crew of Kommetjie chargers, Eli was quickly earning his own place in the lineup as he became known for big turns, bigger airs, and his fearless approach in heavy barrels.
Fast-forward a few years, and Eli is now considered by many to be South Africa’s best up-and-coming talent. Legendary Cape Town photographer Alan Van Gysen has been watching and filming Beukes since he was a grom and reckons he’s the real deal. And after doing a few trips with him this past year, we can’t see any reason to disagree.
Eli isn’t exactly sure yet what he wants his career to look like. Only 21 years old, he’s already proven himself competitively, but doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as being strictly a contest guy. He spends a lot of time free surfing and stacking clips along the west coast near his childhood home of Lambert's, and has recently begun putting together edits that, quite frankly, are pretty mind-blowing.
That’s fortunate for all of us who are fans of good surfing, of course. Eli’s career is just getting started, and with so many good waves within driving distance of his home, we are likely to see a lot more out of him over the next couple of years — whether it’s in a jersey or edits like the one he dropped a couple of months back. Either way, everyone seems to be winning with Eli in the water.