Amy, Chanel, Christi, Nicky and Tanya fly into PE to meet each other, and their splendid pink bus, before setting off for a shopping extravaganza in Jeffrey’s Bay. All slightly apprehensive, each girl holds a different aspiration for the 19-day trip along the coast, excited about the prospect of new places, new people, the road ahead and of course how they’ll all get along.
As ambassadors for Billabong and winners of the country wide Billabong Ambassador Search, the girls are given free rein to grab shoes, clothes and accessories from the Billabong Warehouse. An understandable level of insanity ensues as the girls try on, search, parade and choose their outfits for their tour.
Episode 1 introduces the ambassador girls and the surf team riders, Morag, Adele and Tarryn to each other. A variety of backgrounds and cultures along with eight unique personalities set up interesting group dynamics. As an icebreaker, each girl is put in the hot seat by her fellow travelers and queried, questioned and challenged. We find out who’s bossy, who’s moody, what filthy habits they harbour and what surfers think of the ambassador’s and vice versa. The eagerness of the ambassadors receives a frosty reception from Tarryn, who’s gearing up for the Roxy Wahine Cup and not in the best frame of mind to deal with five new tour mates. Her attitude gives the ambassadors an early glimpse into the pressure and stress associated with competitive surfing, though it might also have something to do with their looks.
With a long stretch of breathtaking coast ahead of them, and miles of close proximity, the ambassadors hope that bridges will be built rather than burnt along the way.
So far the girls have spent 10 days in each other’s company, and while their interaction is becoming easier the group familiarity still has its bumps and twists to negate.
Episode 4 opens at Haga Haga where the pink bus takes a rest en route to P.E. Brimming with new adventure the girls go quad biking, horse riding and Chanel, Adele and Nicky, “Do the Moo at Ninky Noo’s.” A pending radio interview in Port Alfred means a hurried start the following morning. A precarious rusted bridge en route presents a nerve-wracking perch for the girls to sit around and lap up some of the incredible coastline, before pushing on and going on air with Kowie FM.
Still chasing their destination the girls get the bus to pull over for sunset, determined to watch the sun sink below the sea. A playground of wind creased dunes means a swim through a wide icy estuary. Tanya’s refusal to swim with the rest of the girls distances her from the group, it seems Tanya’s lost her enthusiasm for the tour and instead wants to pull out and go home. The extent of her unhappiness surprises most of the girls who meanwhile run, jump and tumble their way across the barren, untouched dunes.
PE gives the ambassadors another chance to practice their surfing, their progress feeding their growing addiction to the sport, while Morag, Christi and Adele get some photos shot at a decrepit train yard.
Following a late night arrival at the Wilderness, the girls are sharing a dorm for the first time and wake to a picture perfect morning view before heading to Plettenberg Bay for a beach activation. The Pro Riders are gleefully waiting for the ambassadors to try their luck at surfing Plett's harsh shore-break, expecting nose-dives, face-plants and general beginner surfer entertainment.
Back at Wilderness the scenic surrounds, dorm sharing and more familiar interaction has started to weave the group into a complimentary mesh of persons and personalities. As Tarryn says, “everyone just got over themselves, and meshed.”
Day 13’s dawn at Wilderness rouses a sleepy group of girls from their slumber for a morning hike to Gericke’s Point. Although deprived of their cell phones for a whole 24 hours, the girls are now a more familiar group, their interaction and friendship almost making their lack of cell phones irrelevant. Even Tanya has perked up after feeling disenchanted in last week’s episode.
Some decent swell prompts the girls to head to Vic Bay for an afternoon surf, apparently variable conditions and the lack of phones are responsible for them not finding their groove. As evening approaches the girls head up to the Map of Africa to enjoy sunset and the spectacular view peppered with paragliders, one of who offers a tandem ride to one of the group. Morag’s explosive enthusiasm earns her the ride, while the other girls watch, happy for her, but brimming with envy.
Amy, Tanya and Chanel are up at dawn on day 14 to catch the early morning light for a fashion shoot along some disused railway tracks, before the pink bus and its occupants push on to Adele’s home town, Mossel Bay. The ambassadors have their best beach activation to date, great weather and progressive surfing leave each girl with that all important ‘stoke’ feeling. Following the beach activation the Pro Riders head to Adele’s local spot, Inner Pool, to grab some waves before heading on to Albertinia for the night.
6am on the farm finds the girls helping out by feeding livestock and milking cows. Idyllic weather and the final few days of the trip inspire the girls to chalk buoyant messages for passing motorists on farm dams, adding a little bit of positive spice to people’s days. Perched on top of the bus outside Koel Bay the group reflects on their trip and on the beauty of South Africa before finding a river and seeing the midday heat away submerged in its cool waters.
As Cape Town and the journey’s end approaches the tour pulls up at Strandfontein where the girls sit atop the limestone cliffs to take in their penultimate sunset together. Amazed by how quickly their time together has seemed to have passed, the girls are somewhat nostalgic on this evening, looking forward to seeing family and friends, captivated by the beauty they’ve experienced and touched by the relationships they’ve formed.
Cape Town, the final destination of the tour, it’s been a long and winding road and with just a couple of days left an air of excitement and nostalgia permeates the group.
The penultimate beach activation and learn to surf lesson takes place at Big Bay on day 16, beginning with a Zumba dance session on the beach. Tarryn's got her own brand of dance, an energetic blend of mistiming, conflicting movements and passion. Tarryn's Dad lends his experience to the surf lessons, and his elementary approach works for the Ambassadors. To further illustrate the method, Adele demonstrates surfing 101, using Morag as a surfboard. The Ambassadors learn that a surfboard will be awarded to the best surfer at the end of the tour, at this stage it looks like Nicky is leading the field as the most improved surfer for the 2009 tour.
Following the Big Bay Beach Activation, the girls decide to climb Table Mountain. Underestimating the climb, the girls take some strain getting to their perch, Amy feeling particularly disenchanted with the difficultly of the trail. Once perched on a ledge overlooking Camps Bay the strains of the walk are quickly forgotten and a sense of calm reflection generates discussion on the state of the planet. Talk of human nature and excess mingled with a heart wrenching view and the dissociation from the humdrum of city life give the girls a sense of self and accountability.
A 4am start on day 17 for an underwater photo shoot in a Belville pool is met with sleepy eyes, though the unique experience and camaraderie of the group makes this shoot a tour highlight. The bus heads to Camps Bay for the final beach activation, an absence of decent waves prompts the girls to head over to Muizenberg for a final surf. Renowned as beginner's paradise, Muizenberg serves up perfect conditions and in so doing plants a perfect cherry on the girls surfing enlightenment.
The girls gather on the unfinished highway above Cape Town for their final morning of the tour, reflecting on where they've been, how they've grown as people and what they've learnt from each other and from their journey. Conversation bounces from the medley of memories, lasting friendships, reminiscence to a deep appreciation for South Africa's heritage and beauty. It's been a memorable trip, one that'll last in memories for a long time, and who's impact will shape thoughts, decisions and actions for each girl as they move into a new decade.