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Sat, 1 August 2020

A new era is upon us - today, the first heat in the South African edition of the digital Surf Web Series, the Rip Curl E-Pro, goes live on the @surfopenleague Instagram handle!


slider-zaf

DIGISCAPE: Fascinating how Covid-19 has brought about such a change of mindset. Photo E-PRO


The brainchild of Gustavo Duccini – a Brazilian surf promoter and event organiser based in Mexico – the Surf Web Series saw its first digital event take place in Puerto Escondido in Mexico a short while ago. Out of the success of that event grew the idea of a world tour. South African is the next ‘stop’ and will be followed by Japanese and Australian comps.

The format is fairly simple: Surfers enter single rides in video clip format, as entry into a heat. Each heat has either two, three or four surfers in each heat. The clips are edited into a heat format, and the heat is played out before experienced judges.

The South African judging panel is made up of ISA head judge Cyril Nel, ISA head judge Bongani Xulu, ISA judge Johno Hutchison and SSA head judge Dillan Lowenthal. The Fifth judge is the public vote where the public can vote, and this is where you come in - you have the opportunity to vote for your favourite surfer in the heat by tagging their name in the comments section under the Instagram post.

Joshe-Faulkner

ONE-WAVE-WONDER: Joshe Faulkner smashes one off the top at Supertubes. Photo Kody McGregor


As in a ‘traditional’ surf event, the top two surfers advance to the next heat, where they have to enter another single wave clip. Strategy will no doubt come into play as it gets to the later rounds, with surfers choosing to hold onto the better clips, or not…

The event will run over a period of two weeks and waves filmed within the borders of the country from The format is non-restrictive, meaning any surfer could enter regardless of pro status1 March 2019 up to 25 July are eligible. In other words the surfers and filters have already done all the work!

Serious stuff, but not so serious at all. The philosophy behind the contest is all about having fun, while serving to provide some valuable coverage for surfers and their sponsors in a time when nothing is happening in South Africa, indeed the world, in the way of surf tournaments. The format is non-restrictive, meaning any surfer could enter regardless of pro status, sponsors, image, social media etc. Performance is all that counts.

Because of the video entry, you are highly unlikely to see any grovelling in small waves, no onshore conditions (unless they’re super puntable), and no desperate compulsory whitewater turns to try squeeze an extra 0.5. Expect to see surfers charging, boosting and laying it on the rail in powerful combos. Oh and barrels of course. Gaping barrels are going to be scored highly.

Shane-Sykes

VIDEO ANGLES: Rides like this by Shane Sykes could be up for the tube award. Photo Dean Vincent


The spoils on offer

The SA event features 48 men and 8 women with equal prize money across the categories to a total of R40 000. There are also speciality prizes on offer, such a R10 000 Red Bull Best Tube Award (for any barrel submitted into the event) as well as R10k worth of Oakley eyewear up for grabs.

The Rip Curl E-Pro Women’s event came about with support from the Kouga Municipality and from Rip Curl. August is Women’s Month in South Africa and this is what prompted Councillor Williams and the Kouga Municipality decided to get behind the event. The waves and the surfers of JBay and environs will play a big part in the virtual tournament. Entries include top-rated women surfers like Zoe Steyn (EL) and Ceara Knight from Cape Town. Faye Zoetmulder will be representing the Kouga Region, and Anastasia Venter, the 13-year-old from Cape Town’s West Coast has entered.

On the men’s side it is a mix of young and old, pro and not-so-pro. Expect to see the likes of Chad du Toit, Davey Van Zyl, Dale Staples, Shane Sykes, Luke Slijpen, Surprise Maphumulo, Bryce Du Preez and Joshe Faulkner, as well as Mike Frew, Warwick Heny, to name a few. The event would not be possible if it weren’t for the very valuable support of the various sponsors (some of which have already been mentioned), such as Rip Curl, online surf store – Shaka Surf – that sells beautiful surfboard fins from recycled materials through their online store.

www.wavescape.co.za is the official media partner. The contest is powered TCS-WiFi and The Computer Shop, who have rigged the event head office with high-speed WiFi.

Bryce-du-Preez

CUTBACK BY VIDEO: Bryce du Preez is in the mix for some sublime surfing. Photo Pierre de Villiers


Where to from here?

The future for the format is bright and the tour founders and event organisers are committed to introducing a Women’s standalone tour soon, along with a Longboard Tour, Big Wave Tour and Bodyboard Tour.

More details

The Rip Curl E-Pro is supported by Surfing South Africa. Surfing South Africa is the recognised governing body for the sport in South Africa and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the African Surfing Confederation (ASC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

The heats start running on 1 August and will be hosted on the Surf Open League Instagram account - @surfopenleague

When the event begins, the heats can also be viewed on the Surf Open League Facebook Page.

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