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Bianca Buitendag-1200-th

Tue, 18 September 2018

Super Typhoon Mangkhut kickstarted the UR ISA World Surfing Games in Japan with a bang for two days. After Day 3 today, Team SA stays in the hunt with four surfers in dropping swell.

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TYPHOON SWELL: Qui Zhuo of China slices one off the top in Japan. Photo Sean Evans

Captain Bianca Buitendag continued to set the pace in the dwindling surf today after Day 1 and 2 was marked by a thumping typhoon swell. Yesterday, Buitendag blasted her way through Round 2, 3 and 4 to reach Round 5, with six women remaining, and one more heat before the final.

Kanoa Igarashi wrote the history books for Team Japan today, with a spot in the Men's Grand Final to guarantee the first individual medal for Japan in the event's 54-year history. Argentina's Santiago Muniz joins him, and looks to win his second WSG gold after the 2011 edition at Panama. The other two slots will be made up of survivors from the relentlessly gruelling repercharge rounds.

Sadly, for Team SA, experienced campaigner Beyrick de Vries of uMhlanga is out of the running, but David van Zyl of Glenashley and Adin Masencamp of the Strand are still in the event and facing four more elimination repercharge heats before a possible finals berth. For the women, Zoe Steyn is out, but Nicole Pallet of La Lucia is still fighting in the repercharge, although must get a top two finish in five more heats to quality for a berth in the final.

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JUST SHORT: Beyrick de Vries had an amazing run of heat wins, but is now out. Photo Ben Reed

Japan (5180) is the last team to have all surfers remaining in the event, and they're looking almost impossible to beat. Dark horse Team Spain (4810) and USA (4770) are close behind, having lost only one surfer each. The good news is that South Africa is 4th on 4380 points, and not that far behind either.

The rest of the men's event, including the final, looks set to take place tomorrow, with a flat spell suggesting the women's final will run later in the week.

In the first ISA event to embrace gender equality with equal numbers of men and women in the 42 national teams in attendance, Pallet made it to Round 3 of the main event where she came up unstuck against her captain, Justine Dupont (France) and Coral Wiggins (Costa Rica), dropping to the second-chance Repercharge tier in their Round 4.

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TWISTING: Bianca Buitendag continued to fly the flag in the main rounds. Photo Sean Evans

Meanwhile, Zoe Steyn of East London, the third of the three South African women, was relegated early. A third in Round 1 saw her drop into Repercharge 1 but she managed a spot in the next round, which she won. However, a third in Repercharge Round 3 saw her drop out, the weakest performance so far, but a learning curve that bodes well to supplement her talent in later events.

All three SA men won their main event Round 1 heats. However, opening day standout, De Vries, got a third in Round 2, which relegated him to the Repercharge, where he went on a roll to win Round 2, 3 AND 4, but a third in Round 5 saw him fall away. The repercharge is brutal.

Van Zyl posted two straight heat wins in Round 1 and 2 and was joined in Round 3 of the Main event by Adin Masencamp of the Strand. However, while Masencamp took the win to move to Round 4 of the main event, Van Zyl dropped out and into the Repercharge Round 4. Van Zyl has powered on, and now sits in Repercharge 6, where he is joined by Masencmamp after his main event Round 5 loss.

The Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games is streamed live starting at 12 midnight South African time on www.isasurf.org until Saturday 22 September.

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