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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 7 September 2017

They call it Cold Hawaii without irony. Is it a gimmick, asks Spike as he watches the world's best SUP stars surf Denmark's North Shore at the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Champs today.

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FRICK SAKES: Dylan Frick was unfortunately elminated in Round 2. Photo ISA / Reed

Apparently Denmark gets good surf: not like the warm Hawaii, but relatively good. However, that has not been happening today. Earlier, the town of Vorupør resembled what you expect northern Europe to look like. Cloudy. Cold. Grey. Raining. Windy. Onshore. Three foot. Mushy. The people are nice, and the countryside is pretty, but the surf is miff. At times, watching the live stream today, the rain was so strong you could barely see anything. Then the wind switched and it was offshore. Weird! That's why they had to have the surfing today. Cooking!

On Tuesday, Danish Viking Casper Steinfath (and ISA vice-president) earned a spot in the Men's Technical Race final on Saturday. He already has the SUP Sprint Gold Medal in front of thousands in Copenhagen on Sunday. This event is quite quaint. So Nordic. So Danish. Heck, they even have Christian Anderson and Oliver Hartkopp in their team. Fairy tales are made of this. And a tough nut.

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DANISH SUNSET: Cathrine Yde walks with the flag of Denmark at Vorupør. Photo ISA / Reed

The SUP surfers have been trying to pull every small-wave trick out of the book at Vorupør, a tiny but picturesque parish on the North Sea coast of Jutland, Denmark, 120km south of the fjords of southern Norway. Brrrr!

Team South Africa had a 25% hit rate in the surfing when only Tamsyn Foster remained going into the semi-finals of the Women's SUP Surfing, but she was knocked out. Dylan Frick was knocked out in Round 2. Both started off with emphatic wins in Round 1 where Gary Van Rooyen and Khara Doyle were knocked out. Sadly for Doyle, she was drawn against Foster in Round 1. Out of 12 heats, the two SA contenders had to be drawn against each other.

Due to a small window of contestable waves, Round 1 was an elimination format to quickly cut down the field. No fewer than 42 surfers were cut from the contest, with no repercharge to provide a cushion to continue. The reason was a swell that was going to "peak" this morning (not sure that 0.8m x 5sec is the peak of any swell but it did change to offshore, and there were a few 3ft peaks today).

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WAVE HUNTING: Tamsyn Foster was the best performing South African surfer. Photo ISA / Reed

Hawaii's Zane Schweitzer, who claimed his first ISA SUP Surfing Gold Medal in an epic day at Cloudbreak, Fiji in 2016, must be wondering about the difference in quality he's seeing. It didn't matter though. He earned the top two-wave heat total of the day (14.70). If you consider some people were scoring 2s and 3s - with the hapless Marcin Popów from Poland finding a 0.00 next to his name - that is an unbelievable score in these conditions.

Frick got an 8,87 for his heat win, with the nearest competitor - a German - scoring 5.23. Foster got a similar 8.84 but her nearest competitor - an Italian - could only scrape a 2.2 in the horrid conditions.

Schweitzer says he has no doubt that Hawaii can win overall Gold. If they do - their distance racer Connor Baxter already has a medal - they must crack the Technical Race and SUP Surfing on the weekend. The surfing champions get crowned today. Go Tamsyn!

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SURF'S COOKING! Gary van Rooyen eyes a thundering set in Cold Hawaii. Photo ISA / Reed

"Being here in Cold Hawaii has given me so much respect for the local surfers. Casper Steinfath grew up here and became a world-class athlete in these challenging conditions. I have a new-found appreciation for his dedication and all who get in the water here," said Schweitzer.

New Zealand, situated in the Team Gold Medal position, have almost all their competitors still in the game. South Africa are 10th. The only way we can improve significantly is if Foster can get into the surfing finals today and if Frick, whose 7th place in Round 1 of the Men's Technical Racing relegated him to the super Repercharge heat as 2nd seed, can make it to the finals on Saturday, which he should. His compatriot in the technical division, Kimon Dos Santos, got 12th in Round 1. He is seeded 16 in the same super Repercharge with a hard road ahead to make the finals.

In the Women's Technical Racing, Jacqueline De Billiot and Rolande Williamson both placed 9th in their Round 1 heat, but face a mammoth task seeded 15th and 13th in the super repercharge respectively.

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PRONE TECHNICAL: Candice Murray is into the final of this division. Photo ISA / Reed

In the Men's Prone Technical Race, Kit Beaton made the final of the men's and Candice Murray made the women's final after both placing 4th in Round 1.

Apart from the remaining finals, the rest is done, with SA's best-placed spot a fifth for Jacqueline Le Court in the Women's Sprint. No SA men made the Men's Sprint. Murray got 8th in the Women's Paddle Distance Racing, while Beaton got 12th in the Men's. Chris Couve and Dylan Frick got 29th and 35th in the Men's SUP Distance Racing respectively, while Jacqueline LeCourt and Rolande Williamson got 27th and 40th respectively in the women's equivalent.

To view the full event schedule and results, click here. The event is live September 1-10 on www.isaworlds.com

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