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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 18 May 2017

France-based South African Bianca Buitendag will captain Team SA as it joins a record number of countries at the World Surfing Games, which starts in two days in Biarritz, France.

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TOP GUN: Bianca's experience in France will be useful for Team SA. Photo WSL / Cestari

worldsurfinggamesFresh from her quarter-finals berth at the Oi Rio Pro in Brazil, where she received a wildcard entry (she lost her spot on the World Tour last year), Bianca is a stylish and powerful World Tour campaigner who will be hoping to add gold to the silver medal she won at the ISA World Junior Championships in Peru in 2011.

The ISA 2017 World Surfing Games will run from 20-28 May, with more than 40 countries expected to participate when competition gets underway on Saturday. This is an increase of more than 20 nations from the 2016 edition, held in Costa Rica.

Much of the recent global growth of Surfing can be attributed to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision in August 2016 to include Surfing on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Programme. Non-traditional Surfing nations such as Afghanistan, China, Chinese Taipei, Greece, Senegal and South Korea, have ridden this wave of momentum to field teams in the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games for the first time in the event’s history.

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COACH EMSLIE: Greg Emslie, who has vast experience, will coach Team SA. Photo ISA / Gonzales

South Africa has entered a team of four men and two woman, who left for Europe on Tuesday. Sea Point-based Tanika Hoffman, an experienced international campaigner and accomplished member of the South African Team set up, is the other woman in the team. Hoffman has been representing South Africa at ISA events since 2007 and in 2013 was a member of the South African Team that won gold at the ISA World Games in Panama. Last year she won the Cape Town Pro at Big Bay Bloubergstrand to secure her first ever World Surf League victory.

Top seed in the Men’s group is Jeffrey’s Bay surfer and team vice captain Dylan Lightfoot, a tough competitor who is campaigning hard on the World Qualifying Series, and just a month ago boosted his profile when he finished as runner up in the Nelson Mandela Pro in port Elizabeth.

Also in the side is Salt Rock star Shane Sykes whose natural talent saw him included in the 2016 SA Team that competed in the ISA World Games in Costa Rica, Sykes has posted some solid results in his junior career and is due to make his mark at senior level. With a little bit of luck added to his huge talent, France could be where it happens.


ABSENT: Mikey February is surfing a QS event so will miss the Games. Photo WSL

When Durban surfer Davey Van Zyl was last included in a South African Team, at the 2013 World Games, he came home with a team gold medal. Since then he has broken his leg, recovered and become the 2015 South African Champion. His solid powerbase and flow earns him big scores in competitions and he is ready for another visit to the podium.

His experience and skill will add immense value to the members of the South African team.

The fourth member of the 2017 South African Men’s team is new cap Brandon Benjamin who hails from Steenberg in the Western Cape. Benjamin was the runner up to five time SA Champion and current World Masters Champion Greg Emslie at the South African Championships at Long Beach Kommetjie last year. The 21-year-old has a strong repertoire of innovative moves and is schooled in beach break conditions so Biarritz should suit him.

East London legend, Greg Emslie, a former World Tour campaigner is the coach of the South African team. Emslie placed second to current World Champion in the Quiksilver Pro in France in 2007 and knows the French conditions like the back of his hand. His experience and skill will add immense value to the members of the South African team.

The experienced Isaac February is the Team Manager and his connections in Biarritz and positive outlook will be of enormous benefit to the team. Isaac is the father of Kommetjie based Mikey February who is currently lying 17th of the World Qualifying series after some impressive results in the recent City Surf Series events in Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban. Mikey was not available for SA Team selection as he is competing in a World Surf League QS6000 event in Japan next week.

About the Games
The World Surfing Games is the ISA’s flagship event and has run since the inaugural edition in 1964, making it the longest running Surfing World Championship in the world. The competition consists of National Surfing Teams – comprised of four men and two women – that compete for individual medals, team medals and national pride. The 2017 edition marks the ISA’s first event since the agreement of an official partnership with the Olympic Channel. The broadcasting platform will collaborate with the ISA on content creation and will also live stream the World Surfing Games. Watch the event live May 20-28 on www.isaworlds.com.

The schedule (Central European Time)
May 19 – Official Press Conference, 11am at the Radisson Blu Hotel
May 20 – Opening Ceremony, 10am Parvis du Casino de la Grande Plage
May 20-22 – Women’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 22 – Women’s Award Ceremony, Grande Plage
May 23-28 – Men’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 26 – World Premiere of “Shredding Monsters”, an Olympic Channel Production, 8pm at the Municipal Casino Theatre, Biarritz
May 28 – Closing Ceremony, Grande Plage

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