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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 18 April 2017

A breaching Thresher shark did little to stop Sophie Bell winning the Junior Women's and Women's event of the Buffalo City Surf Pro presented by Reef Wetsuits in East London yesterday. 

The 16 year-old from Salt Rock’s phenomenal feat in the World Surf league (WSL) rated events was made dramatic when the Women’s final was halted after spectators saw the shark leaping out of ocean less that 100 metres from the finalists at Nahoon Reef, which pumped over the Easter weekend.

The shark, which is not known to be harmful to humans, uses its tail to stun or kill its prey. Officials immediately put the event on hold. Bell and her opponent, Australian Tayla Hanak, made their way to shore and a jetski collected Steven Sawyer and Michael February, who were about to start the Men’s Final, from the lineup.

When the shark was seen moving away from the event site, contest director and WSL Africa Operations Manager, Colin Fitch, consulted with the competitors who decided to continue with the event.


THE KINKS: Angelo Faulkner sets up the inside section at Nahoon Reef. Photo WSL / Thurtell

While Bell did not re-enter the surf as she was bleeding from a cut on her knee, Hanak was ferried back to the lineup but could not find the 5.65 point score she required to grab victory in the one-and-a-half minutes remaining after the restart.

“It’s so crazy, I’m super, super stoked to win both events,” said Bell. “It was a big surprise winning the Women’s event, the more heats I got through the more shocked I was, but it feels so good to be back to winning ways.”

“That shark incident was the scariest moment of my life. All the spectators were shouting and luckily I had just ridden a wave and was quite close to the rocks so I just paddled straight in. I had a cut on my knee and didn’t go out again but luckily I still won.”


BELL WHISTLE: Sophie Bell pulled off a rare double. Photo WSL / Thurtell

Earlier the 2016 WSL Africa Junior Women’s champion dominated the JQS1,000 rated event for women 18-and-under, winning her quarterfinal, semifinal and the four-person final matchups. The win moved her into the lead in the Junior Women’s rankings after two events, and she also in second place on the Women’s ranking’s leaderboard.

February (Kommetjie), who was wearing the Skullcandy rankings leader’s striped vest after his victory in the opening event of the season in Port Elizabeth last weekend, and Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) fought out a see-saw battle in the unpredictable 1-15 metre waves in the QS1,000 Men’s Final.

The decision eventually went to Sawyer by 11.44 vs.11.07 points and he added his first QS1,000 event crown to the wildcard he won in the Championship Tour (CT) rated J-bay Open at his home break last July and his sensational runner-up finish in the World Longboard Championships in China in December.


SUPER SAWYER: Steezy Sawyer was at his stylish best to win the men's. Photo WSL / Thurtell

February convincingly defeated Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) in their semifinal duel and retained the Man’s rankings lead heading into the third event in Durban next weekend. Sawyer moved up to second spot and posted an equally dominating semifinal performance in defeating Sebastian Williams (Durban).

Koby Oberholzer (Warner Beach) claimed his first JQS1,000 event victory thanks to an awesome display of high performance surfing on a long-running wave that earned the 17 year-old a near-perfect 9.33 out of 10 from the judges.

Adin Masencamp (Strand), the 2016 WSL Africa Junior Men’s champion, grabbed the runner-up berth on the strength of a 7.17 while the Elkington brothers from Kommetjie, Jake and Max, placed third and fourth.


JUNIOR WINNER: Kobie Oberholzer was shredding the Nahoon ledge apart. Photo WSL / Thurtell

The Junior Men’s rankings lead will be up for grabs in Durban next weekend with Jake Elkington holding a slender lead over Oberholzer, with younger sibling Max, Masencamp and rising star Luke Slijpen (Cape Town) all within touching distance.

The Buffalo City Surf Pro presented by Reef Wetsuits featured World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS)1,000 rated events for men and women alongside JQS1,000 events for men and women aged 18-and-under. It was the second of five stops on the City Surf Series that started in Port Elizabeth last weekend and also visits Durban and Cape Town.

Second of five stops on the City Surf Series

A total of 42 surfers from the Chintsa based Unstressed Surf School and the Waves 4 Change group in East London participated in an Outreach programme conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) at Nahoon Beach on Sunday. The participants enjoyed beach activities, water coaching, a tag team contest and an Easter egg hunt under the watchful eye of SSA Development Officer Danielle Johnson and members of the Muizenberg based SWOT Surf Club. The SSA Outreach programmes are supported by the National Lotteries Commission, Reef Wetsuits and Volkswagen and are an integral part of the City Surf Series events.

Full results, images, videos, news and more are available at www.WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL App. See highlights on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. The Buffalo City Surf Pro is supported by Reef Wetsuits, Volkswagen, Corona, the Buffalo City Municipality, Yesman, Tsogo Sun, Skullcandy, El Jimador and Accelerate Sport.

Men's Final Results
1 Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) 11 44 R12,000 1,000 pts
2 Michael February (Kommetjie) 11 07 R6,000 750 pts

Women's Final Results
1 Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) 6.73 R8,000 1,000 pts
2 Tayla Hanak (AUS) 2 04 R4,000 750 pts

Junior Men’s Final Results
1 Koby Oberholzer (Warner Beach) 13 16 R8,000 1,000 pts
2 Adin Masencamp (Strand) 9.17 R4,000 750 pts
3 Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) 8.27 R2,500 560 pts
4 Max Elkington (Kommetjie) 7.40 R2,000 525 pts

Men’s QS1,000 Semifinals Results (2nd = 3rd place; R3,000; 560 pts)
SF1:Michael February (Kommetjie) 14.50 def. Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) 5.0
SF2:Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) 14.17 def. Sebastian Williams (Durban) 5.46

Women’s QS1,000 Semifinals Results (2nd = 3rd place; R2,250; 560 pts)
SF1:Tayla Hanak (AUS) 8.83 def. Teal Hogg (uMhlanga) 8.50
SF2:Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) 4.77 def. Natasha van Greunen (Cape Town) 2 50

2017 WSL Africa Rankings (After two events)

1 February,Michael Kommetjie 1750
2 Sawyer,Steve Jeffreys Bay 1280
3 Faulkner, JosheJeffreys Bay 955
4 De Vries,Beyrick uMhalanga945
5 Lightfoot,Dylan Jeffreys Bay 935

1 Hullett, Crystall St Francis Bay1420
2 Bell, Sophie Salt Rock 1300
3 Smith, EmmaJeffreys Bay 1145
4 Pallet, NicoleLa Lucia 955
4 Hogg, Teal uMhlanga 955

Junior Men
1 Elkington, Jake Kommetjie 1560
2 Oberholzer, Koby Warner Beach1395
3 Elkington, Max Kommetjie 1275
4 Masencamp, AdinStrand 1050
5 Slijpen, Luke Cape Town 1010

Junior Women
1 Bell, Sophie Salt Rock 1750
2 Nogueira, KaylaDurban 1395
3 McGillivray, KirstyJeffreys Bay 1050
4 De Coning, Tayla East London 840
4 Izzard, Olivia La Lucia 840

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