Sat, 29 September 2018

Fierce weather swept through the sleepy village of Cape St Francis on Day 1 of the Billabong JNR Series finale, but the U18 surfers put on the big moves in small waves, writes Craig Jarvis.

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DAN THE MAN: Dan Emslie flies off the top on a wind-swept rock-hopper. Photo Thurtell

A west swell and a galeforce west wind blasted most of the stormsea past the coast, and conditions challenging. Inconsistent, small surf wrapped around from the wild wildside, but everyone was surfing hard and committed, wanting a big result and a career-boosting finish to the year.

There were points and prize-money, yes, but there was plenty of extra value – individual event results, Billabong Junior Series winners, World Surf League (WSL) Africa Jnr champions and qualification for the WSL World Junior Championship in Taiwan in December (top 4 men and top two women on the regional rankings).

Seal Point is a difficult wave to surf when small, low tide and strong offshore. The top section is always inconsistent, and the lower section often doesn't wall up, so it was always a toss up between the two sections. One heat would focus on the top, while the next would move to the bottom with no apparent reason, leaving surfers a little confused and lacking waves in some heats.


ENTRY POINT: A surfer carefully eyes the oncoming set to get in for his heat. Photo McGregor

Cape Town surfer Cearan Knight had a great day in the Women’s Pro Junior divison, beating top seed Kai Woolf from JBay in their opening round encounter. Both girls advanced however, with excellent surfing from both.

Aya Gericke surfed with focus and precision, taking some very close lines near the rocks, but fitting in all the moves for the high scores. He was looking good from the get-go and impressed all with his polished performances.

In the U12 Boys quarterfinals, 3 Ntokozo ‘Surprise’ Maphumalo from KZN came from behind to take the heat win from Evan Peyios, Cooper Smith and Leon Bezuidenhout.

In the last heat of the U12 Boys quarterfinals, young local surfer Rory Dace killed it on one set wave, and was awarded an 8-point ride, best ride of the division and heat, but unbelievably it was not enough, as he had a weak backup ride and was eliminated, with Joel Fowles and Kai Hall coming in first and second place.

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IN THE ZONE: Ntokozo ‘Surprise’ Maphumalo from KZN prepares for his heat. Photo McGregor

It has been a great year for junior surfing in South Africa, and generally our place in international surfing looks set to grow and gather momentum. With surfers represented on so many levels on the World Surf League and with a strong domestic tour, we’re looking positive, and our juniors are one of the highlights of what we have.

We have Jordy and Mikey on the Championship Tour, and we have Bianca Buitendag getting a few slots as well as representing South Africa at the ISA World Games. We have Twiggy on the Big Wave Tour, and we have Beyrick De Vries, Matt McGillivray, Davey van Zyl and Dylan Lightfoot competing on the QS.

Having said that, Travis Logie is the QS Commissioner, and Kelly Cestari is the official WSL photographer. We've got Pottz (have we?) and Gigs and Rosy.

We’re all over the place.

The vibe and the scene down at the junior events is one of excitement and froth, support and fun. It’s not all serious.

More to come.

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WINDBLOWN: A westerly gale blasted through after a crisp start to the day. Photo Thurtell


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