Thu, 27 June 2019

Before you jump up and down about how wild cards work for the Corona JBay Open, remember that a lack of sponsorship resulted in the demise of the Supertrial, writes Craig Jarvis.

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ADIN MASENCAMP: He is the highest placed South African on the QS ranking. Photo WSL / Bennett

The Wildcard at the JBay Open used to be quite a fun affair, with a well-run Supertrial run by the JBU to determine a winner, who got the wild card into the event. It was first called the Xcel Shootout, and then it became the JBU Supertrial. Those events are gone now, with no sponsorship interest.

The local wildcard is now decided on rankings if there is no trial event, because it is the most fair way of doing these things, and the highest ranked South African surfer on the WQS ratings gets the wildcard. Last year, it went to JBay surfer Matt McGillivray.

He came third to Joel Parkinson in his last JBay event, and was eliminated by Julian Wilson in the second round. He put up a good battle, but was beaten by the experienced Wilson.

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MATT MCGILLIVRAY: He got the wildcard in 2018 but lost to Julian Wilson. Photo Supplied

This year, we have a three-way race going down between Adin Masencamp, 29th on the QS rankings, McGillivray at 36, and Dylan Lightfoot at 40. There is also the outside chance of Beyrick de Vries, who sits at 61.

A big result in Ballito pres by O’Neill will change the game. The first World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event of the year, the Ballito event from 1 to 7 July leads up to the start of the JBay window on the 9th.

The thing is, Ballito is a 10,000 point event so there are a lot of points on offer. A fifth place throws out 5,200 points, a third gives you 6,500, a runner up slot awards 8,000 and a win is 10,000. Right now Masencamp sits on 5,445 points, McGillivray 4,910 points, Lightfoot 4,810 and Beyrick 3,680.

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MIKEY FEBRUARY: His result in the 2017 Ballito Pro clinched his spot on the '18 CT. Photo WSL

Remember Ballito was the primary reason why Mikey February qualified at the end of 2017 for 2018. He placed third and banked 6,500 points in Ballito to go with his wins at the 1,000 Nelson Mandela Bay Pro, the 1,000 Corona Durban Surf Pro, the 1,000 Vans Surf Pro Classic and a runner up position at the Buffalo City Surf Pro (750 points).

Right now, Masencamp is the man with the eye of the tiger.Right now, Masencamp is the man with the eye of the tiger. His win in PE at the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing was ruthless. He was taking no prisoners from the start, and was going to do whatever it took, along with fine surfing, to win that event. He wants the wildcard more than anyone right now, and if he carries on with the momentum he has right now he’ll be paddling out at Supers in the seeding round in a few weeks time. However, either McGillivray or Lightfoot could spoil the party.

At Ballito, an elite 112-man field comprises the top 105 ranked surfers from the 151 who applied for entry, plus six wildcards and the winner of the trials. South African surfers Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay), Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay), Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) and Eli Beukes (Kommetjie) will join Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Mitch Crews (AUS) as the six wildcards.

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