Feathery Festival of Flight
The latest Spar SA Longboard Championships presented by Ryd at J-Bay last week was another quantum leap in the development of young South African surfers, with Western Province reigning supreme.
Light offshore and reeling 3-4 ft waves in warm sunshine set the scene for South Africa’s top longboarders for the finals. Sam Christianson (KZN) secured his third consecutive South African title in the Open Men’s division with exceptionally confident surfing and a mammoth heat score total of 18.36 after a week of sublime surfing.
Apart from Christianson and Open Women's winner Tarryn King (WP), the standout athlete of the weekend was competition newcomer Mbuso Zozi (WP), who smoked the final, and wowed the crowd with long nose rides, surfing his way to a second place in the Men’s.
Zozi, a Muizenberg local, also won Stand Out Surfer of the Competition. Lavender Hill's Lorenzo Benn, who came through the Waves for Change programme, took third in the U18 boys division, an amazing result. Benn also won a new special award, the Best Vibes from Ryd award.
King, a multiple South African champion, displayed unshakable confidence and beautiful combinations of nose rides and swooping turns to take the Women’s title. Jeffreys Bay local Marishka Myers came in with a close second.
WP brought the team trophy home, ending a four-year streak by EP. Earning the only 10 point ride in the event, and highest heat score (19.00 pts), Hugh Thompson (EP) claimed a convincing win in the Legends division. Thompson was crowned champion at the first SA longboard champs in 1981.
This year saw the debut of the U14 Girls division and the young surfer girls put on outstanding shows! Multiple excellent scores of 8.00 and higher were dropped throughout the event, displaying the girls’ prowess and skill on their longboards. The division is likely to become increasingly competitive, promising to grow women’s longboard surfing in years to come. Western Province’s Emma Schermbrucker claimed the first U14 Girls title with confidence. She also won the Stoked Grom award at the prize giving.
Gqeberha’s Justin Van Niekerk (EP) reaffirmed his reputation as the up-and-coming surfer to watch by defending his title in the U18 Boys division.
His seemingly endless long nose rides down the Point impressed the judges throughout the week. Scarborough’s Maya Armstrong (WP) displayed beautiful nose rides and a graceful style to claim the U16 Girls title at her very first South African Longboard Championships appearance.
Overall, the takeaway from the past week of surfing was that Jeffreys Bay and the South African Longboard Championships never fail to deliver excellent waves, a cheery atmosphere and world class longboard surfing.
A special thanks to the event sponsors: Spar, Ryd Brand, Kouga Municipality, Red Bull, Vissla, InStep, TCS Wifi, Ocean Freedom