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All roads lead to Nahoon for SA Championships

Nahoon Reef in East London is bracing itself for the arrival of over 200 surfers and officials who will be participating in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz South African Surfing Championships, hosted by Buffalo City from Tuesday to Sunday.

The SA Championships is the premier event on the Surfing South Africa calendar and features surfers in the Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions, as well seven other age groups ranging from Over 30 to Over 60.

Nahoon Reef has hosted numerous South African Championships since the inaugural event in 1965, and in 1978 the ISA World Surfing Championships took place at this iconic surf spot.

This year, Surfing South Africa celebrates the 52nd edition of the championships, making it one of the longest-running surfing tournaments in the world.

The championships will help prepare the national team for surfing’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

In addition, East London’s importance as a major South African surfing venue will be boosted through the presenting of the annual championships, preparation and support of the national team, hosting of coaching and judging seminars and support of local outreach programmes.

The championships will feature over 160 surfers from eight districts, who will be competing for nine individual South African titles.

Adding prestige to the event, is the news that current World Big Wave Champion, Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, will be representing eThekweni in the Over 40 Division, while World Masters Champion and five-time South African Men’s Champion Greg Emslie (pictured above) will be back to defend his title, this time at his local surf spot.

He will also be competing in the Over 40 Division, the same group as Baker.

Chris Knutsen of eThekweni, a five-time world champion and four-time SA champion, will be competing in the Over 55 Division, while former World Tour campaigner, ISA World Masters Champion and eight-time South African champion. Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders, will be hoping to add a ninth title to her list of achievements.

Twenty four current and former national team members are competing, while six of the nine 2016 South African Champions are back to defend their titles.

There are six world champions turning out for their districts at this year’s championships, along with some well-known provincial and district surfing stars.

Surfers representing districts from along the South African coast will contest 11 divisions, from Under 20 to Over 60 and will compete in a total of 140 heats.

The 126 heats make up 47 hours of competition, which will be completed over six days of intense competition. Individual titles will be at stake in nine divisions, and surfers scores will be allocated to their district totals to determine which team will win the 45-year-old Presidents Cup and the Masters Cup. This year, all the points from the open divisions and masters divisions will be combined to determine the winners of the inaugural Champions Cup.

The 2016 Presidents Cup was won by Cape Town Surfriders, and at Seal Point in 2016 the Buffalo City Surfriders team secured their 11th Masters Cup. These events were held separately in 2016.

To commemorate the memory of a much-loved president of the Buffalo City Surfriders, Surfing South Africa has introduced the Dave Fish Trophy, which will be awarded to the most consistent surfer throughout the event. Fish passed away just days before last year’s SA Masters Championships.


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