Michael February and Tanika Hoffman flew the flag for the South African surfing team when both advanced through two rounds of competition on Sunday’s opening day of the ISA China Cup taking place in Wanning, on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.
The event features eight invited national teams with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and South Africa joined by a team from China, who are participating in an ISA surfing event for the first time.
Competing is well shaped one-metre waves that became smaller as the day wore on, all six South Africans team members finished first or second in their respective opening heats to progress to Round Two of the Qualifying stream in the double elimination format used at ISA events.
As the swell faded David Brand (Kommetjie), Casey Grant (Scottburgh) and Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) in the men’s division and Faye Zoetmulder (Seal Point) in the women struggled to find waves that offered scoring potential and were relegated to the taxing Repercharge rounds when they placed outside of the top the two positions in their Round Two heats.
February posted a convincing heat victory in Round One before holding onto second place in Round Two. The 21-year-old from Kommetjie, who was SA’s top male performer at the ISA World Surfing Games in Peru last month, will face three Peruvians in his Round Three encounter when the contest resumes on Monday.
Hoffman, who like February was the top SA performer in her division in Peru, also won her first match-up and placed second in Round Two in China. The Hout Bay based 22-year-old comes up against surfers from Australia, Costa Rica and Peru in Round Three, with the top two progressing directly to the Grand Final and guaranteed a gold, silver, bronze or copper medal.
South Africa, Australia, Peru, Brazil, and Costa Rica still have all of their athletes in contention and are in the hunt for the team gold medal and the 2014 ISA China Cup. Argentina are sitting in sixth place in the provisional standings while Panama are in seventh and unfortunately for the local Chinese team, despite a solid effort, they have lost all of their athletes and will finish in eighth place.
Photo: ISA/Rommel Gonzales