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SA medal chances lie with Buitendag

Buitendag

The hopes of both an individual and a team medal for the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team rest squarely on the shoulders of captain Bianca Buitendag after five days of competition at the 2018 Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games in Tahara, Japan.

Buitendag is just one heat away from a second consecutive medal in the ISA’s annual showpiece and South Africa currently occupy fifth place in the provisional team standings after the best showing by the team’s men since winning the team gold medal in Panama in 2013.

The Saffas have a rest day on Friday as the top seven teams from the 2017 World Surfing Games, plus the host nation Japan, battle for the gold, silver, bronze and copper medals in the Aloha Cup, a form of relay surfing.

The men’s event was completed on Wednesday with Santiago Muniz of Argentina bagged a second gold medal to go with his victory in the 2011 event. The South American finished ahead of overwhelming favourite Kanoa Igarashi of Japan with Luca Mesinas (Peru) and Shun Murakami (Japan) taking third and fourth places respectively.

David van Zyl of Glenashley was the top South African performer in the men’s event, finishing in eighth position out of the 107 men in Japan. Van Zyl reached Round 3 of the Main event before dropping into the repechage stream where he progressed though another four rounds, winning two heats and placing second twice, before being ousted.

In his first cap for the senior South African team, Adin Masencamp of the Strand advanced to Round 4 in the Main event stream and then won one Repo heat before ending in 15th place overall. Beyrick de Vries of uMhlanga earned 25th place in his first appearance at an ISA event since 2010.

Zoe Steyn of East London and Nicole Pallet of La Lucia, both of whom are making their debuts on the South African team, finished 37th and 25th respectively while Buitendag has charged through the Main event draw, winning four match-ups and finishing runner-up once.

A top two result in her next heat will see the lanky Southern Cape standout qualify for the final and a guaranteed medal. If she finishes third or fourth, Buitendag will still have another chance to reach the final by earning first or second spot in the repechage final.

Competitive giants USA and Australia fill the top two places in the provisional team rankings and both have all three of their women in contention to accumulate additional points towards their respective team’s total.

France hold third place with two women still in the event, Japan are fourth with all their surfers already eliminated and South Africa is in fifth place with a mathematical chance of grabbing the fourth place team copper medal if Buitendag makes the final and the two French girls do not.

Whatever result Buitendag achieves, South Africa are guaranteed of finishing in the top six of the event, their best result since 2014.

The four surfers representing Spain in the Aloha Cup pipped host nation Japan by a slender 0.27 of a point to clinch the gold medal in the one-of-a-kind team relay event featuring the top eight teams from last year’s edition of the ISA World Surfing Games. Costa Rica earned the bronze medal and the USA the copper in the tiny waves on offer at Tahara.

The event will take a break on Friday and return on Saturday (starting midnight Friday South African time) for the completion of the women’s event and the awards ceremony where the final team positions will be announced.

PHOTO: Buitendag (with surfboard)  congratulated by her South African surfing teammate in Japan, by ISA/Reed

Provisional Team Points (Top 10 of 42 heading into the final day on Saturday)
1 USA 3920
2 Australia 3490
3 France 3375
4 Japan 3368
5 South Africa 2973
6 Peru 2605
7 Spain 2528
8 New Zealand 2415
9 Argentina 2340
10 Canada 2248


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