South Africa’s top young surfers produced stellar performances in the ideal conditions at the Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay on Wednesday as they started their campaigns for prized national titles and team honours on the opening day of the Billabong SA Junior Champs presented by BOS.
The Under 17 boy’s division got the 20th edition of the country’s premier junior event underway in solid 1-1.5 metre waves and glassy conditions. Ford van Jaarsveldt, the top seed from defending team champions and Freedom Cup holders Cape Town Surfriders (CTS), immediately set the bar high with outstanding progressive surfing in the first heat of the event.
Van Jaarsveldt advanced directly to Round 3 along with heat runner-up Henco Scholtz from Cape Winelands (CW). Third and fourth placed Caleb Cronje from Buffalo City (BC)) and Kyle Hartley from Eden were relegated to Round 2 elimination encounters where only a top three finish will see them progress to Round 3.
Ethan Fletcher and Gabriel Fernandez, both CTS, posted heat wins to join teammate Van Jaarsveldt in Round 3, as did Luke Malherbe (BC) and newly crowned Billabong Junior Series U18 champ Adin Masencamp (CW).
Joshe Faulkner, Rewaldo Abersalie and Sebastian Williams weighed in with victories that demonstrated that hosts Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) will be pushing hard for both the individual and the team titles this year, while Koby Oberholzer from eThekweni (ETK) and Liam de Villiers from Uthungulu (UTHU) delivered standout performances to claim heat wins of their own.
The U15 boy’s division was next up and all five team riders from Cape Town Surfriders, Nelson Mandela Bay and eThekweni either won or finished runner-up in their respective heats to skip the cutthroat Round 2. Aya Gericke (Eden) showed he will also be a contender for the title by relegating defending SA U15 boys champion Max Elkington (CTS) to second place in their clash.
The U13 boys continued the assault on the overhead waves late in the day, impressing the judges and spectators alike with their radical manoeuvres. Alec Townsend (CTS), Mitch du Preez and Daniel Emslie (both BC), C Jay Posthumus (NMB) and James Ribbink (ETK) all delivered heat-winning performances.
The biggest upset of the day came when defending U13 boys’ champion Brayden Bergset (ETK) was relegated to Round 2 after finishing third behind Kye McGregor (NMB) and Jordan Boshoff (UGU) in their opening round battle.
The Billabong SA Junior Champs presented by BOS runs until Sunday 9 October when the winners in the U17, U15 and U13 boys’ and girls’ divisions will be crowned the 2016 SA Junior Champions. The district team accumulating the highest point tally across all divisions will be awarded the coveted Freedom Cup.
The event also offers number of lucrative specialty awards totalling more than R15 000 for both surfers and their teams. These include the Billabong / Bad Billy’s Tag Team Paddle Battle, BOS Highest Heat Score, VonZipper Airshow and the Skullcandy Stay Loud Team Spirit awards.
As part of Surfing South Africa’s commitment to transformation, the South African Development Academy team is participating thanks to a grant from Sport and Recreation South Africa.
Picture of Du Preez in action courtesy of Billabong/Thurtell