An increase in swell at Jeffreys Bay was just what was required on a busy second day at the Billabong SA Junior Champs presented by BOS where surfers in eight different divisions produced exciting performances as they challenged for national titles and team points.
The Under-18 boys were the first in the line-up on Thursday and Joshe Faulkner (Nelson Mandela Bay) kicked off things in spectacular fashion by winning his heat with a total of 16.16 out of 20 that included a couple of scores in the excellent range.
Luke Malherbe (Buffalo City) was on fire on his backhand, finding a couple of the day’s biggest waves and producing a near-perfect nine point ride. That was matched by Kody Oberholzer (eThekweni) who used his entire repertoire of forehand manoeuvres on the long J-Bay walls.
Surprise of the round was dark-horse Samuel Loppknow representing host district Nelson Mandela Bay who used all his local wave knowledge to pull off an impressive win over highly rated Calvin Goor from the Ilembe district team making their debut at the SA Junior Champs.
Kai Woolf (Nelson Mandela Bay), who is chasing the U16 girls title after winning the U15’s last year, was determined to steal the boy’s thunder and absolutely dominated her heat with a pair of high nine-point rides that rewarded her vertical backhand attack.
S’nenhlanhla Makhubu (eThekweni), who has just returned from competing in the ISA World Junior Champs in Japan, also delivered a classy performance on her backhand.
Last year’s U17 SA girls champion Kirsty McGillivray (Nelson Mandela Bay) kept her campaign for back-to-back titles rolling in the U18 girls by producing a heat total in the high teens, carving her way to a 9.6 and backing it up with an 8.5.
‘The waves were really fun,’ enthused the J-Bay local. ‘I picked up a great set wave that just gave me so much space to do turns.’
By midday the onshore wind was freshening but J-Bay’s perfect geography ensured running waves for the surfers in the cut-throat 15-minute repechage round heats. Aya Gericke (Eden) and Tye Findlay (Buffalo City) were impressive in moving through to Round 3 of the U16 boys, while Matt O Brian (Buffalo City) and Declan Fiet (Cape Winelands) were among those who will compete in the next round of the U14 boys.
The Ugu district team were glad to see their U18 boys Tyler May, Senzo Shange and Dirkus Lubbe all escape the repechage rounds and remain in contention for higher honours at the country’s premier event for surfers 18-and-under.
The U14 girls showed style and grace in their Round 2 encounters with Jess Powell (Ugu) and Chanel Shaw (Eden) advancing after a great heat. And the U12 boys wrapped up a long day with Joel Fowles (Buffalo City), Josh Van Wyk (Cape Town Surfriders), Ben Ribbink (eThekweni) and Ntokozo Maphumulo (Development Team) all stoked to progress to Round 3.
Alongside the individual titles at stake in the individual U12, U14, U16 and U18 boys and girls divisions, there are teams from eight districts plus the SA Development Academy competing for the coveted Freedom Cup.
There are also a number of specialty awards up for grabs including the BOS Highest Heat Score, VonZipper Airshow and the Wazoogles Surfer of the Event for Boys and Girls, while the teams compete for the prized Spirit Cup.
As part of Surfing South Africa’s commitment to transformation, the South African Development Academy team is participating thanks to support from Sea Harvest and a grant from Sport and Recreation South Africa.
Picture of Nelson Mandela Bay’s Kai Woolf courtesy of Billabong/McGregor