Quintin van Jaarsveld
Reigning national women’s Over-30 champion Heather Clark will once again spearhead the Ugu Surfriders senior side at the Mercedes-Benz South African Championships presented by Buffalo City in East London from 7-12 August.
The legendary Port Shepstone surfer will return to one of her favourite hunting grounds, where she not only won the women’s Over-30 crown last year, but also claimed her maiden South African Open title in 1989.
Clark will also compete in the open women’s class, where she’ll be joined by rising star Jesse Powell.
The other pillar of the side over the years, Gary van Wieringen, will also be out to secure another South African title when he and Justin Maisch take on the country’s best in both open and masters divisions.
Simo Mkhize, Cody Coetsee, Derek Horlock and Ryan Klynsmith are the other open wave-riders, while Chad Delport, Carl Roux, Daryl Adamson and Warren “Wazo” Wareing make up the rest of team’s masters riders.
“The team is really strong in both the open and the masters, and most of us have surfed in East London before,” Clark, who clinched the Surfer of the Contest award in last year’s national championships, told eHowzit.
“We’re missing surfers in some of the masters age divisions and I’m not sure whether we’ll fill those or not, otherwise we’ll stay with our strong smaller team.
“Gary said we have a small, strong team and that dynamite comes in small packages, and I can’t put it any better.
“Our masters have done very well in SA Champs in East London in previous years, so I hope we can go and pull off more good results along with the open surfers.
“I really enjoy surfing in East London. It has a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to hit the water over there again.”
Over 200 surfers and officials from all corners of South Africa will be making their way to East London.
This historic surfing tournament will officially get under way at with an Opening Function at the East London Surf Lifesaving Club at Nahoon Beach on Monday August 6th. The function, which begins at 7pm for 7.30pm, will see surfers, officials, guests and VIPs enjoying a social occasion before competition gets under way in earnest at Nahoon Reef from Tuesday August 7th until Sunday August 12th.
This is the premier event on the Surfing South Africa calendar and features surfers in the premier Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions as well seven other age groups ranging from Over 30 to Over 60.
Over the years, Nahoon Reef has hosted numerous iconic South African Surfing Championships and in 1978 became the first of only two South African cities to host a World Surfing Championship.
During last year’s edition, hosts Buffalo City not only produced perfect waves but also included storm conditions as part of the menu. Despite the challenge of moving from Nahoon Reef to Nahoon Corner due to huge swells, there was some fine surfing across the board and the 2017 championships was a resounding success.
This year, over 160 surfers from eight Districts and three Provinces will be competing for nine individual South African titles, traditional trophies, medals and a R1000 cheque for each of the winners.
Leading the charge for gold medals is current World Masters Champion, five time South African Men’s Champion and defending Over 40 Division Champion Greg Emslie. Emslie was runner up in the premier Men’s Division last year and is determined to add a sixth title to the five that already make him one of the greatest South African surfers in history.
Chris Knutsen of eThekweni, a five time World Champion and four times South African Champion will be back at Nahoon Reef to defend his Over 55 Division title.
Twenty nine current and former National Team members are competing this year while eight of the nine 2017 South African Champions will be defending their titles this year.
Adding to the pedigree in the field will be the presence of six former World Champions who will be coming up against a number of young but talented district surfing stars such as local girl Zoe Steyn and eThekwini’s Nicole Pallet.
Fourteen year old Steyn became the youngest female surfer to be selected South Africa when she was selected to compete in the ISA World Games in Japan in September. Her teammates are Pallet and world ranked Bianca Buitendag, Beyrick de Vries, Adin Masencamp and David van Zyl. The team, which is supported by Mercedes-Benz and Buffalo City, will compete in the ISA World Surfing Games in Japan in late September.
At this year’s Championships, surfers will compete in a total of 128 heats which will take 48 hours to complete over six days. Each surfer in every team will accrue points which will be allocated to their District totals to determine which Team will win the 45 year old Presidents Cup which involves the Open Men and Women surfers and the Masters Cup which is competed for by the surfers in the Over 30 to Over 60 Divisions.
The 2017 Presidents Cup and the Masters Cup winners were event hosts Buffalo City Surfriders and their combined points also saw them taking the inaugural Champions Cup.
Last year, the Dave Fish Trophy, which is awarded to the most consistent surfer throughout the event, went to Greg Emslie and Clark was named Surfer of the Contest.
As National Women’s Day falls on Thursday August 9th next week and to celebrate South Africa’s female surfers, the South African Championships will feature only Women’s heats on that day.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz SA Surfing Championships hosted by Buffalo City will be streamed live on Saturday and Sunday August 11th and 12th from 9am and can be viewed on any device by going to www.vodacom.co.za/viewplus
Ugu Surfriders Senior Team:
Gary van Wieringen
Gary van Wieringen
Warren “Wazo” Wareing
Masters Women (O30):
Photo by Offshore Surf Photography