Quintin van Jaarsveld
The 2017 Billabong South African Junior Surfing Championships presented by BOS on Sunday reached an epic crescendo at Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay, where Ugu Surfriders produced their best performance in three years.
After languishing in seventh place in 2015 and 2016, a determined, talented and spirited South Coast side finished sixth out of nine teams this year, with the tight-knit team’s enthusiasm earning them the Skull Candy Loud and Proud Trophy for the best team spirit.
The 2017 edition of the national junior championships will be remembered for the incredible waves across all five days with sunshine, whale sightings, great memories and after an excellent final day, a new set of champions who’ll have their names inscribed in the annals of South Africa surfing history.
Making up the Ugu Surfriders side were Under-18 surfers Jenna Unsworth, Tyler May, Senzo Shange, Drikus Lubbe and David Jacobson, Under-16 riders Chalize Coetzee, Maya Attfield, Claire Haskins, Caden Coetsee, Sean Ruggeri, Sanele Mbewana and Nathan Borstlap, Under-14 competitors Jesse Powell, Jordy Boshoff, Lwando Dlezi, Ayanda Mpisane and Landon Windvogel and Under-12 groms Kira Attfield, Luc Lepront and Evan Peylos.
Port Shepstone legend Heather Clark coached the team, while Claudia Fuchs continued her role as team manager.
Clark’s elite-level coaching, a combination of the unrivalled experience she gained during her trail-blazing career on the ASP World Tour and passion for giving back to the sport she’s dedicated her life to, played a significant part in Ugu’s progression at this year’s national showcase.
“It was awesome coaching such a cool bunch of Ugu surfers. They all did fantastic and I’m super proud of each one of them,” commented Clark.
The surfers rose to the occasion and each made their mark in one way or another. Powell and Kira Attfield were the stars of the team, the former reaching the Under-14 girls’ semi-finals and the latter the Under-12 girls’ semis.
Ugu also produced four quarter-finalists in Unsworth (Under-18 girls), Haskins (Under-16 girls), Coetsee (Under-16 girls) and Boshoff (Under-14 boys).
Cape Town Surfriders clinched the coveted Freedom Cup for the team accumulating the highest points across all divisions. The victory margin was the closest in the 21-year history of the trophy with the team from Cape Town reclaiming the cup they won in 2015 by scoring just 63 points more than their arch rivals from eThekweni.
The Capetonians also claimed two of the eight individual national titles at stake and provided five of the 32 finalists, earning a total of 42,840 points.
eThekweni (42,777) finished runners-up with hosts and defending team champions Nelson Mandela Bay (41,792) in third place and Buffalo City (40,277) in fourth. They were followed in the team standings by Cape Winelands, Ugu, Eden, debutants Ilembe and the SA Development Academy.
Ford van Jaarsveldt (Cape Town Surfriders) was consistent throughout the Under-18 boys’ division, winning every single heat he contested. He was elated to improve on his runner-up position in the Under-17 boys’ division last year by claiming the premier boys’ title this year.
Nelson Mandela Bay surfer Joshe Faulkner was relegated to second place by a mere 0.21 of a point leaving Koby Oberholzer (eThekweni) and Adin Masencamp (Cape Winelands) in third and fourth places respectively.
Kirsty McGillivray (Nelson Mandela Bay) added another South African title to her name with her powerful and precise surfing, capturing the crown in the dying seconds of the Under-18 girls final. Nina Harmse (Eden) maintained her runner-up berth from last year while goofy foot Natasha van Greunen (Cape Winelands) finished third above her teammate Sarah Ingram in a heat with few waves.
After a heat total of 19.47 in his semi-final earlier in the day, Eli Beukes had unshakeable confidence in the Under-16 boys’ final, sealing his title with a big air-reverse on his last wave. Aya Gericke (Eden) read the waves beautifully for a second place finish above Saxton Randall (eThekweni). After a rocky start Angelo Faulkner (Nelson Mandela Bay) went for broke with a huge aerial manoeuvre but was unable to stick the landing and had to settle for fourth place.
The talented Under-16 girls had a slow final but Nelson Mandela Bay surfer and J-Bay local Kai Woolf knew just the right waves to pick to claim another South African title with her ferocious backhand attack.
Runner-up S’nenhlanhla Makhubu (eThekweni) was a good match for Woolf on her backhand and held the highest single score in the final, an 8.5, but struggled to find a heat winning back up ride. Tayla de Coning (Buffalo City) was narrowly bumped to third place with Summer Sutton (Cape Town Surfriders) finishing fourth.
The Under-14 boys were blowing up throughout the contest but in the end it was Buffalo City’s Mitch du Preez who claimed his first South African title with a total of 16.44, despite only surfing three waves in the 20-minute final. Teammate Daniel Emslie finished close behind in second place ahead of Luke Thompson (eThekweni) and Kye Macgregor (Nelson Mandela Bay).
Zoe Steyn (Buffalo City) had a fantastic final in the Under-14 girls, dominating proceedings and winning with a 16.33 heat total. Katie Winter (Cape Town Surfriders) finished in second place leaving Lhea Johnston (Buffalo City) and Ceara Knight (Cape Winelands) in third and fourth place respectively.
The Under-12 groms were a pleasure to watch as they fearlessly charged the overhead waves. In the girls’ final, Gabbi Herbst (eThekweni) held the lead with a series of great scores while Scarlette van Jaarsveldt (Cape Town Surfriders) earned a well-warranted second place. In third was Nelson Mandela Bay rider Zia Hendricks and in fourth was Maya Figl (Cape Winelands).
The charismatic Kyra Bennie (Cape Winelands) was chaired from the water’s edge to the podium by his teammates after taking out the Under-12 boys’ title. Nate Colby (eThekweni), who on Saturday scored the only perfect ten-point ride of the contest, finished runner-up while Ethan Currin (Buffalo City) edged into third place ahead of River Gericke (Eden).
There were a number of specialty awards at stake. Newly-crowned South African Under-16 boys’ champ Beukes claiming both the BOS Highest Heat Score and the VonZipper Airshow prizes, while the Wazoogles Surfer of the Event awards went to Nate Colby (eThekweni) and Caroline Brown (Cape Town Surfriders).
“This event has been amazing with awesome waves every day here at Lower Point!” enthused Billabong South Africa Marketing Manager, Chad Darcy.
“The surfing standard has been really high – the groms have been blowing up and it’s great to see some new faces claim the titles. From Billabong’s point of view we are really stoked, it’s a great way to end the 2017 contest season.”
2017 Billabong SA Junior Champs pres. by BOS Results:
1st Cape Town Surfriders 42,840
2nd eThekweni 42,777
3rd Nelson Mandela Bay 41,792
4th Buffalo City 40,277
5th Cape Winelands 37,679
6th Ugu 28,052
7th Eden 25,969
8TH Ilembe 15,220
9th SA Development Academy 13,022
1st Ford van Jaarsveldt 13.90 CTS
2nd Joshe Faulkner 13.70 NMBS
3rd Koby Oberholzer 12.16 ETK
4th Adin Masencamp 12.04 CW
1st Kirsty McGillivray 12.00 NMBS
2nd Nina Harmse 9.83 Eden
3rd Natasha van Greunen 7.83 CW
4th Sarah Ingram 4.13 CW
1st Eli Beukes 16.90 CTS
2nd Aya Gericke 14.37 Eden
3rd Saxton Randall 10.17 ETK
4th Angelo Faulkner 9.16 NMBS
1st Kai Woolf 14.17 NMBS
2nd S’nenhlanhla Makhubu 11.83 ETK
3rd Tayla de Coning 11.23 BC
4th Summer Sutton 9.20 CTS
1st Mitch du Preez 16.44 BC
2nd Daniel Emslie 14.90 BC
3rd Luke Thompson 11.67 ETK
4th Kye Macgregor 7.27 NMBS
1st Zoe Steyn 16.33 BC
2nd Katie Winter 11.67 CTS
3rd Lhea Johnston 9.13 BC
4th Ceara Knight 7.56 CW
1st Kyra Bennie 14.5 CW
2nd Nate Colby 12.67 ETK
3rd Ethan Currin 11.90 BC
4th River Gericke 10.33 EDEN
1st Gabbi Herbst 16.16 ETK
2nd Scarlette van Jaarsveldt 12.87 CTS
3rd Zia Hendricks 11.36 DEV
4th Maya Figl 8.34 CW
BOS Highest Heat Score
Eli Beukes (CTS)
VonZipper Airshow – R2 000
Eli Beukes (CTS)
Wazoogles Surfer of the Event – Boys
Nate Colby (ETK)
Wazoogles Surfer of the Event – Girls
Caroline Brown (CTS)
Skull Candy Loud & Proud Trophy (Team Spirit)