Quintin van Jaarsveld
Ugu Surfriders showed they’re on the up and up at the 2018 Sea Harvest South African Junior Surfing Championships, which came to an exciting climax at Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay on Sunday.
The 22nd edition of the national junior championships will be remembered for five days of sunshine, offshore and onshore surf, great vibes and excellent memories.
Although the final day of competition was held in tough onshore surf, the finalists put on an excellent show and the 2018 champions can proudly add their names into the annals of South African surfing history.
An exciting 20-member Ugu team made their presence felt.
Senzo Shange and Chalize Coetzee captained the side, which included fellow Under-18 surfers Tyler May, Skye Russel and Ziggy Borstlap, Under-16s Jesse Powell, Maya Attfield, Jordan Boshoff, Caden Coetsee, Ayanda Mpisane and Lwando Dlezi, Under-14s Louise Lepront, Gia Gillmer, Landon Windvogel, Axel Anthony, JJ Hoffman and Evan Spittal, and Under-12 groms Kira Attfield, Luc Lepront and Evan Peyios.
Port Shepstone legend Heather Clark once again coached the team, Menize Clark served as videographer and Claudia Fuchs continued her long-standing role as team manager.
The South Coast side replicated their 2017 performance, finishing sixth out of the nine participating teams, however, they eclipsed last year’s showing in terms of individual performances.
Twelve months ago, the team produced two semi-finalists in Powell and Kira Attfield. This time around, they boasted three semi-finalists and a finalist.
Kira Attfield, Peyios and Boshoff reached the semis, the talented trio ultimately finished fifth in their respective divisions, with Boshoff having won all of his heats on his way to the semi-finals.
The star of the team was Gillmer, who made it all the way to the final and finished fourth in the Under-14 Girls Division in what was her national junior championships debut.
Peyios and Maya Attfield were the most improved surfers, the former bettering his placing by 10 and the latter bettering her standing by eight places.
“Overall, the team did exceptionally well and I’m super proud of everyone for the way they surfed in good conditions and bad conditions. They went out and gave their all, stuck together as a team and the support we had was awesome, so I’m a very happy coach,” Clark told eHowzit.
“I told our surfers ahead of time that they must always look to improve or equal their results in every contest they surf, and just about all of them did that, so I’m stoked with that.”
Commenting on the conditions and the team’s standout surfers, the two-time world masters champion and multi-time national champion said, “In the mornings, the surf was really good, like proper J-Bay style cooking surf. But just after lunch time each day, the east picked up and it got terrible, and the semi-finalists and finalists had horrible conditions to contend with.
“Gia surfed great…I’m really happy with her performance. She surfed a division above her age group and for her to finish fourth is absolutely fantastic! She now has something to work towards for next year and I’m sure she’ll work flat out.
“Jordy, Evan and Kira all upped their game and also did fantastic!”
Another South Coaster and Clark protégé, Mayah Potgieter, also had a great outing. “Smurf” as she’s affectionately known, represented Ilembe and finished fourth in the Under-12 Girls Division.
Meanwhile, the Cape Town Surfriders team successfully defending the coveted Freedom Cup, which is awarded to the team accumulating the highest points across all divisions at the five-day tournament.
Their victory margin over traditional rivals, eThekweni Surfriders from KZN, was 45375 points to eThekweni’s 45140 points. The Capetonians claimed two of the eight individual national titles at stake while eThekweni took three championship titles.
Buffalo City Surfriders from East London scored 42965 points and came third, their best result at the national junior championships since their runner-up spot in 2003. They claimed two national titles while hosts Nelson Mandela Bay Surfriders 38066 points gave them fourth place overall. They produced one new national champion.
Cape Winelands Surfriders came fourth with 33985, Ugu Surfriders were sixth with 27360 points came sixth. The Garden Route-based Eden Surfriders team posted 24058 points for seventh, Ilembe Surfriders from the KZN North Coast were eighth with 20640 points and the six-strong SA Academy Team took ninth spot with 8960 points.
The new champions are Max Elkington (Cape Town Surfriders), who adds the Under-18 Boys title to his previous age division success. The Kommetjie surfer is the only surfer to win every age group at this event.
Nelson Mandela Bay surfer and Sea Harvest Surfing Excellence Award winner in 2018, Angelo came second with 2017 Under-16 Boys champion Eli Beukes (Cape Town) ending third ahead of Karl Steen (eThekweni).
Kai Woolf (Nelson Mandela Bay), the 2017 Under-16 Girls champion added another SA title to her name by winning the Under-18 Girls final. Former champion Sophie Bell (eThekweni) was second, Tayla de Coning (Buffalo City) came third and Maya Shefer-Boswell (Cape Town) came fourth.
Tide Lee Ireland (eThekweni) took gold in the Under-16 Boys final, edging fellow SA junior team member Mitch du Preez (Buffalo City) into second place. Manoa Robb and York van Jaarsveldt (both Cape Town) came third and fourth respectively.
SA Open Women’s champion and 2014 winner last year, Zoe Steyn (Buffalo City) showed her class in taking the honours in the Under-16 Girls final.
Talented Kayla Nogueira (eThekweni) came second, Ceara Knight (Cape Winelands) was third and Gabi Lailvaux (eThekweni) was fourth. All four surfers are members of the SA junior team going to the ISA World Championships in three weeks’ time.
SA junior team member Luke Thompson (eThekweni) continued his good run of form by winning the Under-14 Boys title. Daniel Emslie (Buffalo City), who was named male Surfer of the Contest, was runner-up with Brad Scott and Connor Slijpen (both Cape Town) taking third and fourth respectively.
A stoked Aimee du Preez (Buffalo City) had a fantastic contest and sealed it with a win in the Under-14 Girls Division. Buffalo City teammate Adriel Wolmarans was second, Chloe Ribbink (eThekweni) came third and Ugu standout Gillmer was fourth.
After some good results in the early rounds, Nate Colby (eThekweni) won gold in the Under-12 Boys Division, beating Kai Hall (Ilembe) into second spot. Buffalo City surfers Josh Malherbe and Joel Fowles were third and fourth respectively.
Dynamic Sarah Scott (Cape Town) not only won the Under-12 crown but was also named as the female Surfer of the Contest.
Anastasia Venter (Cape Winelands) was second, Sea Harvest Surfing Excellence Award winner Zia Hendricks (Nelson Mandela Bay) was third and South Coaster Potgieter (Ilembe) came fourth.
According to Alex Milne, SSA Operations Manager and Event Director, the 2018 national junior championships was a huge success.
“This contest has been amazing. The weather was good, the waves have been contestable and all the surfers have enjoyed themselves. The surfing standard has been really high and it is good to see new faces claiming the titles.
“Without a great partner such as Sea Harvest, Surfing South Africa would not have been able to present a five-star tournament such as this one. We are already looking forward to the 2019 SA Junior Surfing Championships,” said Milne.
The 2018 South African Junior Surfing Championships was sponsored by Sea Harvest, supported by Sport and Recreation SA and the Kouga Municipality and presented by Surfing South Africa.
Photos by Kody McGregor, Claudia Fuchs and Menize Clark