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Archive for August, 2015

Jeremy Flores Triumphs in Tahiti : De Souza Retains Rankings Lead

August 29th, 2015 No comments
Jeremy Flores captured his second elite tour victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti Photo: WSL / Robertson

Jeremy Flores captured his second elite tour victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti Photo: WSL / Robertson

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 29 August 2015

By Paul Botha

Jeremy Flores clinched the prestigious Billabong Pro Tahiti title at the storied surfbreak of Teahupo’o on Tuesday, defeating reigning World Champion and defending event champ Gabriel Medina in the final.

Flores’ victory was all the more remarkable as it came in his first contest appearance since suffering an horrific head injury while free-surfing in a remote area of Indonesia in June. He had to be airlifted out and was then flown straight to France for treatment.

Flores wore a helmet while competing in Tahiti to prevent any further injury on the shallow, razor-sharp coral reef that lies just below the surface at Teahupo’o. The Reunion Island born Frenchman also was very selective, only taking two waves in the difficult to read two metre hollow surf during the final.

He recorded a near-perfect score of 9.87 out of 10 on the first and then adding a 7.0 s while Medina rode eight waves, the best of which earned the Brazilian a 7.17.

Flores stellar run saw him defeat former World Champions Joel Parkinson of Australia and Floridians Kelly Slater and CJ Hobgood on his way to the final and them jump five places to No. 7 on the rankings.

Adriano de Souza of Brazil retained the Jeep rankings leader’s yellow jersey when he and his closest rivals, Australians Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson, all bowed in round three. Owen Wright, who finished equal third with Hobgood, overtook Wilson and moved into third spot with the top five separated by a slender 1 500 points.

Durbanite Jordy Smith has slipped to No. 23 and outside the top 22 who automatically re-qualify for the elite tour next year. Smith injured his knee in Rio de Janeiro in April, missed Fiji and then returned for J-Bay, only to hurt his back which saw him withdraw from Tahiti.

The good news is that the next event is at Trestles in California where Smith is the defending champion and near to the home he set up in San Clemente last year. After Trestles the Tour stops in France and Portugal, where Smith has posted excellent results in past seasons, before ending at Pipeline in Hawaii in December.

The country’s emerging crop of pro competitors have been busy on the Qualifying Series with Umhlanga’s Beyrick de Vries moving up to eight spots to No. 35 on the QS rankings after an excellent third place finish in the Vans Pro at Virginia Beach,USA.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the North Atlantic, the likes of Jeffreys Bay’s Dylan Lightfoot and Matt McGillivray and Durbanites David van Zyl and Slade Prestwich have shown impressive form in both QS and Pro Junior events on the European leg of the series that sees the top 10 in the yearend rankings qualify for the Championship Tour.

Durban’s Shaun Tomson, the 1977 World Champion whose photos adorned the walls of thousands and surfers, both male and female, during the 1970’s and ‘80’s, turned 60 last week. The country’s most influential international surfer, now a motivational speaker, author and movie producer, lives with his family in Santa Barbara, California.

ENDS

Beyrick de Vries Places 3rd in USA : Slade Prestwich Top South African in France

August 24th, 2015 No comments
Beyrick de Vries, pictured here during the US Open of Surfing,shows the form that has seen him climb to No. 35 on the WSL QS rankings  Image: WSL / Morris

Beyrick de Vries, pictured here during the US Open of Surfing,shows the form that has seen him climb to No. 35 on the WSL QS rankings  Image: WSL / Morris

Big Waves Expected for Final Two Days of Billabong Pro Tahiti

Beyrick de Vries earned his second best rankings points haul for 2015 at the Vans Pro on the East coast of the America while Slade Prestwich was the top South African performer at the Sooruz Lacanau Pro on the South West coast of France when the two World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) events ended on opposite sides of the North Atlantic Ocean on Sunday.

De Vries advanced through four rounds of competition and into the Final of the QS 3000 rated Vans Pro held at Virginia Beach in tiny half metre waves. The 22-year-old from Umhlanga finished third overall to earn US $4 750 (approx. R61 000) and 1 680 points, lifting him eight places to No. 35 on the latest WSL QS rankings.

“Happy but hungry for a win this year,” said de Vries on his Facebook page. “Thanks to all the epic people for the support! It’s insane to see how many people get behind you whilst at one of these events. Thanks for the good energy and vibes.”

Michael February was the only other South African at Virginia Beach and the Kommetjie resident was ousted in his opening encounter. MFeb placed equal 33rd and pocketed R10 000 and 360 points that saw him drop 10 places to 75th on the rankings. He is now right on the cusp of qualifying for the remaining highly rated QS events on the 2015 calendar.

The event was won by 18-year-old Californian prodigy Kanoa Igarashi who collected the 3 000 points and moved into the No. 3 spot on the QS rankings.

Meanwhile in France, Prestwich battled his way through small surf and two lay days to advance from the Round of 96 to the last 16 in the QS 3000 rated event before being eliminated in equal 13th place on the final day when the surf increased to 1.5 metres.

His haul of nearly R20 000 and 840 points moved the 20-year-old from Scottburgh up 35 places to No. 152.

Rookie pro Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) impressed in the opening rounds, winning his first two heats and posting the highest heat scores on Day 1. He was ousted in Round 3, one round before the prize-money started, but collected a useful 210 points to add to his 2015 ranking.

Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and recently crowned SA Open Champion, David van Zyl (Glenashley), were both sidelined in their opening encounters, finishing equal 33rd and equal 49th respectively. Dylan Lightfoot placed second in his first heat to progress to the Round of 32 but placed 4th there to finish equal 25th overall, taking home R13 000 and 555 points.

Frenchmen dominated the Lacanau event, filling six of the eight quarterfinal spots, with Reunion Islander Maxime Huscenot claiming his first QS event victory and moving into the top 10 on the rankings.

The next events on the schedule are the QS 1500 rated Anglet Pro which runs from 25 – 30 August at Chambre d’Amour in France and the WRV Outer Banks Pro, a QS 1000 event at Nag’s Head, North Carolina from 26 – 30 August.

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The 16 surfers still in contention for the Billabong Pro Tahiti, the seventh stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), are bracing themselves for double overhead surf as a powerful new swell is expected to arrive today at the dangerous break of Teahupo’o, renowned for its incredibly hollow waves.

Four man-on-man heats featuring the likes of former event winners Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kelly Slater and fellow Floridian CJ Hobgood remain in Round 3 before the three-man non-elimination Round 4 heats commence.

The holding period for the Billabong Pro Tahiti ends on Tuesday and all the action can be followed live at www.worldsurfleague.com starting at 8.3opm (SA Time).

Vans Pro Final Results:
1. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.44, $16,000
2. Noah Schweizer (USA) 13.43, $10,00
3. Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 11.24, $4,750
4. Oney Anwar (IDN) 8.80, $4,250

Vans Pro Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.43, Oney Anwar (IDN) 12.24, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.10, Dylan Graves (PRI) 6.84
Heat 2: Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 12.44, Noah Schweizer (USA) 12.16, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.64, Evan Geiselman (USA) 9.57

SOÖRUZ LACANAU PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 15.60
2 – Nomme Mignot (FRA) 13.60

SOÖRUZ LACANAU PRO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Nomme Mignot (FRA) 16.33 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 14.50
SF 2: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 15.00 def. Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 14.37

SOÖRUZ LACANAU PRO QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Joan Duru (FRA) 17.60 def. Adrien Toyon (FRA) 11.00
QF 2: Nomme Mignot (FRA) 17.10 def. Jorgann Couzinet (REU) 13.34
QF 3: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 17.04 def. Lucas Silveira (BRA) 16.03
QF 4: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 15.77 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.26

SOÖRUZ LACANAU PRO ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Adrien Toyon (FRA) 12.37, Jorgann Couzinet (REU) 11.37, Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.57, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 8.83
Heat 2: Nomme Mignot (FRA) 17.60, Joan Duru (FRA) 15.85, Charly Martin (GLP) 11.57, Nelson Cloarec (FRA) 8.13
Heat 3: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 14.60, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.56, Bino Lopes (BRA) 10.66, Pedro Henrique (PRT) 9.93
Heat 4: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 12.13, Lucas Silveira (BRA) 12.13, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 11.70, Slade Prestwich (ZAF) 8.33

SOÖRUZ LACANAU PRO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jorgann Couzinet (REU) 15.56, Charly Martin (GLP) 11.83, Steven Pierson (PYF) 11.63, Vicente Romero (ESP) 9.17
Heat 2: Deivid Silva (BRA) 14.60, Nelson Cloarec (FRA) 13.57, Mitch Crews (AUS) 11.13, Mateia Hiquily (PYF) 6.60
Heat 3: Nomme Mignot (FRA) 11.60, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 10.10, Tommy Boucaut (FRA) 9.53, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 6.47
Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 17.70, Adrien Toyon (FRA) 10.90, Jean Da Silva (BRA) 9.90, Victor Bernardo (BRA) 8.02
Heat 5: Pedro Henrique (PRT) 10.64, Slade Prestwich (ZAF) 10.63, Mihimana Braye (PYF) 9.00, Timothee Bisso (GLP) 7.27
Heat 6: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 14.34, Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 10.83, Jose Ferreira (PRT) 7.26, Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) 4.50
Heat 7: Lucas Silveira (BRA) 14.17, Bino Lopes (BRA) 8.90, Miguel Tudela (PER) 7.40, Dean Bowen (AUS) 3.57
Heat 8: Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 14.24, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 9.10, Medi Veminardi (REU) 8.83, Mitchell James (AUS) 8.40

WSL QS Rankings
1 Muniz,Alejo BRA 22350
2 Ribeiro,Alex BRA 17850
3 Igarashi,Kanoa USA 16540
4 Toledo,Filipe BRA 16500
5 Flores,Jeremy FRA 16400
6 Ibelli,Caio BRA 15950
7 Callinan,Ryan AUS 15250
8 Duru,Joan FRA 14980
9 Huscenot,Maxime FRA 14650
10 Andino,Kolohe USA 14560

South Africans
35 De Vries,Beyrick ZAF 7790
75 February,Michael ZAF 4407
101 Staples,Dale ZAF 3015
133 Lightfoot,Dylan ZAF 2072
142 Van Zyl,David ZAF 1820
152 Prestwich,Slade ZAF 1640
280 Smith,Jordy ZAF 550
332 McGillivray,Matthew ZAF 410

ENDS

About the World Surf League

The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts each event live at WorldSurfLeague.com where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing — anywhere and anytime it’s on. The WSL sanctions and operates the following tours: the Junior Tour, Longboard Tour, the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour and the crown jewel of the sport, the WSL Championship Tour (CT) which determines the sport’s undisputed world champions. The organization is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with Commercial Offices in New York. The offices are supported by regional centers in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America and South America.

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Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

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Rankings Leader’s Yellow Jersey up for Grabs after Upsets in Tahiti

August 22nd, 2015 No comments
Gabriel Medina shows the form that earned him victory over John John Florence in Tahiti  Photo: WSL / Robertson

Gabriel Medina shows the form that earned him victory over John John Florence in Tahiti Photo: WSL / Robertson

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 22 August 2015

By Paul Botha

The rankings lead on the World Surf League Championship Tour is set to change hands after current leader Adriano de Souza and second placed Mick Fanning were both bundled out of the Billabong Pro Tahiti in major upsets in round three earlier this week.

De Souza has worn the yellow jersey since he won the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the third stop on the 11-event tour that decides the annual World Surfing Champion, back in April. However, his record in the hollow waves of Teahupo’o has been blighted by wildcards over the past four years, and that proved to be the case again this year.

After finishing second to fellow Brazilian and wildcard Bruno Santos in round one, de Souza redeemed himself with a convincing win over local Tahitian wildcard, Taumata Puhetina, only to find himself facing Santos again in round three. Santos, whose prowess at Teahupo’o saw him win the 2010 event as a wildcard, dashed de Souza’s hopes of retaining the rankings lead by repeating his round one victory.

This left the way open for Fanning to claim the yellow jersey, but the Australian who had settled his competitive nerves by winning his first competitive heat since his much publicised shark encounter at Jeffreys Bay last month, simply could not find any high scoring waves and was ousted by hard charging New Zealand rookie Ricardo Christie.

Australians Julian Wilson and Owen Wright along with Brazilian Filipe Toledo, the winner of two events already this year, now have the opportunity to leapfrog de Souza and Fanning into the rankings lead with high place finishes in Tahiti.

The most competitive heat of the year played out just before the drama with the top seeds when arguably the planet’s two most talented young surfers, reigning world champion Gabriel Medina and Hawaiian John John Florence, produced an incredibly high scoring clash in the perfect two metre hollow waves.

Medina, 21, secured the first excellent ride of the duel, scoring 9.07 out of a possible 10 for a deep tube ride. Florence, 22, answered back by freefalling down the face of a wave and getting buried deep inside the tube before coming out sliding sideways and being rewarded with 9.57 by the judges

The Hawaiian consolidated his lead with a 9.07 and Medina came close to the 9.58 he then needed with a 9.27. Florence looked to have clinched the win and berth in the last 12 in the event with a 9.44 but Medina was not to be outdone and he paddled far into the lineup before taking off on a wave that looked unmakeable.

Somehow managing to generate enough speed to burst through the curtain of water as the wave pinched closed, he posted the heat’s highest score of 9.73 and clinched a 19.00 vs. 18.84 point victory.

Organisers are expecting bigger waves for the final two days of the event on Monday and Tuesday. All the action can be watched live at worldsurfleague.com starting at 8pm daily.

ENDS

50th South Africa Surfing Championships Awakens Memories

August 14th, 2015 No comments
Neville Calenbourne rides a giant wave at Ansteys Beach in 1966 Photo: John Thornton

Neville Calenbourne rides a giant wave at Ansteys Beach in 1966 Photo: John Thornton

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 15 August 2015

By Paul Botha

The completion of the 50th annual South African Surfing Championships at Richards Bay last weekend has awakened memories of a bygone era when surfing was considered a fringe activity and not the highly organised global sport performed by professional athletes it has become today.

The first official national championships was held in Durban in July 1966 with provincial teams from Natal, Border (East London), Eastern Province (Port Elizabeth) and Western province (Cape Town) participating. After two days of dismal half metre waves at Dairy Beach, organisers opted to run Saturday’s heats at Ansteys Beach on the Bluff.

After the Junior Men (18-and-under) had been sent out first into overhead two metre waves, the Open Men took to the surf in a rising swell producing consistent three metre waves and occasional four metre sets. Many competitors struggled to paddle through the mountains of whitewater to catch unbroken waves and only the top watermen such as Robbie McWade of Durban and Peter Basford of Cape Town comfortable dealing with the conditions.

Ironically the standout of the day was a non-contestant, Durban lifeguard Neville Calenbourne, who was immortalising when his ride on a five metre high wall of water was captured by photographer John Thornton and published in the following day’s newspaper.

The contest was completed the next day in half metre waves at Dairy Beach with McWade becoming the first South African surfing champion while Capetonians secured the rest of the titles with Donald Paarman in the Junior Men, Margaret Smith in the Women’s division and John Whitmore in the Senior Men (over-35).

The South African Surfing Association (formed in September 1965) then selected their first Springbok surfing team to participate in the ISF World Surfing Championships in San Diego, California that October. The trip, paid for by the United States Surfing Association, saw the Bok team cause a stir on the beach when they arrived for the opening ceremony clad in collars, ties and green blazers amongst the casual and colourful hippie attire worn by their contemporaries from the rest of the surfing world.

Tributes to Peter Daniels have flooded social media and surfing websites globally after the legendary Durban born surfboard shaper passed away in Northern Spain earlier this week. Globally acknowledged for his expertise in designing and hand shaping in excess of 40 000 surfboards in a career spanning more than four decades, ‘Pepsi’ honed his skills while living in Jeffreys Bay in the early 1970’s and produced equipment for many of the world’s best surfers while living according to his own rules in many of the world’s most popular surfing locales.

Daniels and Durban’s ‘Mr Surfing’, Max Wetteland, who passed away in early July, charted the course of modern day surfing through their artistry, energy and having the courage to defy convention and experiment with designs, materials and equipment that have become today’s standards.

The world’s best surfers performing in big, hollow waves at Teahupo’o in Tahiti can be watched live at worldsurfleague.com during the Billabong Pro Tahiti starting at 8.30pm daily until 25 August.

ENDS

 

World’s Best Brace Themselves for Tahiti

August 8th, 2015 No comments
Gabriel Medina will be hoping for rides like this at the upcoming 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti  Photo: WSL / Kirstin

Gabriel Medina will be hoping for rides like this at the upcoming 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti Photo: WSL / Kirstin

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 8 August 2015

By Paul Botha

The world’s best surfers are bracing themselves for the challenge of riding one of the planet’s most dangerous waves when the Billabong Pro Tahiti gets underway at Teahupoo next Friday.

Teahupoo, literally ‘the end of the road’ and colloquially known as Chopes, presents the ultimate test of a surfer’s skill. The long range swells from the South Atlantic rise up out of deep water and hurl themselves over an extremely shallow coral reef, creating some of the hollowest tubes anywhere.

Last year’s event was won by Brazilian sensation Gabriel Medina whose flawless performance in triple overhead perfect barrels amazed everyone. Medina only suffered one wipe-out in the entire event, and that was in the Final where he went on to defeat multiple world and event champion Kelly Slater in a major upset.

South Africa’s Jordy Smith, who broke a couple of ribs at Chopes in 2011, had what he called the worst wipe-out of his life there last year. During Round 2, Smith was annihilated by a huge wave and then had to deal with three more mountains of white-water while scrambling around on the razor-sharp coral before the safety crew on Jetskis could pick him up and drag him to the safety of the channel.

Medina has had a torrid start to the defence of his 2014 World Title but showed a welcome return to form at Jeffreys Bay and will go into next week’s event as one of the favourites again. Others to watch will be the 43-year-old Slater, Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence and Owen Wright whose record setting perfect 20 point heat totals in Fiji demonstrated the Australian’s supreme skills in big, hollow, left-breaking waves.

There is a 12 hour time difference between Tahiti and South Africa so the live webcasts on worldsurfleague.com start around 8pm each evening and will be well worth following.

Bianca Buitendag has elevated herself into World Title contention after placing third in the Vans US Open of Surfing in California last weekend. Missing out on a third consecutive Final on the WSL Championship Tour by just 0.01 of a point when she was eliminated in the semis by close friend and eventual event winner Johanne Defay from Reunion Island, Buitendag nevertheless earned enough points to leapfrog two positions into fourth place on the rankings with four events remaining on the 2015 calendar.

Beyrick de Vries from Umhlanga also boosted his ratings, moving up to No. 43 on the Qualifying Series rankings, while Dylan Lightfoot from Jeffreys Bay placed a creditable 7th in the Pro Junior event at Huntington Beach.

The 50th annual Citroën South African Surfing Championships are currently underway in Richards Bay where competitors ranging in age from 16 to over 60 from eight regions are contesting both individual and team honours. The sport has certainly come a long way since the first official SA Champs which were held at the Wedge at the bottom of what was then West Street in July 1966!

ENDS

Bikini and Surfing World Records to be Challenged at Earthwave Beach Festival

August 6th, 2015 No comments
Hundreds of girls of all shapes and sizes line up for an attempt to set a new record for the ‘Largest Bikini Parade’ on the Gold Coast of Australia Photo: Guinnessworldrecords.com

Hundreds of girls of all shapes and sizes line up for an attempt to set a new record for the ‘Largest Bikini Parade’ on the Gold Coast of Australia Photo: Guinnessworldrecords.com

The Guinness World Records for the ‘Largest Bikini Parade’ and the ‘Most Surfers on the Same Wave’ will be challenged when the seventh edition of the Earthwave Beach Festival is held at Surfers’ Corner in Muizenberg, Cape Town on the weekend 26 and 27 September.

This popular annual celebration of the beach lifestyle features a host of wave-riding and beach activities, a Beach Bar and entertainment, including local live acts, and exhibitions, demonstrations and talks to promote environmentally friendly products and services, sustainable lifestyles and to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes.

“We’re very happy to announce that an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest Bikini Parade’ has been registered at the 2015 Earthwave Beach Festival’ says Paul Botha from the organisers Kahuna Promotions, who co-founded the Earthwave concept with his son Dene.

“We’re confident that the enthusiastic Cape Town beach community that has enabled us to set and retain the world record for the most surfers on the same wave since 2006 will also support this attempt to claim the bikini parade record,” he added.

The record for the bikini parade has grown from 331 in the Caymen Islands in 2010 to 357 on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2011, 450 in Florida, USA, in March 2012 and currently stands at a massive 1 085 girls who paraded for 1.6 kilometres (one mile) in Huludao City, China in July 2012.

Despite several attempts to improve on the numbers of surfers riding the same wave in Brazil, Holland, California, Australia and England in recent years, that record still stands at 110 set in the gentle rolling waves at Muizenberg during the 2009 Earthwave Beach Festival.

In addition to the record attempts the surf will be alive with the hundreds of participants in the Western Cape Development Surfing Championships, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) races and free learn to surf lessons while the beach is the venue for touch rugby, demos of the latest wave-riding equipment and the popular Dig For Gold competition where youngsters search for dozens of valuable prizes buried in the sand.

Exhibits and sales of ecologically sound products and services, beachwear and equipment, talks by experts on sustainable lifestyles, surf movies, the Beach Bar and entertainment will be housed in the Muizenberg Pavilion right on the water’s edge overlooking all the action.

For more information on how to participate in events or promote your company / brand at the 2015 Earthwave Beach Festival contact the organisers at kahunasurf@mweb.co.za

ENDS

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Bianca Buitendag Ranked No. 4 in World After 3rd Place at Vans US Open of Surfing

August 4th, 2015 No comments
Bianca Buitendag pushing the limits on her way to third place in the Vans US Open of Surfing and No. 4 on the World rankings  Image: WSL / Rowland

Bianca Buitendag pushing the limits on her way to third place in the Vans US Open of Surfing and No. 4 on the World rankings  Image: WSL / Rowland

Beyrick de Vries Places 9th and Jumps to No. 43 on QS Men’s Rankings

Bianca Buitendag and Beyrick de Vries made significant upward moves on their respective World Surf League (WSL) rankings after impressive performances in the women’s and men’s events at the Vans US Open of Surfing, which was completed in glassy but inconsistent waves at Huntington Beach in California on Sunday.

Buitendag rose two places to No.4 on the WSL Women’s Championship Tour (CT) rankings and into contention for the 2015 World title when she placed third overall in the event. The 21-year-old from Victoria Bay missed out on her third consecutive Dream Tour Final when she was outscored by just one hundredth of a point by close friend and eventual event winner Johanne Defay from Reunion Island in their semifinal clash.

Buitendag has been on form for the past two months, reaching the Final in the last two events in Fiji and Rio de Janeiro and finishing second at both events after a slow start to the season in Australia. She caused the biggest upset of the US Open by eliminating two-time World and event champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the quarterfinals which saw the Hawaiian lose the Jeep rankings lead to Courtney Conlogue (USA).

Buitendag and her boyfriend chaired the champion from the water’s edge to the podium after Defay clinched the title by defeating Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in a nail-biting Final that saw the lead change hands in the dying moments.

“It’s pretty amazing, I could never imagine that I could win here or that I could win an event,” Defay said. “I just took it heat by heat and it’s so crazy. This is definitely my biggest win. Ending up last year at eighth on the rankings I thought maybe I could do top five so we’ll see what happens this year.”

De Vries, the only South African in the men’s event, posted his best result of the year by advancing through three rounds of the QS10,000 rated men’s event before falling to top seed and current World No.4 Filipe Toledo (BRA) in a man-on-man Round 4 duel. The 22-year-old from Umhlanga stuck to his game plan of waiting for the bigger waves but ultimately could not match Toledo’s high scoring aerial manoeuvres in the small inconsistent waves.

The event was won by Hiroto Ohhara who became the first Japanese surfer to reach the final and win a QS10,000 ranked event when he defeated another surprise finalist in Tanner Hendrickson (HAW).

His ninth place finish earned de Vries 3 700 points, vaulting him from 76th to 43rd on the QS rankings and guaranteeing him entry into the elite 96-man fields for the five remaining QS10,000 events on the 2015 schedule. Along with his base points for finishing 2014 ranked 49th, de Vries will also benefit from a higher seeding in all the QS events for the rest of the year.

The next highest QS ranked South African is Michael February from Kommetjie who was a standout in the first two rounds of the trials for the US Open but lost the chance to grab one of the two spots for trialists in the main event when he was eliminated in the semis. February, now ranked No. 74, also qualifies directly for the remainder of the QS10,000 events as the criteria changes from previous year’s ranking to current year’s ranking after the Huntington Beach event.

Other Saffas to enhance their reputations at the US Open include Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) and Shane Sykes (Salt Rock). Lightfoot recorded several of the highest point’s totals as he made his way into the semifinals of the Pro Junior men, finishing equal seventh overall, while Sykes reached the quarterfinals of the event before being eliminated in equal 13th place.

All the results, images, video footage and more from the Vans US Open of Surfing can be found at www.worldsurfleague.com and http://www.vansusopenofsurfing.com

Vans Open of Surfing – Huntington Beach, CA, USA

Women’s CT Final Results:
1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.54
2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.83

Women’s CT Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.17 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.16
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.83 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.50

Men’s QS 10,000 Final Results:
1: Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 14.50
2: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 12.90

Men’s QS 10,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 13.50 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.16
SF 2: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 13.24 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.07

WSL CT Women’s Rankings (After US Open)
1. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 43,400 points
2. Carissa Moore (HAW) 43,000
3. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 37,600
4. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF, Victoria Bay) 32,750
5. Lakey Peterson (USA) 32,500

WSL QS Men’s Rankings (After US Open)
1. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 22,350 points
2. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 18,750
3. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16,500
4. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16,400
5. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15,750

43. Beyrick de Vries (ZAF, Umhlanga) 6,660
74. Michael February (ZAF, Kommetjie) 4,137
105. Dale Staples (ZAF, St Francis Bay) 2,745

ENDS

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts each event live at WorldSurfLeague.com where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing — anywhere and anytime it’s on. The WSL sanctions and operates the following tours: the Junior Tour, Longboard Tour, the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour and the crown jewel of the sport, the WSL Championship Tour (CT) which determines the sport’s undisputed world champions. The organization is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with Commercial Offices in New York. The offices are supported by regional centers in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America and South America.

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Scintillating Performances at US Open Boost SA Surfing Community

August 1st, 2015 No comments
Bianca Buitendag caused a major upset by defeating current World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW) in the quarterfinals of the US Open of surfing on Thursday  Photos: WSL / Morris

Bianca Buitendag caused a major upset by defeating current World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW) in the quarterfinals of the US Open of surfing on Thursday Photos: WSL / Morris

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 1 August 2015

By Paul Botha

Scintillating performances by the South African surfers competing in the Vans US Open of Surfing in California have boosted the morale of the local surfing community after what can only be described as a dismal showing during the SA Leg of the World Surf League during July.

Starting last Sunday at Huntington Beach, America’s official ‘Surf City’, the US Open is the showpiece of North American surfing and arguably the biggest surf festival / beach party on the planet. Featuring WSL events for men, women and Pro Junior (20-and-under) boys and girls, alongside longboard surfing, skateboarding, BMX, music and dozens of retail outlets, the eight-day beach extravaganza attracts tens of thousands of spectators.

The SA challenge got off to a great start when Michael February from Kommetjie posted the highest heat tally of Round 1 in an all-star 32-man trials field for the QS10,000 men’s event. February impressed again by winning his Round 2 heat but came up just short in the semis, missing out on the chance to earn one of the two trialists slots into the main event.

Dylan Lightfoot from Jeffreys Bay and Salt Rock’s Shane Sykes both shone while progressing through two heats each to reach the quarterfinals of the Pro Juniors while Beyrick de Vries from Umhlanga carved his way through the first two rounds of the men’s event, sidelining higher rated opponents along the way.

Meanwhile Bianca Buitendag, SA’s sole representative on the elite WSL Women’s Championship Tour, made world headlines on Thursday when she upset current World No. 1 and two-time World and event champion Carissa Moore (HAW) to reach the semifinals of the women’s event.

The lanky 21-year-old from Victoria Bay – at 1.85 metres she’s the tallest girl in the elite Top17 – won the US Open Pro Junior crown a couple of years back and faces close friend Johanne Defay from France in the semis on Sunday. Buitendag has already recorded her best US Open result and earned enough points to move into the Top 5 in the rankings even if she doesn’t reach the final.

These positive results provide some solace for the local showing in the Ballito Pro and the J-Bay Open last month where just one local surfer progressed through a single heat – David van Zyl from Glenashley who advanced to Round 2 in Ballito before being ousted.

Of the19 locals in the Ballito Pro Trials, the only standout was Matt McGillivray, 18, from Jeffreys Bay who won three consecutive heats before placing third in the final. Jordy Smith, Dale Staples, de Vries and February all stumbled at their first hurdle in the main event.

It was a similar story at J-Bay where an injured Smith, February (a last minute injury replacement) and trials winner Slade Prestwich from Scottburgh all went two for zero and finished equal 25th. Even in the WSL rated Billabong Junior Series, the small international contingent dominated with Lightfoot claiming second place at his home break.

The partisan SA surfing community will be hoping that their warriors have turned the corner at the US Open and will continue to post the results their talent deserves for the rest of 2015.

ENDS