February, Hulett, Elkington and Noguera Take Titles at Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro
The inaugural Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong wrapped up three days of high performance surfing action on Sunday with Michael February (Kommetjie) and Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay) taking out the Men’s and Women’s titles respectively while Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) and Kayla Nogueira (Durban) clinched the Junior men’s and Women’s crowns.
The first internationally rated World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) events to be staged in Port Elizabeth enjoyed contestable and testing surf for the three days and featured 128 competitors, including South Africa’s top exponents and entrants from the USA and Australia.
February demonstrated why he is country’s highest ranked QS surfer by dominating throughout, leaving his opponents in combination situations and needing to replace their best two scores at the end of heats, including the Men’s final. Surfing with unparalleled speed, power and flow, the 23 year-old Capetonian effortlessly connected long rides all the way to the beach, cruising over flat sections and performing powerful manoeuvres when ever the opportunity presented itself.
Fellow QS campaigner Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) kept pace for the first half of the 25 minute final, but an excellent 8.67 by February late in the heat left Lightfoot, third placed Jarred Veldhuis (Kommetjie) and fourth placed Beyrick de Vries, the 2016 WSL Africa champion, all requiring 16.01 points for victory.
“Super happy with that result. I haven’t won an event for a couple of years and that’s my first QS1,000 event title,” said February. “The final was tricky, the waves were really far out and you couldn’t hear what the situation was, but after I’d had two decent rides I stayed close to Dylan (Lightfoot) and Jarred (Veldhuis) and used my priority to keep them off the good ones.
“It’s good to be home and be able to pick up the maximum points available and move up the rankings. I’m feeling positive and motivated for the rest of the events here and to wearing the rankings leader’s jersey next week.”
February pocketed R10,000 and 1,000 coveted rankings points that will see him vault from 91st into the top 40 on the QS leaderboard and he will wear the Skullcandy zebra striped ranking leader’s vest at the next event on the City Surf Series in East London next weekend.
Hulett, who scraped into the women’s final after losing half of one of her scores when she incurred an interference penalty in her semifinal match-up. But the youngest competitor in the last four went on to defeat her more experienced rivals, posting the highest score of the encounter, a 7.67 out of 10, before adding a mid-range 4.27 to clinch her first WSL QS event title.
“That’s my first big win and It’s a kind of weird feeling,” said Hulett. “To compete against my idols and people I look up to like Faye (Zoetmulder) and to match them is amazing. I’ve done the hardest training ever and this win has given me so much confidence. And I’m really pleased about the amount of support for women’s surfing – it’s wonderful!”
The Junior Men’s final was dominated by the Elkington brothers from Kommetjie, with younger brother Max leading until the last minute when Jake rdoe the highest scoing wave of the final to grab victory.
“I got that 7.23 in the last 30 seconds and I was really stoked to overtake Max and get my first WSL Junior title,’ said Jake. ‘I gives me the early lead in the WSL Africa junior rankings and will hopefully help me to secure a place in the squad for the WSL World Junior Championships in Australia in January. The win has really given me confidence and I’m looking forward to East London next weekend.
Nogueira has been on roll for the past three weeks with the 13 year-old Durbanite surfing to victories winning both the U14 and U16 titles on successive weekends before capturing the18-and-under title today. She stuck to her strategy and made sure that she caught to waves that gave her the opportunity to score a pair of five point rides.
“My first JQS win felt really good and hopefully I’ll be able to do it again,” said Nogueira. “I don’t feel intimidated by the older girls, I’ve surfed against them a couple of times before, but this a real boost to my confidence and it feels really great.”
The winners were presented with their trophies and cheques by Athol Trollip, the Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Athol Trollip. The Mayor also presented special commemorative trophies to the 2016 WSL Africa champions Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), Faye Zoetmulder (Cape St Francis), Adin Masencamp (Strand) and Sophie Bell (Salt Rock).
More than 50 excited youngsters had the time of their lives at the event today as part of a Surfing South Africa Outreach initiative that saw them participate in a Tag Team surfing event and a coaching clinic, as well as relay races and an Easter egg hunt at the beach.
Run by SSA Development Officer Danielle Johnson and SSA Event coordinator Shirley Fairall, the participants came from Missionvale, Motherwell and Jeffreys Bay and were supported by Volkswagen and the National Lotteries Commission.
Results, images and video footage from the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro will be available on www.WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL App, with highlights on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro
1. Michael February (Kommetjie) 1,000 pts
2. Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) 750 pts
3. Jarred Veldhuis (Kommetjie) 560 pts
4. Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) 525 pts
1. Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay) 1,000 pts
2. Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay) 750 pts
3. Nicole Pallet (La Lucia) 560 pts
4. Tayla Hanak (Australia) 525 pts
Junior Men’s Final
1. Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) 1,000 pts
2. Max Elkington (Kommetjie) 750 pts
3. Luke Slijpen (Cape Town) 560 pts
4. Calvin Goor (Salt Rock) 525 pts
Junior Women’s Final
1. Kayla Nogueira (Durban) 1,000 pts
2. Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) 750 pts
3. Julia Ploughman (Cape Town) 560 pts
4. Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) 525 pts
The Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong is supported by Volkswagen, Corona, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Yesman, Tsogo Sun, Skullcandy, El Jimador and Accelerate Sport.
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.
Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.
About Surfing South Africa
Surfing South Africa is recognised governing body for all disciplines of surfriding in South Africa by the Department of Sport and Recreation. SSA is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).
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