QS competitors have the bittersweet life of travelling the globe, surfing sub-par waves with a trillion other CT graduate hopefuls, crammed in the same space, surfing the same beachie and staying on the same street. It must be a bit of a dog show if you ask me. Imagine travelling to Japan to find one foot onshore slop with a thousand other homies on the same trip. Bummer. How the hell would you find people to do daily write-ups? It would be so boring to read, let alone write!
But in South Africa, the QS is a dreamy affair. Today the waves pumped for the finals of the Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro presented by Reef. Solid 5ft. And powerful. The groms couldn’t properly bury their rails on their bottom turns and I swear I saw Greg Emslie hold a bottom turn for three days round a section.
It was a damn exciting day to be on the beach. Here’s what went down.
Dale Staples – Maturity Comes with Age
It’s funny how as you get older, you command more authority. Naturally. It’s not like one day you wake up, and suddenly people begin to respect you. Instead, it happens gradually. Over time. Dale Staples has a certain elderly calmness about him, an inner peace, an attitude which commands respect. And it comes through in his surfing. Dale, much like his elder statesman, Greg Emslie, has the ability to drop anchor and wait for the bombs. And when the bombs come a-knocking, he converts that ocean energy into well-tabulated scores.
Dale was one of the standouts throughout the event. He reminded us of a Wade Carmicheal. Beastie Boys on the rail. Always pushing hard. His flow, top shelf. And not a stuff will he ever cut any turn short. When he starts a turn, it’ll always (without fail) end where it’s meant to end. In Dale’s semi against the Big Foot, Dale dropped two of the biggest layback hammers we’ve ever seen. The judges awarded it an 8.25 while the spectators awarded it a 9.25 in their hearts.
Dale also won the Big Foot Bounty, disposing of Greg once and for all in the Semifinals. But Dale had beaten Greg in both Round 2 and 4 previously. The open faces of Nahoon Reef allowed Dale to do the surfing he’s good at and we certainly enjoyed the show. Well done Dale!
Michael Hill – The Waterman
Michael’s been on a longboarding tear. He took out the longboarding event at the Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong in PE, pipping Ludi Du Toit and today he stole the win from the stylish Steven Sawyer in the dying minutes.
In Michael’s approach, he reveals his age. An approach garnered by years of experience. Knowledge built upon knowledge. Michael appears to be waterman at heart. Like a Pierre De Villiers-esque character. He’ll way easier shoot a 90cm yellowtail 10 metres underwater and defend it from a hungry 4m G-white before the homie knows how to download Instagram on his iPhone (it would seem).
The ocean resonates through him and the waves he chooses, the moves he goes for, the length of time he’ll wait to get the waves he wants and the simple yet delicate adjustments he makes on the board, all point towards a man who’s spent a life inspired by and dedicated to the ocean. And it’s certainly inspiring to see a man so dedicated to the ocean come out on top, not only because of his skill but to a large degree, his deep understanding of the sea.
Stevie Sawyer – The Showman
Steven Sawyer’s a showman at heart. He’d rather put on a groundbreaking show and turning heads, then place first and let the show die. Watching Stevie surf a heat is probably the exact opposite of watching Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather box. Floyd’s a master of the counterattack. His skill in the counterattack has filled his bank account with millions many times over. But we all know his fights are damn boring to watch. He only cares about the win and subsequently the dollar, thus he defends and counterattacks.
But Steve he’s all about a show. He’d rather lose the loot and put up one great score, that pushed the universal levels of the longboarding trade, then exit the water knowing he’d defended instead of attacked. And shit, don’t we dig it! We dig it! And we hope that kinda attitude never dies. Cause who cares about the money.
Matt McGillivray – Sometimes Life Ain’t Fair
Matt is probably one of the hottest if not the hottest surfer coming out of South Africa right now. He’s amazing. Matt surfed a couple of grindy heats to make the final. His heats weren’t walk throughs. They were damn tough and every time, under tremendous pressure, without knowing scores (cause nobody could hear the PA system) and without fail, Matty would whip together a dope ride to get the score and make the heat. He’d often acquire the score on a subpar wave. Something we’d barely seen from his competitors.
In Matt’s semifinal heat against the dark horse Diran Zakarian, Matt needed a score in the dying minutes of the heat. He wasn’t sure what was required thanks to the dodgy PA system, but he knew it was something substantial. So instead of taking off and surfing the wave safely he took off and busted a massive tail high, no grab air-reverse. It was a wild air. On a big section and a big wave. Matt landed safely in the powder like foam, shifted his feet back and went straight into the next turn. The judges handed him a 9.25 for his efforts. And Matty took the heat. A clutch performance in a stressful situation. Not many homies could pull that off. Not even on a CT level.
Unfortunately due to some priority discrepancies up in the tower, Matty suffered an interference in his final against Dale. It was a shame, cause we were all gearing ourselves towards an epic showdown. But sometimes life ain’t fair and Matty has many more heats and events to win.
Pro Junior Final – Thompson vs Lindhorst vs Slijpen vs Du Preez
The waves poured through during the pro junior final. Nahoon Reef opened up its gates and let the waves in. The surf must’ve been a solid 4 maybe even 5ft on the sets. Lots of push, no lack of power. The groms looked a bit unhinged by the power. A touch wobbly, unable to sink their rails over the lump and bump. But Luke Thompson with his smooth carves and well-linked turns eventually got the score he needed to secure the win over his fellow competitors.