10 April, 2017 10 April, 2017

Epic Performances In First WQS Of SA Season

The Nelson Mandela Bay Pro WQS 1000 saw consistent conditions unfold throughout the competition – consistent in this case means three days of pumping onshore. With the low tide in the mornings the wild and washy 1-2 meter peaks were breaking 150 meters out at sea, with heavy rips. But as the tide filled in the inside section turned on, resulting in some highly contestable, albeit tricksy, conditions.

An early morning line up.

On day two Michael February demonstrated the scoring potential by backing up a 10-point ride with a 9.75.

“I started the heat super far out and that first one just popped up next to me,” said MFeb of his quarterfinal. “I did a couple of turns and the wave kept delivering so I rode it all the way to the beach. It was a long paddle back but I heard that I got a nine something, so I just needed a decent backup. Then I went left on a wave that allowed me three big turns and was stoked to be awarded the ten!”

There was no real way of knowing where to sit or which waves were going to run or flatten out. It was often a healthy dose of luck (and making the most of the opportunities that presented themselves) that saw surfers advance. Being surf fit and having the ability to milk each wave for what it was worth, also helped. Only South Africa’s best could make such wild and wooly conditions look fun.

Crystal Hulett demonstrated great power and flow.

The final day of the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong wrapped up three days of high performance surfing action. Michael February and Crystal Hulett took out the Men’s and Women’s titles respectively while Jake Elkington and Kayla Nogueira clinched the Junior men’s and Women’s crowns.

MFeb made seemingly impossible sections as he effortlessly connected long rides all the way to the beach, cruising over flats and performing powerful manoeuvres whenever the opportunities presented. Dylan Lightfoot kept pace for the first half of the 25 minute final, but an excellent ride by February late in the heat left Lightfoot scrambling for a wave. Jarred Veldhuis, the dark horse, earned an impressive third place. Not bad for a WQS noob, unlike the rest of the finalists. Beyrick de Vries, the 2016 WSL Africa champion, settled for fourth.

From the first heat Dylan Lightfoot was looking to be a potential winner.

Crystal Hulett found the best runner of the women’s final and earned a 7.67 before adding a mid-range 4.27 to clinch her first WSL QS event title. Emma Smith held a second place result over Nicole Pallet and Australian Tayla Hanak.

“This is 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. This win has given me so much confidence. I’m really pleased about the amount of local support for women’s surfing – it’s wonderful!”

Emma Smith was quick on her feet but had to settle for second place.

The Junior Men’s final was dominated by the Elkington brothers from Kommetjie, with younger brother Max leading until the last minute when older sibling Jake managed to break his third place spell and rode the highest scoring wave of the 25 minute clash to grab the victory. It was Luke Slijpen in the third place spot at the end of the heat with Calvin Goor in fourth.

“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. ‘It 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. This win has really given me confidence and I’m looking forward to East London next weekend.

Jake Elkington broke the third place curse with an impressive win.

Nogueira has been on roll by continuously claiming victories outside of her age group. The 13 year-old snagged the u/18 WSL Junior win over Sophie Bell with Julia Ploughmann and Kirsty McGillivray coming third and fourth respectively.

“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 was a real boost to my confidence and it feels really great.”

Confidence was boosted, points were gained and rivalries kindled – the second stop of the WQS 1000 series will take place this coming weekend in East London. If the level of surfing is anything like this event, the competition is going to be intense.

Kayla Nogeuira read the waves flawlessly.

*ALL IMAGES BY IAN THURTELL.

Nicole Pallet has spent the first half of the year competing in QS events in Aus.

MFeb left no section unused.

Powerhouse Luke Slijpen.

Kirsty McGillivray was looking good for the win but struggled to find the right waves in the finals.

Joshe Faulkner put on an impressive performance by making the semi’s of both the WQS and the WJS.

Danielle Johnson throwing buckets.

Young Daniel Emslie gave the older boys a run for their money.

WQS campaigner Beyrick De Vries.

Angelo Faulkner was looking good before an unlucky heat.

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