Finals day of the Billabong Junior Series presented by All Aboard Travel offered a contestable stage for the third stop of the grom invasion. A busy South African season has seen a steady increase in the standard of surfing as the juniors are vying for that top spot in the rankings.
The little humans on 4’11’s led the brigade as they charged Ballito’s unforgiving shore break. Semi finals began with the u/12’s, moving up in age and class as the day progressed.
By midday the light onshore breeze had picked up, further ruffling the shifty line up.
The women’s premier division semi-finals was a 50/50 match up of local and international blood. Despite getting a win over her the day before, KZN local Sne Makubu lost to the in-form Hawaiian Zoe McDougall. East london’s Zoe Steyn made an impressive appearance in the u/18 girls semis at just fourteen years old but lost out to the experienced Australian Pacha Luque-Light.
The u/18 boys semi-finals were finals in their own right with JBay local Angelo Faulkner and Cape Town’s Ethan Fletcher in heat 1 and Capetonian Adin Masencamp matched up against Brazilian Samuel Pupo – brother of CT surfer Miguel. Just the day before Samuel claimed Adin to be his biggest threat.
“Back home the waves are exactly like this – average beach breaks, so I am feeling really comfortable,” said Pupo after his quarterfinal win. “I think Adin is for sure a danger in the heat for me. He’s a strong guy and really good on the rail game.”
A close heat it was with Pupo’s winning heat total of 16,50 overtaking Masencamp’s 14,77.
The conditions were triple overhead for the u/12 boys final’s but that did not deter them from attacking the lip. Kyra Bennie stole the show when he opened his account with a 9.17 after a series of mature manoeuvres. Kai Hall earned an impressive second place leaving C Jay Posthumus in third and Ben Ribbink in fourth.
The u/14 girls had been showing serious gees throughout the event. Ceara Knight earned the buzzer beater win after nipping a wave that allowed for a series of backhand snaps and a redirect on the inside. Zoe Steyn settled for a close second with Lhea Johnston and Caroline Brown third and fourth respectively.
Daniel Emslie and Mitch Du Preez have been turning heads in the u/14 division. But it was Mitch’s final for the taking after he backed his 8.5 with a perfect 10-point ride – those backhand cracks were enough to make a grown man weep. The buzzer ended with the field combed and Daniel Emslie in second, Nate Spalding in third and Jordan Boshoff in fourth.
The u/16 girls saw another buzzer beater as Kayla Nogueira demonstrated just how well suited Ballito is for surfers on the backhand with a brilliant 9 point ride. It was a gritty fight that saw Tayla De Coning finish second ahead of Sne Makubub in third and Summer Sutton in fourth. The young boys and girls have left us feeling confident in the future of SA’s grommmets.
Luke Slijpen went on to dominate the u/16 boys finals with some some seriously explosive surfing. Saxton Randall just couldn’t quite match the tempo set by Luke and settled for second ahead of Angelo Faulkner and York Van Jaarsveldt.
The international stars put on a great show in the u/18 girls finals with Pacha Light and Zoe McDougall going head to head. But Zoe has been on a winning streak throughout the South African circuit and secured yet another victory with an 8,83 and a 7,33.
In the premier boys division final, Ethan Fletcher seriously gained back the momentum of his winning younger years and displayed surfing with style like Jordy. But the onshore wind lifted the sails of Pupo’s air game and he stomped the victory with a pair of 8’s.
“The surfing has risen to an awesome level,” said contest director Jono Hutchinson. “This wave is really different to the other stops on the junior series but the guys have really stepped it up, especially Ethan in that final. It was also great to have some international blood to push the guys and gauge the level.”
They day ended with Calvin Goor sticking the punt for the VZ Airshow win. The juniors will be hanging around for the Ballito Pro trials tomorrow where they will fight for a spot in the QS 10 000. The ladies will be getting ready for their QS 1000 event on the weekend and lovers of the sport will be frothing to drool over the best in the game as the QS Prime kicks off next week. Stay tuned!