Day two of the Nelson Mandela Surf Pro and Pipeline presented us with a slight improvement in surf conditions and a remarkable improvement in the weather. The sun came out; the rain ceased and the onshore subsided. Things were looking up but Pipeline presented us with a morning curve ball; a death glare from Satan’s pit of sin. If you didn’t have optical protection, the sun would’ve burnt a hole right through your retinas. The first half of the day’s competition was spent trying to distinguish red rashies from blues. The relentless hustle and bustle in the judge’s tower did however slowly dissipate as the sun moved overhead.
By the time the pro junior men’s quarterfinal heats rolled around, the ocean no longer looked like the Boardwalk Casino but cleaned up enough to determine good from bad waves. First to take advantage of the change was Jbay local Angelo Faulkner. As the hooter signalling the start of Angelo’s heat sounded, Angelo found himself a gorgeous right-hand runner. A needle in the haystack. He timed his off-the-bottom, off-the-top combos with phenomenal poise. Elongated bottom turns to electric hooks. A sight to behold and a welcome change from the ‘Huntington Hop’ that had plagued us all morning.
All images Ian Thurtell.
On to the women’s quarterfinals where the daughters of the land of the rising sun continued their dominance. There was a Japanese woman for every quarterfinal heat and they won each heat with ease. As the moon made its circumference around the earth, the tide slowly filled in and the (rippable) split peak bowl synonymous to Pipeline showed its face. The first to take advantage were the Japanese, who consistently found the most bang-able rip bowls! Julie Nishimoto was first to strike, she found a point break style rip bowl and it stood up like a soldier standing to attention. Julie proceeded to beat that thing up with limited remorse. The judges deemed her efforts a 7.50. The highest wave score of the day thus far.
Next to strike, Ren Hashimoto, who like Nishimoto found herself a rippable right she obliged. She embellished the wave with two lip blitzes which the judges took a healthy shining to, awarding her with an 8.25. Special mention must be made of Kayla Nogueira who found a delightful little left she canned to the beach. It was a last-minute effort that promoted her campaign to an advancing position and onto the semifinals.
Quarterfinal two of the men’s division saw two underdogs, Simo Mkhize and Paul Sampson take on two big names, Joshe Faulkner and Tide-Lee Ireland. Tide-Lee took an early lead leaving Simo and Paul fighting for second place. And Joshe, Joshe was lost, like a child in the woods with no cellphone. Halfway through the heat and Joshe looked like he was about to crumble like a poorly cooked cake. You see, earlier in the day Joshe had laughed at the thought of Paul beating him in their quarterfinal match-up, an exchange which Joshe made evident when we conducted an Insta story with the two. But Joshe suddenly found himself in a pressure cooker situation: 10 minutes left with nothing to show. Joshe proceeded to sneak his way around the lineup like a man wearing camouflage. He reeled his emotions back in, stopped trying big moves and went back to basics. First dropping a 6.40 for three solid forehand whips proceeded by a 5.65 for three-speed jam backhand whacks. Joshe hopped into first, shifting Tide into second and Simo and Paul into 3rd and fourth, respectively.
In quarterfinal heat 3 we got to witness the impeccable flow of Koby Oberholzer. When surfing a wave, Koby never looks like he’s trying too hard. On Koby’s first scoring ride, he took off on a closeout and proceeded to drop a (giant) man-sized layback, a Goliath-sized drop wallet. And oh, did it please the judges, 5.25 for his efforts. On his second scoring ride, Koby found himself a delightful double-up left and garnered it with two exceptionally timed backhand hacks. Koby displays wonderful respect for the art of surfing. You’ll never see him pump a wave like a man flogging a dying horse in an attempt to connect a small reform for one more little horrible forced hack. No, sir. Koby surfs like a musician who refuses to write a pop song even though it’s what the label requires. He refuses to sell out, no matter how rich it’ll make him. He remains true to his art form, true to his roots; speed, power flow, oozing flair and perfect timing. It’s pleasing to the eye and replenishes the soul. Watching Koby surf is like when a Platterlander makes his/her way to the ocean for an annual commute, it replenishes and refreshes the soul. Can’t wait to see what he does in the semis.
The day concluded with the Red Bull Flare Show. A wonderful initiative where an individual who does the most flared-out manoeuvre wins himself 5k. Paul Sampson won the Red Bull Flare Show for a double-rail grab backhand straight air. Something we’ve never seen before and something Paul kinda made up on the spot. Captain Kai named it the Masala Gatsby which was approved by Paul.
Stay tuned for finals day where we will crown the winners of all divisions but for now, enjoy this here gallery courtesy of Ian Thurtell.