Windguru predicted a massive swell for the final day of the waiting period. A massive swell combined with pumping winds. It was always going to be a dodgy affair, Port Elizabeth is extremely sensitive to swell direction and if there’s a touch too much west in the swell, it’ll render the bay flat as a pancake. Lucky for us the surf gods smiled on our affairs and we arrived to find Pipeline on the pump. The wind was also pumping but you can’t have everything you wish for in life. Dylan Lightfoot walked past and mentioned that it was some of the best Pipe he’s ever surfed… not bad for a surf contest. Here’s a rundown of what happened in the finals of each division.
All images Ian Thurtell
Pro Junior Women’s Final – Minami owns the division
The pro junior women’s division had been dominated from the outset by Minami Nonaka. Her surfing throughout the competition remained head and shoulders above the rest, a fact that didn’t change on finals day. She got the highest heat score total of the quarterfinals, 12.95, the highest heat score total of the semifinals, 11.25, and certainly the highest heat score total of the finals. The conditions over the three days of competition changed dramatically. It went from onshore, bumpy, stormy and flat to windless, rippable bowls. On finals day it was big and windy. But there was one constant throughout: Minami remained a standout. She adapted perfectly to the marked change in conditions and consistently found herself on the best waves. Whatever training Wade Sharp is doing with Minami Nonaka, it certainly is working.
Special mention must be made of Ceara Knight whose surfing has improved leaps and bounds since last year. Ceara’s surfing has taken on a new confidence. She surfs with the belief that she can win and that she’s the best. Ceara posed the only real threat to Minami though the draw, hopefully she can go one better at PA and steal the win from her.
Pro Junior Men’s Final – Eli Beukes doesn’t hold back
If you could describe Eli Beukes’ approach in one word it would be ‘unhinged’. Eli surfs with reckless abandon. In the open division that reckless abandon got the better of him and he mistimed all his manoeuvres, rendering him knocked out in the quarterfinals. Bitten by the ‘over-froth’ bug. But in the pro junior division, Eli must have made his way to the Summerstrand pharmacy because he turned his over-froth into a calculated, unhinged approach. When the wave stands up, Eli belts it as hard as he can. And when there’s an air section, Eli ‘sends it’! Matthew Mcgillivary isn’t around this year, he’s chasing big boy QS points around the globe, but we’ve found our replacement in the form of Eli. In the Pro Junior Final, Eli obtained a 9.00 point ride for embellishing a left with multiple backhand hooks which he backed up with a 6.00. He then paddled over to Luke Thompson and sat on him like Sumo Wrestler for the rest of the heat. It was a brilliantly put together heat and Eli was a standout throughout the event… a deserved winner.
Special mention must be made of Luke Thomspon and Ntando Nqdala. Luke for surfing with a maturity well beyond his 14 years and coming second. Ntando for entering this event as a wildcard and surfing his way to the finals!
Open Women’s Final – Minami goes back-to-back
The women’s final was an all-Japanese affair. We’d feared this might happen from the open women’s first round and it came true. The Japanese four; Julie Nishimoto, Shino Matsuda, Ren Hashimoto and Minami Nonaka had been surfing circles around their competitors since round one. Rain or shine, offshore or onshore, big or small, anything, anytime, anywhere, the Japanese four dominated competition. The final was like an exhibition of excellent competition surfing and we all stood on the beach making notes. In the end, it was Minami Nonaka who emerged the victor but it was the Japanese Four that stole the show.
Open Men’s Final – Joshe’s redemption song
Halfway through Joshe’s quarterfinal heat it looked like the wheels were about to come off. He was lying fourth, everyone else in the heat had two fairly good scores and Joshe had nothing. It looked like it was going to be classic Joshe: he’d start taking off on anything that moves, go too big and fall. But that was not about to happen again. He found himself a left, did three lightning fast forehand off-the-lips, paddled back out and straight into a reeling right which he garnished with three backhand speed jams. Joshe went from nowhere to first in a matter of five minutes. Joshe’s quarterfinal win was the catalyst to something bigger. It was in that quarterfinal heat that Joshe realised that he didn’t need to blow the brains out of a wave to get the score. He simply needed to stay focused, composed and portray classically good surfing. In his final heat Joshe did just that; he stayed focused, composed and didn’t fall. His first scoring ride was a wonderful forehand wave surfed with incredible flow and flare. He ended the wave off with a crazy sick blow tail drop wallet. On his second scoring ride he lavished a right-hander with a couple critical backhand whips ending in the shoreline and giving the judges a bit of filthy stink eye. The old Joshe would’ve crumbled under the pressure, falling on simple manoeuvres but the new Joshe is cool, calm and collected and suddenly, he believes he can beat the best.
Enjoy this here gallery of the day’s action courtesy of Ian Thurtell.