The three women in the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African Surfing team all remained in contention for higher honours by posting good results on Day 2 of the ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) presented by Vans in Miyazaki Japan on Sunday.
Organisers ran through Rounds 2 and 3 of the Women’s Main Event and also completed Round 1 and half of Round 2 of the Repercharge stream which saw the first competitors eliminated. The historic event will crown Men’s and Women’s individual champions, the top surfing nation, the Aloha Cup champions and decide the first continental qualifiers for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Recently crowned SA Women’s champion Zoe Steyn delivered South Africa’s first two heat wins of the event, easily outpointing her rivals from Germany and China in Round 1 and then finishing just 0.10 ahead of Peony Knight (GBR) in Round 2.
Competing in only her second ISA WSG event, the East London based teenager then came up against seasoned international campaigners Rachel Presti (Germany) and Anali Gomez (Peru) in Round 3. Despite her best efforts, Steyn finished in third place, a heart-breaking four/hundredths of a point (0.04) behind Gomez, and South Africa’s rising star will resume her challenge in Women’s Repercharge Round 4.
Bianca Buitendag opened her Day 2 account with a runner-up finish behind event standout Caroline Marks (USA) before going on to win her Round 3 heat and reach the last 16 women who will contest Main Event Round 4. The surfer from Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape, who reached the final of the Women’s event in France in 2017 and in Japan last year, is determined to add a third consecutive medal to the copper and bronze versions she already has.
Australia based former Durbanite Sarah Baum simply could not find a high scoring second counting ride to add to the 6.17 (out of 10) she posted early in her Round 2 heat. Baum slipped to third place and into the cutthroat Repercharge Rounds where any heat result other than first or second will see her eliminated from the event.
However, the winner of the Ballito Women’s Pro in KZN in July bounced back with a 7.17 and a 4.33 to easily clinch the runner-up berth in her Repercharge Round 2 encounter and faces opponents from Spain, Switzerland and Thailand when Round 3 is run on Monday.
With Olympic qualification at stake, the ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans has attracted the crème-de-la-crème of the world’s surf stars and the standard of surfing among the record setting 103 women competitors has been exceptional.
2016 ISA World Junior Champion Caroline Marks from USA continued her hot streak in the event, earning the highest heat total for the second consecutive day with 17.23 points (out of 20). Marks’ teammate, three-time World Champion and current World No. 1 Carissa Moore was also a standout, excelling in the clean, morning conditions with the second highest heat total of 17.06.
But Moore was unable to back up her strong performance during her next Round 2 heat, falling to the Repercharge Rounds due to a strong showing from Brazil’s Tatiana-Weston Webb. Webb’s impressive surfing continued in Round 3 where she earned the highest single wave score of the event thus far with 9.77 points and advanced into Main Event Round 4.
The Australian pair also suffered mixed fortunes with seven-time World Champ Stephanie Gilmore winning all three of her heats and moving into the Main Event last 16, while defending event champion Sally Fitzgibbons stumbled in Round 3 and will have to take the gruelling, do-or-die longer route through the Repercharge rounds to defend her title.
The swell is forecast to provide 2 metre plus waves, up to double-overhead on the sets, on Monday with light and variable winds trending onshore during the afternoon.