The final event the 2015 Billabong Junior Series was contested in great waves at Seal Point over the past weekend. Under 20 Girls competitor, Gina Smith filled us in on what was an exciting finale to the Series. Click here for a highlights gallery from the event, or watch the video here.
SEAL POINT SHOWDOWN – by Gina Smith
Shrouded in mist, the reeling lines at Seal Point were unmistakable on Day 1.
Day one of the final event of the 2015 Billabong Junior Series presented by Bos saw competitors, parents, coaches and officials sprawled along the grassy bank of Seal Point at the crack of dawn, as the foghorn droned in the background like a persistent alarm clock.
A thick layer of mist hung over the ocean, but the silhouette of perfect lines could not be mistaken. With a 6:30am call the day commenced at 7:00am sharp, with Round 1 of the Pro Junior Boys starting things off. The point consistently produced beautiful, long right-handers, which allowed the surfers to reveal their full repertoire. A beach full of spectators had their eyes glued to the ocean all day, dealing with the bittersweet reality of having to settle for mind-surfing such clean waves, while the country’s best juniors put on a spectacular show. It was an equal playing field for all surfers with the natural footers presenting more powerful, swooping carves, whilst the backhanders could perform tighter, vertical hacks in the pocket.
Luke Malherbe making things very difficult for the mind-surfing spectators.
With less than prime conditions predicted for Sunday, an official call was made to have a second podium at the beach break for Round 1 of the the Under 16 Girls, Under 14 Girls and Under 12 boys. This proved to work out perfectly. “The waves were great at the beachie for the little guys, it was just the right size with fun lefts and rights. James Ribbink really stood out for me after he dropped a 9 point ride. He is just such a stylish surfer,” judge Mandla Ndlovu said. It was a killer day, ending just before dark after completing a massive 40 heats. The standard was set very high for the remainder of the contest.
Day 2 presented a slight decrease in swell, but there were ample waves still peeling down the point, allowing for excellent scores all day. It was a crucial, cut throat day with all of the quarter finals being run as well as all the semi finals – except for the Pro Junior division. The beach break was once again highly contestable and hosted the younger divisions once the tide had filled in.
James Ribbink, impressing the judges with style to burn.
The Pro Juniors reached the man-on-man stage of the game, adding a whole new dynamic to the premier division as a new set of tactics came into play. Surfers who seemed unstoppable in the earlier rounds were forced to bow out as the priority system worked in favour of the other contestants in slower conditions. Shane Sykes and Matthew McGillivray were among the major upsets. The semi finals saw Bevan Willis and Adin Masencamp battle it out, with an on-form Dylan Lightfoot matched up against the last standing goofy foot surfer in the Pro Junior division, Jordy Maree.
The women’s Pro Junior division held an impressive standard of surfing. Gina Smith posted the highest heat total out of the girls with a 9.25 and an 8.5 ride in the earlier rounds, but was out-foxed by the priority system in her next heat, which resulted in an interference call. Jade Story was a noteworthy, smooth surfer on her backhand but missed out on making the semi finals along with Seal Point local, Crystal Hulett. The young Sophie Bell did massive damage with her smooth style and powerful carves and ended the day progressing to the semi finals along with Olivia Brand, Chanelle Botha and the unstoppable, consistent Nicole Pallet.
Sophie Bell carved her way to the finals in the Pro Junior Girls division.
Hailing from Cape St Francis is legendary surf coach, Graham Hynes, who has seen many surfers come and go over the years. He could be found at the point from dawn to dusk, coaching and simply observing.
“Luke Slijpen looked exceptional on those great shaped waves,” said Hynsie. “Sebastian Williams is also surfing very, very well. He is a consistent, confident and talented young surfer. Seal Point lends itself to very explosive surfing. It allows for the full judging criteria to be met and a lot of the juniors really surfed to the criteria at a high standard. The surfers who were surfing with a lot of speed, putting their boards on the rails and mixing it up were the ones progressing through heats.”
With the forecast not looking great for day three, the officials decision to introduce a second podium on day one and two to help finish the finals as early as possible on Sunday, proved to be wise. Finals day would favour the more experienced surfers in a tricky lineup caused by light onshore winds. Regardless, some highly contestable waves hugged the bricks, allowing the surfers to prove their commitment and ability to read the waves. After the exciting semi final match up’s it was Nicole Pallet and Sophie Bell who advanced to the Pro Junior Girl’s Under 20 Finals, while Dylan Lightfoot and Adin Masencamp progressed to the Pro Junior Boys Finals, making both Pro Junior finals a battle of the ages.
Adin Masencamp swooped into the final of the Pro Junior Boys division.
The finals kicked off with the Under 12 Boys straight after an innovative Von Zipper Air Show. James Ribbink proved why he was standout in the division, winning the finals with excellent scores to leave Mitch Du Preez in second place, Daniel Emslie in third place and Christian Venter in fourth.
In the Under 14 Girls, Julia Ploughman was looking good for the win until goofy foot ripper Gabi Lailvaux moved into the lead after posting a 7-point ride in the last few minutes. Tayla De Coning and Kelly Medley placed third and fourth respectively.
Dylan Lightfoot was on top form throughout the event and claimed the win in the Pro Junior Boys division, clinching the Series title too.
After being land-locked for several months on account of a broken arm, Max Elkington proved that he was fully recovered and dangerous after smashing his Under 14 Boys Final, taking the win as well as the Dakine Highest Heat Total award, scoring a R5000 Dakine Hamper for his heat total of 18,25 points. Luke Slijpen was turning heads throughout the event, but settled for second place behind Max. Eli Beukes has become a consistent presence in the finals and snagged a third place over first time finalist in the Under 14 Boys division, York Van Jaarsveldt.
The Under 16 Girls Final was dominated by Sophie Bell, who continued to impress after posting a 9.8 ride, leaving the ever improving Kirsty McGillivray in second place over the two impressive goofy footers, Danica Stockigt and Taghiti Gericke.
J-Bay local Kirsty McGillivray earned a well-deserved second place in the Under 16 Girls.
The Under 16 Boys Final was simply beautiful to watch with all four surfers having excessive amounts of flow despite the onshore conditions. Koby Oberholzer presented flashes of brilliance but was kept in second place by Sebastian Williams, who effortlessly glided through the bumps to present two excellent scoring rides. The goofy footer, Jose Faulkner, fought hard all event and ended up with a third place over Luke Slijpen, who struggled to find the running waves in his second finals appearance.
In the beginning of the Pro Junior Womens division final, Sophie Bell lead the chase before Nicole Pallet grabbed two good scoring rides, surfing with style and innovation, to pick up yet another big win and solidify her place as winner of the Series in the Pro Junior Girls division.
It was powerful turns like this that led Nicole Pallet to victory in the Pro Junior Girls.
An offshore breeze swung through just in time for the Pro Junior Boys Final, cleaning up the face of the wave but causing the conditions to become a little inconsistent. Dylan Lightfoot and Adin Masencamp proved to be an exciting match-up with both surfers having a very similar approach to surfing with incredible amounts of speed, power and flow – their styles comparable to young versions of Mick Fanning. During a break in the action, a pod of dolphins came cruising down into the gully at the beach break, putting on an equally impressive show for the spectators.
Adin Masencamp kept busy, scoring some decent rides early on in the heat, leaving Dylan Lightfoot requiring a 6.1 in the last few minutes. With 10 seconds to go, Dylan had the crowd on their feet as he took off on a wave, performing three clean turns and an air reverse, earning himself the score he needed by just 0.05.
“I was aware of my situation and that I needed a 6.1 after Adin got a good score with his priority. Then a wave popped up in the last ten seconds, I kind of thought it was an average one but I knew I could make a score out of it. I think the air reverse solidified it. The conditions changed completely and I adjusted my strategy a little late considering I needed the score in the last ten seconds so I was just so stoked when I landed that air…” said an elated Dylan Lightfoot at the prize giving later that afternoon. His win also solidified his lead in the rankings.
Dylan stuck this air reverse to narrowly beat Adin Masencamp in the Pro Junior Boys Final.
The winner of each division won a Nixon Rhythm Tide Watch valued at R1500 while the Pro Junior division winners won a Nixon Supertide watch. It was no surprise that Luke Slijpen was the BOS Surfer of the Contest, winning himself R1000 and a BOS hamper. The powerful Bevan Willis won the Kinetic Racing Fins Best Carve Award, taking home a KR fins hamper valued at R3000. Aya Gericke won the VonZipper Air Show for a very technical straight slob air, earning himself R2000 and a VZ product hamper.
The Zigzag Stepping Up award of R2000 was awarded to Adin Masencamp. Sebastian Williams won the BOS Surfer Of The Series award for being the most consistent surfer. Sebastian was awarded a R20 000 prize consisting of R10 000 in cash, a custom made BOS surfboard, as well as BOS merchandise and a year’s supply of BOS iced tea.
Luke Slijpen was the BOS surfer of the contest, winning himself R1000 and a BOS hamper.
Sebastian Williams’ progressive surfing earned him the Bos Surfer of the Series award. He also managed to take down the win for the Under 16 Boys division.
Billabong Junior Series Presented by BOS 2015 series results:
UNDER 12 BOYS
1. James Ribbink
2. Nathan Spalding
3. Mitch Du Preez
UNDER 14 GIRLS
1. Gabi Lailvaux
2. Julia Ploughman
3. Kelly Medley
UNDER 14 BOYS
1. Max Elkington
2. Luke Slijpen
3. Eli Beukes
UNDER 16 GIRLS
1. Kirsty McGilivray
2. Danica Stockigt
3. Anna Jellema-Butler
UNDER 16 BOYS
1. Sebastian Williams
2. Ethan Fletcher
3. Ford Van Jaarsveldt
UNDER 20 PRO JUNIOR MEN
1. Dylan Lightfoot
2. Jordy Maree
3. Adin Masencamp
UNDER 20 PRO JUNIOR WOMEN
1. Nicole Pallet
2. Gina Smith
3. Olivia Brand
WSL Africa Regional squad team for the World Junior Championships in 2016-
Dylan Lightfoot, Shane Sykes, Adin Masencamp, Jordy Maree, Matt McGillivray, Bevan Willis.
Nicole Pallet, Gina Smith