The Saffa surf community are disappointed, some possibly a little pissed. All year long we wait to watch our local favourites destroying the international field of professional surfing tourists in our backyard. And sometimes they do, sometimes they get close, but this year they came far from close. As far from close as they may have ever been.
Our South African WQS representatives had a collective shocker of a performance at this year’s Mr Price Pro. If it were a team sport the ZAF team would have come stone last. All out by Round 2 is a horrible news headline to wake up to.
Dale Staples preps for his Round 1 heat, knee strapped.
It’s easy to sit on the spectators bench and feel bitter about their performance, but maybe a closer look into each individual’s performance might give a little ray of hope to those calling it an ugly-looking State of the Nation. A small dig into the situation and maybe it’s not as bad as it looks. I’m not here to make excuses for our boys, but that’s possibly exactly how you might interpret what you’re about to read.
THE TRIAL WILDCARDS:
Excuse – Very lightie and surfing the biggest event of his life.
Shane Sykes was punching above his weight and loving it.
Shaney scored his biggest ever result on Saturday, when he finished runner-up in the Mr Price Pro Trials to earn himself a wildcard. He was the youngest in the event and raised his froth level to a high as he came close to taking out seasoned campaigners. Shane never made it through his heat, but the experience on a whole was a win/win and he is lining himself up as our next big thing.
Excuse – He does the 8-to-fiver.
Jacko is no stranger to big events and big results. With his thunder thighs and the conditions on offer, he was looking like a good bet. And he nearly was, but a 8-to-fiver man vs a full-time campaigner is no easy task.
OUR FOUR ROOKIE WILDCARDS:
Excuse – The beginner learning curve.
Dylan Lightfoot, Slade Prestwich, Mikey February and Davey Van Zyl all entered this event via the generosity of the ASP and event wildcards. Going into Prime events with a year’s experience on tour and coming up against guys with five years, ten years and well over that is far easier dreamt than done. Not that any of them are lacking the talent, as they showed us, but at this level talent counts for only half.
David Van Zyl has been moving up the WQS rankings, and now sits within the Top 100.
Davey was the exception of the bunch as he made the second round to score solid Prime points, which should see him bump up a few places on the QS rankings.
As for the other three, you can’t criticise their performance. Dylan lost as he searched for a miserably small 3.88 score in horrible conditions. Slade, while under pressure half way through his heat, nailed the scores he needed. That was until the judges nudged him out of second with a slight over score in the favour of Jonathan Gonzales from the Canary Islands (you would think the scores would go in favour of the local). And Mikey, quickly becoming an international favourite, seemed to be going through a small board rut, swapping and changing boards in free-surfs before the event.
M-Feb was hard at work testing boards at Bogs.
None of them got the results they were dreaming of beforehand, but they received Prime points in exchange and perhaps now know in their minds that they belong in the Prime events.
THE EXPERIENCED FOUR:
Excuse – Knee injury
No one is going to be making heats at this level surfing 25% below full strength. But he got some points and he got some prize money.
Beyrick De Vries
Excuse – Tactical error
There was nothing wrong with Beyrick’s surfing. A tactical error cost him his heat.
Beyrick was looking fast, sharp and landing throw tails at will, but a slight misjudgment of a priority disc change sent him headfirst into an interference call and a one-way ticket to the sideline. It’s just one of those things and he can only but learn from it, and we can only hope the others do too. Huntington Beach is next for Beyrick and his small wave surfing is looking next level. He is also not half bad at places slightly bigger, like Sunset (said with a tone of sarcasm).
Excuse – The hard luck/tough conditions excuse
Trav took out his first heat looking like it was just another stock standard warm-up heat on route to a blitzing 12 heat victory path. But the following day the conditions went far south, turning the comp into a luck-of-the-draw wave catching event. Trav scored one banker ride early, but failed to repeat that feat for the rest of the heat. Ask anyone on the beach and they will tell you it was a lucky packet out there. Yadin Nicol said it best in his post heat interview. “You could easily fall into rhythm and easily fall out of rhythm,” he claimed. Trav will be taking that backhand whip with him to J-Bay next week to dismantle a few long walls. That backhand gets deadlier by the season.
Excuse – “I had one shocker, give me break.”
Jordy wasn’t at his best, but even at 50% he is incredible. Just not incredible enough.
Jordy is our shining star, who we can always count on to keep that flag of ours flying on the final day of the event. This year was different though, as he delivered his worst result in 10 years, if not more. He started slow in his first heat, and was struggling to finish his rides, but mid-way through he started finding his rhythm and throwing his tail around like it was just another video part.
In his second heat, Jords did not look like himself the whole way through. Until the final minute that is, when he threw down the kind of air that the best dream of landing in their free-surfs. It’s possibly his first ever hiccup at this event, so even though he makes the other competitors look like children, we can’t expect huge results from him every year. It just can’t always happen. But who cares, J-Bay is next. Keep that flag out and on stand-by.
ON A WHOLE:
We had ten South Africans in the event. Four of them experienced. Four of them rookies. One grom. One retired full-time corporate.
Our four experienced surfers all had a simultaneous flop at the same event. Nothing unheard of in any sporting event. This time next year our four rookies will only be stronger. Our grom will still be a grom, but surfing unlike a grom. And if our corporate keeps his thunder thighs in shape, he will still be gouging his way into next year’s Prime and doing it for the working class.
Felipe has been going crazy…
As for today’s performances – Torrey Meister has bumped himself up there as a beach favourite along with Felipe Toledo, who is still surfing like a character in a Playstation game.
Compliments of Captain Kai, here are some video highlights from Day 3 of the Mr Price Pro (sans Saffas)
Check out www.mrpricepro.com for all the results, video highlights and more.