Yesterday, all groms in the final event of the City Surf Series; the VW SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley, rained down on J-Bay in their masses. QS warriors from all corners of the globe and South Africa detoured off the N2 before Nelson Mandela Bay, to partake in the promised land fruits offered up by Supertubes. And were they rewarded!? The swell of the year! Consistent 6-8ft surf wrapping into the bay garnishing all of Jbay’s many points with glorious perfection. Each wave completely predictable.
You take off and plan two to three turns ahead, managing the power of the wave and your subsequent speed. Today, however, supplied the QS warriors with a different set of challenges. Pipeline entirely unpredictable. One wave does one thing, the very next wave in the same set, something completely different. So competitors were forced to think on their feet (excuse the pun), to make split-second decisions, they had to create power and energy, in contrast to managing that power at Supertubes.
Here’s who transitioned best from yesterday’s 6-8ft point break perfection to today’s 2ft beach break unpredictability:
Cover image: Thurtell
Two Japanese Girls. One Hawaiian.
Surfing Pipeline is like parenting a tween who just entered teenagehood. Their emotions twist, turn and change continuously. One question garners one response, the same question the very next day, an entirely new one. Such is the Pipeline. Truly only the lord almighty knows how a swell might respond to the bottom contours of the Pipeline sand/reef.
The two Japanese surfers, Shino Matsuda and Minami Nonaka, were like seasoned teen breeding parents in the Pipeline lineup. Handling the bipolar responses to incoming swells with ease. Shino surfing with her right forward and Minami with her left, although opposite stances, approached waves wth remarkable similarity. Both girls garnered scores by sticking to the pocket, never wandering too far from the bowl. Their slight frames a perfect match to the dribbley waves offered by Pipeline. As fate would have it, the two standouts, Shino and Minami, met in the semi-finals. Shino Matsuda won and went on to face Zoe McDougal from Hawaii in the final. In contrast to Shino’s approach of well placed tight pocket jams, Zoe used her strength of power hacks on the open face to edge ahead of her Japanese rival. The wind swung south-west flattening the wave face, eliminating Shino’s most powerful ally; the bowl. This opened up the door for Zoe, and she pounced, going to work on the flat faces, impressing the judges with her powerful gouges. She threw a considerable amount more spray than her competitors and emerged the victor for the second time in a row at the SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley.
The City Surf Series has done wonders for South African surfing. It’s given South African’s a platform to sharpen their skills on home soil. To hone their talents without having to stamp their passports’. And by the time international talent arrives on South African shores to steal their QS points, the South Africans are well versed in the art of heat strategy. They have their boards dialed in, their coaches providing them with sound advice before heats, and are unperturbed by big names carrying dissimilar passports.
2 years ago we wondered if Luke would’ve won the final against Brazilian Eduardo Motta, not from a lack of talent, but rather a lack of heat surfing experience. But that’s the beauty of competition. Only surfing competitions can prepare you for taking down big names in competition. And that’s essentially what the City Surf Series has bestowed upon our junior surfers. Instead of being rattled by big names and who’s who, they approach each heat with the understanding that if they surf to their ability, surf smart heats, not letting the situation get ahead of themselves, they can and will emerge victoriously. Luke’s victory today, is a testament to what the City surf Series has done for South African junior surfing. Amongst a field of top internationals competing in a shifty beach break, a South African emerged victoriously. Well done Luke, and long live the City Surf Series!
Enjoy a tasty gallery and video of the day’s action below. Images by Ian Thurtell: