25 May, 2012 25 May, 2012

The Poor Man’s Trestles – Long beach delivers fun waves for SA Champs Day 3






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Long Beach, in the words of Chad du Toit, is a poor man’s Trestles.  Still, that’s not a poor comparison.  And for most of the day, it’s a fitting one.  Captain Kai reckons the weather is bi-polar, but by evening it’s made up its mind and there’s barely a cloud to be seen.

Until today, a good heat to watch was when three waves had a few linked turns.  This morning, and again in the late afternoon, competitors are surfing to the full potential of themselves, and not to the very limited potential of the waves.  It’s means that most waves in a heat are entertaining to watch. There’s power and style.

Western Province is yet to lose the trophy at home. But, even if Border doesn’t manage to upset them, they definitely get the team gees prize.  Every wave ridden by one of their compatriots is cheered from their gazebo.  It pays dividends and in Heat 8 of Round 3, both Tyrell Johnson and Kyle Galloway dispatch Boland’s Gareth Moys and Avro Johnson in a closely fought heat.

The following heat 9 sees the defending champion Greg Emslie (Border) through as he once again asserts his form.  Heat 5 was also a round highlight with Beyrick De Vries (KZN central) once again making his presence felt in a tight battle.  Jaco Steyn (Boland) follows him through as local hopes Jordan Alexander and Ian Armstrong fall by the wayside.

The onshore kicked in late morning and brought through some spots of rain.  Even with a gentle breeze, the waves have lost their sheen, shape, and power.  Competitors become more selective and moves appear forced or laboured.

By the time Matt Bromley paddles out in heat 11, the wind is dropping again.  His long frame flows with local affinity.  He has a very good chance of going the distance if the final day sees us at the same venue tomorrow.  Or even if it doesn’t.  Casey Grant (SKZN) closes off the round in excellent form as the sun returns to the sky.

Mike February shares Bromdog’s familiarity and is able to set his fins free on almost every wave and mixing it up with a full repertoire.

The junior division is a fine showcase of the new school style and it will be great to see what the youngsters are capable of in a few years’ time.  If this year’s title remains in the gnarled hands of the elder generation, they ought to be looking nervously over their shoulders in the future. Amongst the ladies, the same names come up again – Nikita Robb (Border) in the Open, and Tanika Hoffman (WP) for the under 20’s.

By mid-afternoon the sheen has returned and I find myself quite envious of only four guys out to split the peak between them.  Sets are head-high at the back and big turns are being threaded all the way through. Floaters on the close out make for a good show as the shoredump doubles up and sucks out to throw the half-point seeker into a shallow puddle of kelp soup.

Klee Strachan (SKZN) comes down with an ankle injury in the opening heat of round 4.  You can see his frustration as he leaves the water early.  He still finishes second and so progresses. He’s been showing real promise, so let’s hope he’s fit to surf tomorrow.

On the opening for Round 4 of heat 2, Thorne and Emslie split the peak and ride it all the way through.  It’s a fine opening and the growing crowd cheers the duellers.  The decision is made to run as many of the heats from this round as they can this evening.  It’s a good call as Long Beach delivers and so do the final 24 surfers in this category.  However, by heat 4 they decide to call it as the sun dips over the Atlantic.  The closing heat of the day sees two or more surfers up and riding simultaneously.  Difficult for judges. Great for spectators.

Despite the waves picking up for the last few heats, the swell is set to drop overnight.  There are murmurs of moving the contest to Misty Cliffs for the last day.  If Long Beach is similar tomorrow, then there’s no need.  But, the swing factor is low-tide, which is not friendly to this wave and set for 2pm tomorrow.  If you’re in Cape Town, it will be well worth the effort of getting to whatever location is chosen.  If this evening’s surfing is anything to go by, the Sunday finish is going to be a cracker.

Catch the action – and there was plenty today – at http://billabongsachamps.co.za/, http://vimeo.com/billabong or Supersport Blitz.  Follow live updates at https://www.facebook.com/Billabong.South.Africa or on Twitter @BillabongSA and #billabongsachamps

Action starts at 8am tomorrow.

The official Press Release from the Billabong SA Champs Day 3 can be read below:

Llewellyn Whittaker took out the final heat of the day.


Long Beach, Cape Town, 26 May 2012 – The third day of the Billabong SA Champs saw a return to Long Beach, but with vastly improved conditions compared to the previous two days surfing. “There are some clean sets today,” said contest director Cyril Nel this morning, as the contest started. “There are three-foot set waves, and the surfers are getting some great rides.”

It was a full day of surfing, with the Round 3 Open Women and Round 3 U20 Girls followed by the Round 3 of the Open Men and the Round 3 of the U20 Boys, before finishing with the Round 4 Open Men’s Division.

“There definitely are some fun waves out there, a couple of bowls,” reckoned Durban surfer Dan Redman, after winning his round three heat. “I lucked into a couple of three-footers and managed to get some decent scores. I think my wave scores were a seven and an eight, so I was happy with my performance.”

Dan has been enjoying the SA Champs in Cape Town so far, despite a few days of testing conditions. “SA Champs is always a great event,” said Dan. “You get to see all your old friends and there are the normal good vibes that surround such an event. Having said that, seeing as it’s winner-takes-all format to the prize money this year I’m not here to get second place.”

Local boy Matt Bromley was also performing well at his home break, proving that local knowledge is a definite advantage. “Long Beach is a tricky wave at the best of times, and I definitely feel that I have an advantage here,” reckoned Matt after his round three victory. “The line-up changes so much here through the tide, and you have to know where to sit depending on the tide. I’m feeling pretty confident here at my home break and to be honest, I hope that they have the contest here tomorrow.” Matt went on to advance through his round four heat, the last heat of the day.

The forecast for tomorrow, the final day of the event, is for small and clean conditions again. It looks like it is going to be an amazing Cape day with bright sunshine and light winds predicted.

Along with the allocated prize money and all the speciality awards, there is also a Performance Award and R2000 prize money from Buchulife for the best performance from a female surfer during the event.

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