South Africa’s top junior female surf stars lit up the waves at the Point in Jeffreys Bay on Day 2 of the Hurley SA Junior Champs, revelling in the clean 0.5 to one metre swell pulsing along the rocky shore fanned by a stiff offshore wind.
Occasional morning rain squalls did nothing to dampen the spirits of the nine competing provincial squads at they gathered at the water’s edge to encourage their peers to greater heights with the smaller teams such as Zululand and the SA Development Academy matching the enthusiasm of their larger counterparts from KwaZulu-Natal Central, the always passionate Border crew and Southern KZN.
Gina Smith set the standard by hooking into a couple of clean lines that reeled down the point in the first heat of the day, enabling the J-Bay local to perform a series of manoeuvres that impressed the judges and gave her the heat victory and passage straight into Round 3.
KZN Central’s Caryn McNicol, Border’s Inge McLaren and Western Province’s Nina Woerman and Sam Sutton were equally impressive and served notice that they will be challenging for the SA U17 girl’s title come the finals on Sunday.
Chanelle Botha, winner of a trip to Bali for the highest heat score in last year’s Hurley SA Junior Champs, carried on where she left off in 2011 by opening her account in the U15 division with an excellent ride that earned 8.25 points out of 10. Although the Southern KZN top seed had to wait until the dying minutes before finding her second ride, she added a 5.75 which was enough for a comfortable heat victory
“It was a bit slow out there, and the wind was really strong, but I got what I needed so I’m pretty stoked about that,” Botha said after her heat. “I managed a few top turns and a long cutback into the pocket, and then a re-entry on the inside, and that was all I needed to get the score,” she said of her outstanding opening ride.
Ruth Armstrong (WP), Anousch Zakarian (Boland) and KZN Central’s Olivia Brand and Teal Hogg were the other heat winners in what is shaping up as very competitive division.
Reigning SA U13 girls champion Kai Woolf (EP) showed that she is the one to beat in her home surf by posting a comprehensive win in her Round 1 match-up. The diminutive blonde caught the best waves and punctuated her rides with solid turns to progress directly to Round 3 in the youngest division.
As the skies cleared and the wind dropped, the Round 2 heats in the three boy’s age categories saw the first eliminations from the event. But that threat did not hinder defending U17 boys champ Josh Smit (KZNC) who bounced back from his shock defeat yesterday.
Showing the form that took him to the title in his home surf last year, Smit carved searing cutbacks and smashed through the lip of several waves to comfortably win his heat and join yesterday’s top performers in Round 3.
Fellow SA junior team member Diran Zakarian, Boland teammate Gareth Williams, WP’s Dylan Wichmann, Paul Van Rijswyk (Dev Academy) and Byron Wigmore (SKZN) also redeemed themselves with heat wins today.
Friday’s schedule sees Round 2 of all the girl’s divisions followed by Round 2 of boy’s U17 and U15 before ending with Round 3 of the U17 girls.
The Hurley SA Junior Champs runs until Sunday when the 2012 SA champions in U17, U15 and U13 categories for boys and girls will be decided along with the Freedom Cup, which goes to the team accumulating the highest combined points total across all divisions.
There are also special awards for the Hurley Surfer of the Contest in association with All Aboard Travel, the Red Bull Airshow, Citroën Highest Heat Score, Zigzag Blowing Up and Skullcandy Team Spirit.
Daily blogs, interviews, video uploads, images, event schedule and results from the Hurley SA Junior Champs are posted on www.sajuniorchamps.co.za with results and info also found at www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za at the end of each day’s action.
Follow the event via the Hurley Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/Hurley.ZA, on Twitter @HurleyZA and on Instagram HURLEY_ZA, both using the hashtag #sajuniorchamps.
The South African Development Academy Team is supported by a grant from Sport and Recreation South Africa.
Surfing South Africa (SSA) is recognised as the national governing body for surfriding by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and Sport and Recreation SA. SSA is a member of the International Surfing Association (ISA), the world’s governing body for surfing.
The 2012 Hurley SA Junior Champs is supported by Citroën Port Elizabeth, Skullcandy, Red Bull, Zigzag and All Aboard Travel.