WSL African champion pulls off near perfect score in Port Alfred

A howling offshore wind made smallish waves stand to attention and become very contestable on day one of the Royal St. Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic, presented by Quicksilver.

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All photos by Ian Thurtell

Being a World Surfing League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 event, sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), South Africa’s top surfers are frothing at the prospect of earning valuable international ranking points at home.

Nicole Pallet

WSL Africa women’s champion, Nicole Pallet made her intentions known when she pulled off the highest wave score of the day with an incredible 9.25 in what she describes as tricky conditions with the wind blowing her off her board a bit.

“I just did what my coach Quinton Jones (“QJ”) said I should do which was waiting for the bomb that has the wall and I was lucky to have priority when that wave came. The wind was a little tricky, blowing me off my board a bit so I played it safe, trying not to fall off,” said Palett.

Argentinian, Josefina Ane also looked dangerous on Friday and will be squaring off against defending Buffalo City Pro champion, Sophie Bell in Saturday’s women’s quarter-final heat two. Ane and Palett were responsible for sending home last weekend’s Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Pro Surf presented by Billabong champion, Kai Wolf who elected to sit a little more forward and opted for the smaller waves, which unfortunately did not impress the judges.

J-Bay’s Emma Smith scored the highest heat of the day (13.75) and will be facing Kayla Nogueira in the quarter-final.

Emma Smith

J-Bay’s Emma Smith scored the highest heat of the day (13.75) and will be facing Kayla Nogueira in the quarter-final.

In the men’s division, Dillon Hendricks carried forward the good form he showed last weekend in Nelson Mandela Bay, while Dale Staples, Ethan Fletcher and Luke Malherbe all looked good and made it through to the fourth round.

Ryan Lightfoot

The men’s longboarding event saw Ryan Lightfoot win his heat over former WSL number two, Steven Sawyer, who has just come off a five-week injury lay-off and was a little rusty. Sawyer however finished second in that heat, which saw him go through to the quarter-final where he will be paddling out against fellow South African, Sam Christianson. Veteran, Matthew Moir also showed good form, winning his heat to line up in the quarters against Alfonzo Pieters.

The women’s longboarding contest saw an upset when Marishka Myers knocked out South African champion, Christy Gilmour with a 10.75 over 8.85 heat score. Myers will be surfing against Mia Baard and while Crystal Hulett will be paddling out against Tarryn Kyte in the semifinal.

Elder statesmen, Greg Emslie and Wayne Mark also deserve a special mention for their performance on the day and longevity in the sport. Emslie, who was South Africa’s longest running Championship Tour surfer won his heat today with a very respectable score of 14.50, demanding respect from the younger generation.

2018 City Surf Series Event Schedule:

  • Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Pro Surf presented by Billabong (31 Mar – 2 April)
  • Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic presented by Quiksilver (inaugural event, 6-8 April)
  • Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro presented by Reef Wetsuits (13-15 April)
  • ZigZag Durban Surf Pro presented by G-Force (18-20 May)
  • Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro presented by O’Neill (14-17 June)
  • Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley (19-24 June)

About WSL

The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running in excess of 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men’s, Women’s across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

About Surfing South Africa

Surfing South Africa is recognised governing body for Surfing  in South Africa by the Department of Sport and Recreation. SSA is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

Jacqueline Herbst