Japanese Girls Continue to Impress as Men’s and Women’s
Seasoned South African pro surfer Beyrick de Vries put on a clinic in the pumping, overhead waves for the opening day of the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Surf Classic today, racking up an excellent heat total of 17.50 out of 20 at Stop No. 3 of seven on the 2019 WSL Africa Tour.
The uMhlanga based 26-year-old has been one of the country’s highest placed surfers on the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) rankings since he was a teenager. De Vries kick-started his charge for the Men’s title in Round 2 with a great 8.0 point ride before adding a near perfect 9.0, and then finding another great wave that he also decimated for an 8.50.
“There were some really fun waves and even though the wind was onshore, it was very light so there were smooth faces,” said De Vries. “That nine-point ride was my second wave, and I already had an eight so the pressure was off. I found a bigger wave and did a speed float that I landed smoothly and then went straight into a 180 air where I managed to maintain my speed, and ended with critical final manoeuvre where I got the nose up and then jabbed it for the finish.”
De Vries left his three opponents in a combination situation and needing to improve on both their counting scores to overtake him as he advanced to the quarter-finals. He was joined by heat runner-up Bryce du Preez (East London).whose heat tally of 12.75 out of 20 would have been enough to win any of the other seven heats in Round 2.
The action started in rainy and choppy conditions that improved throughout the day, and organisers completed Rounds 1 and 2 of the Men’s QS1,000 rated event and Round 1 of Women’s QS1,000 in an effort to get through as many heats as possible ahead of expected inclement conditions on Tuesday..
Former South African junior team member Sebastian Williams, now representing his birth-country of Mexico, was also impressive in posting an excellent 8.0 of his own to comfortably win his Round1 heat. He then outpointing current QS No. 87, Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) as the pair progressed to the quarter-finals while eliminating third and fourth placed Renan Hanada (BRA) and Liam de Villiers.
Others who won their heats and reached the last 16 include Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay), winner of the Men’s Title at the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro last Saturday; QS warrior Slade Prestwich and fellow Durbanites Chad du Toit, (Durban) and Chris Frolich; reigning WSL Africa Men’s Junior champion Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay) and Shane Sykes (Salt Rock).
The Women’s QS1,000 rated event was again dominated by the contingent of Japanese girls who filled all four places in the final in PE this past weekend. Minami Nonaka, who won both the Women’s and Junior Women’s events, was once more the standout, surfing fast and fluidly to earn an 8.0 and a heat total of 12.45, the highest of the Round.
Nonaka’s compatriots Nao Omura, Julie Nishimoto, Shino Matsuda and Ren Hashimoto all won their heats and moved into the quarters along with South African heat winners, rising stars Zoe Steyn (East London) and S’Nenhlanhla Makhubu (Durban) and the Queen of local surfing and former Women’s World Masters Champion, Heather Clark (Port Shepstone).
The Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Surf Classic is also the second of four stops on the City Surf Series (CSS). Alongside the world-class surfing action, the CSS events embrace sustainability and transformation programs such as the Surfing South Africa Learn To Surf outreach project in collaboration with Caltex, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Ocean Pledge.
Ocean Pledge will assist in creating ‘Blue Events,’ while the NSRI will be educating members of the public, competitors, local schools and surf outreach programs about ocean safety and ocean awareness.
Organisers are anticipating a strong onshore (Easterly) wind and large waves on Tuesday and will meet at 7 am at Eastern Beach in Port Alfred to decide on when to get the contest underway, and what events to run. The schedule includes quarter-finals for Men and Women, and for Junior Men and Women aged 18-and-under
More information, results and images will be available from www.worldsurfleague.com and on the free WSL App. The final day’s action will be webcast live on Wednesday via the WSL QS Facebook page, the website and the App