South Africans Eli Beukes and Zoe Steyn each in contention for two titles going into final day
The semi-finalists in the Men’s and Women’s events and the finalists in the Junior Men’s and Women’s events at the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Surf Classic were decided in the wild conditions in Port Alfred today.
In smaller waves than expected, but with strong onshore winds and teeming rain turning the lineup at East Beach into a churning maelstrom of white water, the country’s top surfers and a sizeable contingent of international competitors battled the elements in search of glory, prize-money and coveted rankings points at the business end of Stop No. 2 on the South African leg of the 2019 WSL Africa Tour
The Men’s quarter-finals were the first to take to the surf and Kommetjie based teenager Eli Beukes, winner of the Junior Men’s title in Port Elizabeth last Saturday, confidently led from the outset of the first encounter. Steadily building a heat winning total of 13.60, with scores of 7.0 and 6.60 (each out 10), Beukes relegated Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), the standout performer on Day 1, to the runner-up spot and needing an excellent 8.25 for the lead when time ran out.
Both competitors advanced to the semi-finals while third and fourth placed Shane Sykes (Salt Rock) and Saxton Randall (Durban) were eliminated from the event, earning ninth and 13th places respectively.
Beukes went on to reach the final of the Junior Men’s event later in the day when he finished second behind Thomas Lindhorst (East London) in the first of the Men’s JQS semi-finals.
Slade Prestwich (Durban) produced arguably the day’s best performance in the second quarter-final, unleashing his powerful rail turns and taking to the air for a 6.20 and an outstanding 8.25. That saw the perennial international traveller progress to a matchup with Beukes, de Vries and the runner-up in the second quarter-final, 2018 WSL Africa Junior Men’s champion Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay), in the first semi-final tomorrow morning.
The bottom half of the draw saw Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) joined by seasoned charger Chad du Toit (Durban) in advancing from their clash, with du Toit finishing ahead of Daniel Farr (AUS) and Chris Frolich despite incurring an interference penalty that resulted in one of his scoring rides being halved. They will be up against Darcy Crump (AUS) and the winner of the Men’s event in PE, Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay), in the second semi.
The Junior Men completed three rounds today and after the spray had settled, Beukes will face off against Lindhorst, Slijpen and Luke Thompson (Durban) as he attempts to capture back-to-back titles and extend his WSL Africa rankings lead in the Men’s 18-and-under category.
Zoe Steyn (East London) put on a spectacular performance to advance in both the Women’s and Junior Women’s events. The goofy-footer is the lone South African in the Women’s semi-finals and will face strong competition from the international contingent including Lucy Campbell (UK), Sol Aguirre (PER) and Ariane Ochoa (SPN).
Japan’s Minami Nonaka, fresh off her double victory in PE last Saturday, is joined by compatriots Shino Matsuda, Ren Hashimoto and Julie Nishimoto in the Women’s semi-finals.
Ceara Knight (Kommetjie) solidified the form she displayed when reaching her maiden Women’s JQS final in PE by edging out Nishimoto in the semis today to book her spot in a second consecutive final tomorrow. She will take on fellow countrywoman Steyn, and Japan’s Matsuda and Nonaka.
Along with its WSL Africa rating, the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Surf Classic is also the second of four stops on the City Surf Series (CSS). 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 calmer conditions for tomorrow’s final day and will meet at 7 am at Eastern Beach to decide on when to get the contest underway. The schedule includes semi-finals and finals for Men and Women, and the finals for the Junior Men and Women
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.