The top-seeded surfers dominated the opening rounds of both the men's and women's events at the Cape Town Pro presented by Quiksilver which got underway in testing 0.5-to-1.0 meter waves and light winds at Big Bay in Bloubergstrand Saturday.
Including World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series QS1,000-rated events for men and women, the Cape Town Pro offers competitors the opportunity to earn priceless points on both the both the QS and WSL Africa regional rankings, along with prize- purses of R30 000 for men and R20 000 for women.
Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga, ZAF), the men's top seed, generated the required speed, power and flow in the small conditions to earn scores of 7.67 and 5.83 (both out of 10) and won his opening encounter, with Bevan Willis (Durban, ZAF) clinching the runner-up position and joining de Vries in the Round of 16.
"That was my first heat of the year and these conditions I had to create the energy and the speed that I needed, so I'm stoked to get the win," said de Vries, the country's highest rated QS surfer for the past three years. "It's really great to have some QS events in South Africa, and it's good that the waves are small so the up and coming stars get to practice in the type of conditions that you experience when you're traveling on the tour."
Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay, ZAF) has already competed in QS events in Portugal, Hawaii, Australia, Martinique and Argentina this year and displayed the form that sees him currently ranked inside the top 100 on the QS leaderboard.
Lightfoot posted a heat tally of 14.50 (out of 20) to advance to the last 16 along with second placed Jarred Veldhuis (Cape Town, ZAF) as the pair eliminated junior Luke Slijpen (Llandudno, ZAF) and the experienced Dan Redman (Umdloti, ZAF).
"Conditions are really small today so you've got to know which ones are the runners. I was lucky enough to find the right waves that let me do a couple of turns," said Lightfoot. "I'm overwhelmed to have a couple of QS events in South Africa to build a platform where local surfers can earn some points. It's a great starting point for locals and having everything in place to use the priority system is just awesome."
Reigning WSL Africa champion David van Zyl (Glenashley, ZAF) showed a welcome return to form after a bad injury last year. The 23-year-old racked up two scores in the excellent range and delivered a heat total of 16.40 -- the highest of Day 1.
Joaquin Del Castillo (PER) was the only one of the three international surfers in the event to reach the last eight, with Adrian Zorriketa (EUK) eliminated in Round 1 and Nate Dorman (USA) sidelined in Round 2.
The Cape Town Pro is the first WSL QS event for women to be held in the Mother City for over 30 years (since 1992) and completed Round 1 and the Round of 16 with the top three seeds all safely through to the last eight in the event.
Tanika Hoffman (Clifton, ZAF) justified her top seeding, producing high scoring rides on both her forehand and backhand and leaving runner-up Nikita Robb, the 2015 WSL Africa champion (East London, ZAF), needing an excellent score for the heat win.
"It's really inconsistent out there but its contest surfing so I just played the patience game out the back and got some good ones," said Hoffman. "The four-person priority makes competitive surfing so much easier because if stops the hassling for waves and we can concentrate more on producing the best rides. It's so exciting to have some QS events here for girls and hopefully we'll start getting some international women coming over to compete in the future."
Teal Hogg (Umhlanga, ZAF) and Nicole Pallet (La Lucia, ZAF), the second and third seeds, also won their heats but fourth seed Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay, ZAF) was eliminated when she finished third behind experienced QS campaigners Tarryn Chudleigh (Kommetjie, ZAF) and Faye Zoetmulder (Port Elizabeth, ZAF).
The Cape Town Pro resumes at 8am on Sunday with Beyrick de Vries up against local Diran Zakarian (Melkbosstrand, ZAF), Michael Monk (East London, ZAF) and Dillon Fernandez (Cape Town, ZAF) in the first heat of the day. The Semifinals and Finals of the both the men's and women's and women's event will feature one-on-one heats before the champions are crowned at the awards ceremony on the beach.