YoYo's at Lamberts Bay produced classic conditions for the opening day of the Vans Surf Pro Classic with the competitors in both the WSL QS1,000 men and WSL JQS1,000 junior events reveling in the 1.0 to 1.3 metre waves that reeled off in both directions.
The first World Surf league (WSL) events to be run north of Cape Town on the West coast of the country, the Vans Surf Pro Classic features the cream of the country's surfers along with a handful of international campaigners who are competing for a total of R50 000 in prize-money and valuable points on the QS and WSL Africa regional rankings.
Early morning windless conditions saw a host of unranked competitors advancing from the men's Round of 48 heats before Joshe Faulkner (ZAF) posted the highest heat total of the day, 17.50 out of 20, in the junior Quarterfinals, which was nearly matched when the top seeded men entered the fray as the onshore freshened during their Round of 32 match-ups.
"That went okay for me, I got two bombs. The first one was a 9.33 and my backup wave I did two turns and a fins-free slide that I didn't think would be an eight, but I'm stoked with the score,' said Faulkner about his heat. "I've never surfed on the West coast before and YoYo's is a sick wave, it looks a lot like Trestles."
All of the top eight seeds advanced to the last 16 of the men's event with Beyrick de Vries (ZAF), Michael February (ZAF), Davey Brand (ZAF), and Matt McGillivray (ZAF), the country's highest QS ranked surfer, all earning heat totals of more than 16.0, including at least one ride in the excellent range.
De Vries, the No. 1 seed, who produced rides of 9.33 and 8.0, was full of praise for the choice of venue and the sponsor's willingness to run the event off the beaten track in order to ensure good waves.
"Thank you so much to Vans for putting on an event for the surfers and not for the spectators," said de Vries. "I think when the surfers are having fun the spectators enjoy it a lot more too - it's visual, it's evident. So thanks to a surf company that's put the surfers first by finding a spot with a good wave and a cool vibe and putting on a QS 1,000 event"
Peruvian Joaquin Del Castillo, winner of the Cape Town Pro QS1,000 at Bloubergstrand last weekend, proved that he will be a threat to the best local performers again this week by winning his opening encounter.
"I'm really happy to make my heat, there are very good surfers in the competition and fun waves, said Del Castillo humbly in his fast improving command of English. "I like these waves, they are like the waves near my home - at San Bartolo - that also break left and right. I'm focused for the next round and I'm confident."
Chris Leppan (ZAF), winner of the Vans Surf Pro Wildcard Trials on Friday, advanced to the last 16 and will face Brandon Benjamin (ZAF) who was allocated the wildcard that Leppan did not need as he was already in the event. The pair will face McGillivray and Lightfoot in the last heat of the men's Round of 16.
An increase in swell and windless conditions Sunday look are predicted to set up an exciting final day of action where the men and junior champions will be crowned.
The Vans Surf Pro Classic is proudly supported by Red Bull, the West Coast Boardriders Club and Christian Surfers South Africa. Zigzag Surfing Magazine is the media partner.