Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) and Jordy Maree (ZAF) clinched the men's and junior men's titles at the Vans Surf Pro Classic which was completed in epic 1.0 to 1.3 metre waves and ideal conditions at YoYo's in Lamberts Bay on Sunday.
The first World Surf league (WSL) events to be run north of Cape Town on the West coast of South Africa, the Vans Surf Pro Classic showcased the country's best men and junior surfers as they chased a total prize-purse of R50 000 and invaluable points on the Qualifying Series and WSL Africa regional rankings.
The Final of the QS1,000 rated men's event saw Beyrick De Vries (uMhlanga) and compatriot Michael February (ZAF - Kommetjie) go head to head in a spectacular high-flying air show. With a light crosswind blowing perfectly into the rights, both surfers punted manoeuvres above the lip on virtually every ride and each ended up counting a pair of eight-point scores.
It was de Vries' rides that impressed the judges more though, and he earned his first QS event title along with R12 000 in prize-money and 1,000 points when his 8.67 and 8.47 left him a slim 0.40 of a point ahead of February's 8.23 and 8.07.
"Thanks to the locals for letting us use their waves and especially to Vans for bringing a QS event to a spot where the waves are so good," said de Vries on the podium before going on to thank his sponsors and family for their fantastic support. "Thank you to everyone who came, you looked left or right and everybody was smiling. Big ups!"
His points haul moved de Vries into 99th spot on the QS rankings and to No.1 on the WSL Africa rankings after just two events this year. February's 750 point gain saw him jump 30 places to QS No. 33.
"The final was always going to be a tough one, especially against Beyrick and with the waves we've been having," said February. "I had priority for the last seven minutes and nothing came, but I'm happy anyway. This wave is the best, it really brings out the best in everyone's surfing and allows you to use your whole repertoire of manoeuvres."
The junior Final saw a quartet of South Africa's top U-18 rippers tearing up the pumping A-frame peaks with Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay) dominating from start to finish to clinch his first JQS event title and take the early lead in the WSL Africa junior rankings.
Accumulating scores of 8.33 and 9.33 on his opening rides, Maree had his opponents in a combination situation from the outset. Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) delivered a 7.67 but still needed a near-perfect 9.99 while Adin Masencamp (ZAF - Strand) and Max Elkington (appearing in a final with his brother for the first time), needed to improve both their counting rides when the heat ended.
"That's my first JQS victory and I'm super-stoked. I've been training hard and it was good to get a win under my belt," said an elated Maree. "There were so many waves that I just waited for priority and chose the best ones. That played in my favour and I got an 8.33 and a 9.33 which was enough for the win."
The men's semifinals were nail-biting encounters punctuated by incredible manoeuvres with both going down to the wire. In the first, de Vries racked up an excellent 8.83 and followed that with a 7.77 before Davey Brand (ZAF) got on the scoreboard. The goofy foot from Kommetjie responded with scores of 7.93 and 8.33 and, needing 8.28 for a place in the final, he came agonizingly close when he was awarded an 8.10 on his last ride in the closing seconds.
"It went very well in terms of the my strategy and the riding of the waves, but it's tough to figure out what went wrong there, because I don't know what really did," said a disappointed Brand. "I've surfed here at YoYo's a few times and I rate it highly. As a contest venue for a QS you probably couldn't get anywhere better and its pretty awesome that Vans brought the event up here."
The second semi saw February open up with an 8.67 and an incredible 9.50 before Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) posted his first meaningful score of 7.50. The lanky Kommetjie ripper then added an even better 9.60 which left McGillivray facing a daunting 19.10 total, the highest of the event.
But SA's highest ranked QS surfer coming into the event grabbed a set wave and posted a perfect 10 point ride, his second of the day, to get back into contention. Still requiring 9.10, McGillivray waited patiently but did not get the opportunity to complete what would have a famous comeback and had to settle for third place overall and a haul of R3 000 and 560 points, which elevated him seven places to No. 34 on the QS rankings
"I knew Mikey (February) was going to throw down some big scores and he got two nines on the lefts. So I waited a long time for a set and managed a 10 to break the combination, but nothing more came in the last couple of minutes," said McGillivray. "I'm still happy with my performance and the way I surfed. And I've never had two 10's in an event, so I'm stoked.
The Vans Surf Pro Classic set the bar for performance surfing in South Africa and YoYo's established an instant reputation as one of the best contest sites in the country, being likened to the famous Lower Trestles in California by many of the competitors
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.