There has been a lot of talk about Kai Woolf, with surf raconteur Derek Hynd long expounding her skills and talents as world class. Growing up on the walls of Lower Point and then Supertubes in J-Bay, she has honed her backhand skills to a point where she can often seems totally unbeatable.
That was the result today, with Kai winning both the JQS division and the Women's division at the VW Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro pres by Billabong at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth.
Not known as ‘The Windy City' for nothing, the contest site had the full wind switch during the event, that made for some challenging conditions through a few of the finals. After blowing light onshore and making the waves difficult to find walls and thus high scores, there was a story that a gale-force west wind was heading up the coast. As forecast, it hit the contest site during the women's final, causing the surfers to change their approaches somewhat.
It didn't faze young Kai though, who is used to surfing the waves of J-Bay in the howling offshore winds that are common there, and which see surfers carving off the top or turning mid-face to ensure that they don't get stuck in the lip and blown off the back of the wave. Her approach was successful, and she put Sophie Bell, Anna Jellema-Butler and Olivia Izzard into the minor placings in the JQS final, and defeated Nicole Pallet in the Women's final.
Kai has a long and illustrious professional surfing career ahead of her. Her brave approach when the waves get solid at places like Supertubes draws admiration from surfers and spectators, and she has been winning junior events for a good few years now.
It was an exciting men's final, and a proud moment for David Van Zyl, who took the win from Adin Masencamp. Van Zyl is a hard-working WQS campaigner and this win might see him off on a trajectory that could get him into the big leagues that he is striving for. Without wishing to detract from Adin's performance throughout the event - he was electric from his first heat - Van Zyl is relentless on the Qualifying Series, and this excellent result is just what is needed to get him fired up and winning more heats and events. He's highly skilled in all conditions, charges when it gets bigger, and has the full repertoire of aerial moves when it's smaller and punchy. Van Zyl could possibly be the next South African to climb on and represent on the Championship Tour alongside Jordy Smith and Michael February.
"I remember watching Mikey doing so well in these events last year and then going on to qualify," said Van Zyl. "It's definitely a great start to the year to get a result here, and I'm really hoping I can do the same as Mikey."
Van Zyl will need to keep consistency and a positive approach going into the next two events. Both the next two contests take place this month, being the Royal St Andrews Port Alfred Classic pres by Quiksilver at East Beach in Port Alfred, followed soon thereafter by the Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres by Reef Wetsuits at Nahoon Reef in East London. Not long after will see the ZigZag Durban Surf Pro pres by G-Force take place at New Pier in Durban.
Along with @Dillon Hendricks winning the JQS Men, the first event of the City Surf Series proved to be an exciting start to a massive year of surfing for South Africa. This year Africa is set to host 14 events, offering prize-money totaling over R18 million, with the South African domestic tour specifically looking exceptionally healthy.