Young guns and veterans alike tore into the two-to-three foot waves at New Pier in Durban on the opening day of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley. The event organizers completed Round 1 and the first 10 heats of Round Two in the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series QS3,000 rated men's event.
Cloudy skies and occasional light drizzle did not dampen the level of performances from the South African and world's best performers, with multiple scores in the excellent range (8.0 or more out of 10).
Mateus Herdy produced one of the standout results of the day's action, emerging with the heat win after a titanic battle with compatriot Weslley Dantas, South Africa's Dale Staples and Henrique Pyrrait.
Herdy burst out of the blocks with an 8.0 in the opening minutes and then produced an outstanding near-perfect 9.6, the highest single score of the day, to establish a substantial lead over his opponents. Staples held onto second place until the dying moments when Dantas delivered the score he needed and grabbed the runner-up spot and a place in Round Three.
"My board is pretty good, the waves are really fun and very similar to my home break at Joaquina in Florianópolis and this stretch of beach reminds me of Brazil, so I feel really comfortable here," said Herdy.
"I'm here for ten days in Durban and now I'm just focusing on the contest. Then I'm going to Cape Town. I came to South Africa to do all these QS and junior events so I'm here for a couple of weeks and hope to do well."
Peterson Crisanto posted two rides over 9.00 to claim the highest heat total of the day, an 18.17 out of a possible 20, in his Round 1 heat. The 25-year-old then just scraped through his Round 2 encounter which was won by Nick Callister.
One of Salt Rock's best, Shane Sykes, was the top South African performer today, winning the first heat of the event and then slamming the door on his Round Two rivals with a strong 9.00 in Round Two to advance into Round Three.
Portuguese surfing legend Tiago Pires, 37, in South Africa to coach and mentor the next generation of his country's surf stars, showed he has lost very little of the skills that saw him spend most of the last decade at the very highest level of the sport on the WSL Championship Tour (CT), by convincingly progressing to the next round
One of North America's best new QS threats,Nolan Rapoza, won a tightly contested heat when he held off the challenge of Hawaiian based South African Benji Brand, who had not caught a single wave at the halfway mark. But rides of 5.87 and a closing 7.33 saw Brand join the young American in the next round.
"That heat went pretty well and I did exactly what I wanted to do. I got the first wave on the inside, a left with a little double up at the end," said Rapoza. "Then I was fourth priority and went over to where the other guys were sitting and a bomb came in and that's just what I wanted."
Organizers will complete Round Two and Round Three in the men's event before ending Thursday's action with the JQS1,000 junior men's event.
The provisional schedule for the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley sees the junior champions crowned on Friday 16 June (Youth Day), the women's title decided on Saturday and the men's final run on Sunday.
An outreach program will be conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) during the event. Participants will be involved in beach activities, water coaching, a tag team contest, beach relays and an Easter egg hunt with all participants receiving breakfast, lunch and a commemorative medal.
The Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing is proudly supported by Hurley, Tsogo Sun, Durban Tourism, Skullcandy, El Jimador, Yesman, California Dreaming, World Surf League, Surfing South Africa and Accelerate Sport.