It was another cracker of a surf morning at Port Alfred, with a fresh new west swell wrapping into the bay to meet the perfectly formed sandbank. Lined up and head-high waves greeted the competitors on day two of the second event of the 2018 WSL Africa tour - the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic.
The Women's Longboarding division hit the water in the sublime conditions, and the surprises continued with Marishka Myers showing great form to advance all the way to the final. Here she came up against a dominant Crystal Hulett, who ended up winning the division with Myers the runner-up.
"This was the first time that I've ever surfed a WSL event, and I was just really happy to be a part of it," said a stoked Myers. "I wasn't at all expecting to make it though to the final, but I'm super stoked that I did. The conditions were a little bit tricky as the waves had a bit of a bump, but it was a very fun heat, actually."
Nicole Pallet continued her winning ways in the QS 1,000 Women's event by beating the powerful goofy-footer Faye Zoetmulder in their opening quarterfinal encounter. The Argentinian Josefina Ane was another surfer who has been surfing with finesse throughout the event, and she too won through to the Semifinals, set to take place tomorrow.
In the afternoon the conditions changed somewhat, with a growing swell and a few extra knots of wind making the line-up a little bit rippy and washy, and the surfers had to really put their shoulders in to keep pushing against the rip. The Men's Longboarding saw the experienced, and extremely fit, Steven Sawyer and Michael Hill advance to the Semifinals, along with the much-vaunted Matthew Moir and Thomas King.
In the QS 1,000 Men's event it was powerful surfing that won the day in the bigger conditions. Slade Prestwich found top form, absolutely blitzing his heat, and advancing through to the Quarterfinals in first place. Prestwich has been competing internationally, and has had mixed results in places like Barbados and Martinique, French West Indies. His surfing was on-point, and he racked up a number of powerful moves to bank a heat total of 14.50.
The experienced competitor Greg Emslie was his usual polished self, putting in enough effort to win comfortably at a venue that he knows very well. Young Max Elkington did well to follow him through to the Quarterfinals, leaving Shane Sykes and Diran Zakarian out of the event.
"The waves were pretty good out there," said Emslie of the conditions. "There's a wide bank and you do need to find the right ones. It has been a good three to four-foot on the sets. I'm just going to stick to my game plan, and get the job done for now. Jordan Lawler has been ripping. He's got a great style and has been putting some good moves together, and then Slade Prestwich is also looking really solid."
After Emslie's heat, it was time for the underdog surfer Jordan Lawler from Australia to vindicate the assessment. He did just that. The powerful and stylish goofy-footer placed 9th last weekend at the VW Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro pres by Billabong and was the winner of the final Round 5 heat, banking an 8.5 for a string of radical backhand moves. He backed this up with a 6.75, and the heat was his. David Van Zyl advanced with him, and they will be competing on Finals day.
Talking of Finals day, it looks like the swell is still going to grow some, with more energy and size in the swell that is filling in. The wind is forecast to be light and variable in the morning, with a moderate onshore switch later, so the contest will no doubt make full use of the morning conditions.