Pollock Beach, Port Elizabeth: It was another morning of tricky conditions for the second day of the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro at Pollock Beach, the first event in the 2019 City Surf Series (CSS). Light onshore winds, small surf and a blinding early-morning glare made it a challenge for all competitors, but still some incredible surfing went down.
The Men's QS 1,000 round of 32 were the first to hit the water, and young South African goofy-footer Chris Frolich from Durban was finding the gems in the rough conditions, and connecting his moves all the way through. On the morning low tide the waves were breaking far out, yet Frolich found some great rides and linked some impressive turns for the highest heat score in this round.
In the Junior Men's quarterfinals, local surfers were dominant with eight South African surfers making it through to the semifinals. Luke Slijpen was his usual stylish self, winning his heat with ease and advancing along with Karl Steen. Luke Thompson and Thomas Lindhorst both scored 11.50 points (out of a possible 20) for their heat wins in the second and third heats respectively, while Angelo Faulkner and Ntando Nqdala were the final two surfers to win through from this round, and will also be surfing in the semifinals tomorrow.
The Women's QS 1,000 quarterfinals kicked off just as the wind died down for the day. The tide came surging in, and combined with the lack of wind, the waves improved considerably, allowing the ladies to pick up some great rides. The highest heat score of the round went to Japanese surfer Ren Hashimoto with 13.75 out of a possible 20 points, and the second highest heat score went to Julie Nishimoto, also from Japan, with 13.50 points.
The Men's QS 1,000 competitors were sent back out to contest their quarterfinals, and once again it was Luke Thompson and Luke Slijpen who were impressing the judges and spectators alike, with their focused surfing and strong and stylish moves in the bowling waves. Chad Du Toit also found heat winning form, and the J-Bay surfers Joshe Faulkner and Dylan Lightfoot both won their heats with ease to advance to the semifinals.
Lightfoot has been campaigning on the QS internationally and is a talented surfer with great competitive experience earned on his travels. He is looking strong and focused at this stage of the competition. Event defending champion David Van Zyl from Durban bowed out in this round. Van Zyl could not find a decent second wave in his heat, and was eliminated in third place.
Alongside the surfing action, today also saw an introduction to surfing event for kids from the local surf outreach program - the SSA Learn To Surf program, in collaboration with Caltex, NSRI and Ocean Pledge. About 70 kids were involved with the learn to surf program, as well a community beach clean up, and it was a resounding success, with surf-stoked kids everywhere. This outreach program will be a regular at all the City Surf Series events going forward.
The Junior Women's quarterfinals saw some of the best surfing of the day as awesome waves revealed themselves to the competitors. Goofy-footer Zoë Steyn was the South African standout, while Minami Nonaka from Japan posted the highest heat total of the round to secure her berth in the semifinals. Kayla Nogueira (ZAF) and Brazilian Julia Camargo advanced from their quarter, while Ceara Knight (ZAF) managed to sneak through in second place despite being marked for an interference in her heat and losing the points awarded for one of her two counting rides.
"At first it was quite hard to surf, as the wind was strong and the tide was so low," said heat-winner Steyn. "Then the wind dropped off and the tide started to push and it got really fun out there. The Japanese girls are surfing really well, they have been shredding all event. Sadly I got knocked out in my QS heat but I've still got the JQS to focus on."
The day's action finished with the Red Bull Flair Show, with R5 000.00 up for grabs for the surfer who exhibits the best flair - the special or instinctive ability to do something well with style and originality. It was won by Paul Sampson, with a wild move nicknamed the Masala Gatsby.
This event will conclude tomorrow, before the WSL Africa Tour moves up the coast to Port Alfred for the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic, the second event in the City Surf Series, which will take place 22-24 April.