Port Alfred: The Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic kicks off on Monday in the coastal town of Port Alfred and is stop No. 3 on the WSL Africa Tour, and No. 2 on the City Surf Series.
Located at the mouth of the Kowie River, lying almost exactly halfway between the larger cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, Port Alfred boasts an often perfect right-hander that peels across the beach on the eastern side of the river mouth, and is a powerful, high-performance wave that is ideally suited for surfing tournaments.
The competition this year will again feature QS1,000 rated events for Men and Women and introduces JQS1,000 events for Junior Men and Women.
The Women's JQS event includes the talented South African duo of Ceara Knight from Cape Town and Zoë Steyn who hails from East London and will have the advantage of having spent many hours surfing at Kowie. Along with their local contemporaries, this pair faces off against international competitors Sol Aguirre from Peru, Julia Camargo from Brazil, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro dual women's event winner Minami Nonaka from Japan.
The Men's JQS event is jam-packed with talent, with the likes of recently crowned Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro winner Eli Beukes, reigning WSL Africa Junior Men's champion Luke Slijpen, Max Elkington and Luke Thompson. The international contingent includes Rodrigo Saldanha and Luan Hanada, both from Brazil.
The Women's QS 1,000 entry is peppered with international surfers, who have made the trek all the way to Port Alfred to compete in what has quickly become a prestigious event on the City Surf Series. The Japanese surfers dominated in Port Elizabeth and event winner Minami Nonaka and fellow finalists Julie Nishimoto, Shino Matsuda and Ren Hashimoto will be looking to repeat that over the next three days.
Add the likes of Great Britain's Lucy Campbell and Peony Knight, Brazilians Julia Camargo and Isabela Saldanha, Spain's Ariane Ochoa and Peruvian Sol Aguirre into the draw and the South African's are going to have be at their best to claim this title.
The 2018 Port Alfred Men's champion Jordy Maree has not entered as he will be competing in Japan, so this year will see a new champion crowned. The competition is loaded however, with the best South African surfers set to face off against a torrent of international talent.
The local contingent is headed by Joshe Faulkner, who is still pumped after his maiden QS victory in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, his fellow finalists there, Chad Du Toit and Koby Oberholzer, perennial standout David Van Zyl, seasoned QS performer Beyrick De Vries as well as Dylan Lightfoot and Slade Prestwich who have just flown back from competing in QS events in Europe.
International competitors include inform Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro finalist Dylan Moffat from Australia, the American pair of Dylan Christensen and Gabriel Sutton, Luan Hanada and Renan Hanada from Brazil, as well as Hawaiian Joshua Chester, New Zealander Daniel Farr, Mexican Sebastian Williams and popular Mauritian surfer Brian Jean Patrice Furcy.
The Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic is the second of four events in the City Surf Series (CSS) which, alongside the world-class surfing action, also embrace sustainability and transformation programs such as the Surfing South Africa Learn To Surf outreach project in collaboration with Caltex, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Ocean Pledge.
Ocean Pledge will assist in creating ‘Blue Events', while the NSRI will be educating members of the public, competitors, local schools and surf outreach programs about ocean safety and ocean awareness.
All the action from Finals day on Wednesday will be streamed LIVE via the WSL_QS Facebook page.