Port Alfred - What looked like a poor forecast for Day 1 of the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic turned out well for competitors, with light winds prevailing and an excellent sandbank delivering reeling right hand waves throughout the day.
The first round of the Men's QS 1,000 in Stop No. 3 on the WSL Africa Tour and the second event in the City Surf Series saw high performance action and big scores coming through. Jarred Veldhuis (ZAF) won the first heat of this round and had all three opponents in a combination position, with a total of 13.75 out of a possible 20 points heat score. Sebastian Williams from Mexico had the highest score of the round however, with a total of 14.75 points.
The Women's QS 1,000 opening round once again saw great surfing from the Japanese surfers, with Nao Omura, Julie Nishimoto, Shino Matsuda, Ren Hashimoto and Minami Nonaka all winning their first round heats. South African heat winners were the three goofy-footers Zoë Steyn, Heather Clark and S'Nenhlanhla Makhubu.
Nonaka, who did the double at the recent Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro by winning both the Women's QS 1,000 and the Junior Women's JQS 1,000, banked the highest score of Round 1 with a 12.50 points total for her best two rides to demonstrate that she is gunning for another big result in this contest.
"The conditions were a little bit challenging, but there were some fun runners out there and it's just such a super-fun break," said McGillivray. "There are some really good surfers from Japan entered into the event, and they are really ripping. I'm just going to focus on my own game, and not worry about who I am surfing against in the next round."
For Round 2 of the Men's QS 1,000 it was uMhlanga surfer Beyrick De Vries who took his performance to the next level, impressing the judges enough to be awarded a heat total of 17.50 for two excellent waves, including a 9-point ride.
"There were some very fun waves, and even though the wind was east, it was very light, so there were smooth faces," said De Vries of his heat. "The nine-point ride was my second wave and I already had an eight, so the pressure was off. I found a nice, bigger wave, which gave me a lot of speed. I first did a speed float, and as I landed that I went straight into a 180 air and held the speed through it. I got a final critical turn in, got the nose up and jabbed it to finish, and the judges gave me a nine."
Dylan Moffat was one of the internationals who advanced today, along with fellow Australian surfer Darcy Crump, Daniel Farr from New Zealand, and Sebastian Williams. The waves improved during the day and the international contingent enjoyed the highly contestable right-handers spinning across the beach, allowing them every opportunity to perform critical manoeuvres with speed, power and flow, as per the WSL judging criteria.
Joshe Faulkner from J-Bay, the winner of the Men's event at the recent Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro, also moved into the into the Quarterfinals with a heat win, along with fellow South Africans Slade Prestwich, Chris Frolich, Chad Du Toit, Luke Slijpen, Shane Sykes and the previously mentioned De Vries.
The conditions for tomorrow's Day 2 of the tournament are looking a very challenging, but there will be some more top action from the assembled surfers. We can also look forward to seeing the competitors in the Junior Men's and Junior Women's JQS events take to the surf.