It was Bob Marley who said, ‘Some people feel the rain. Other's just get wet.' Surfers competing today at the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic were those people who were just getting wet, embracing the rain and surfing through it all as it fell. The waves were still surprisingly contestable underneath it all, and there were some great rides and high scores coming through.
The international competitors totally dominated the Women's QS 1,000 today, with Zoë Steyn the only South African to advance to the semifinals. The dominant Japanese surfers were ruling, with Julie Nishimoto, Shino Matsuda, Minami Nonaka and Ren Hashimoto all advancing, along with Ariane Ochoa from Spain, Sol Aguirre from Peru, and Lucy Campbell from Great Britain. Despite the at-times torrential rain, the waves still reeled off, and were conducive to high performance surfing, with the girls going great guns to advance to their semifinals.
The Men's QS 1,000 powered all the way through the quarterfinals, and it was Slade Prestwich who was on-point with his surfing, advancing comfortably into the semifinals with the highest heat total of the round. Slade found the pockets, and tapped into some of the onshore energy that was available out there to lock in two great rides and a total score of 14.45 out of a possible 20 points. Slade is a powerful South African natural-footer who found the conditions much-suited to his surfing today.
Other surfers to win their quarterfinals today were Eli Beukes (ZAF), Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) and Darcy Crump from Australia, and also advancing to the semifinals were Beyrick De Vries, Luke Slijpen, Chad Du Toit and Joshe Faulkner, all from South Africa.
Zoë Steyn was the standout in the Women's JQS event, executing multiple high-risk moves on one of her top two waves in her semifinal for a score of 8.75 points. Combined with a backup ride of 4.75, she advanced easily into the final of this tournament, along with Shino Matsuda.
In the second semifinal it was the on-form Minami Nonaka from Japan who won, taking second placed Ceara Knight from South Africa through with her to the finals, set to take place tomorrow. The two South African goofy-footers are going to be stiff competition for the Japanese surfers, but all four of the contestants have shown that they are hungry for a win in this event, and there will be no friends out in the water when they face off for their final heat tomorrow.
"Conditions were quite challenging and it wasn't all that easy out there with all the wind and the rain, but there were definitely some really good waves," said Steyn of her semifinal heat. "It was all about getting the good ones. I think everyone is a tough opponent because you can't underestimate anyone out there. I knew that I needed a score, and I got a really good looking wave. I did a nice first turn, and and I set it up off the bottom because there was quite a heavy close-out section. I timed it nicely and hit it, and luckily I made it."
Thomas Lindhorst (East London) has been chipping away at the first two events in the City Surf Series (CSS) and he emerged victorious in the first semi-final of the men's JQS contest, relegating the perennial ripper Beukes into second place ahead of Max Elkington and York Van Jaarsveldt. Sometimes slipping under the radar, this could easily be the contest where Lindhorst finds his rhythm and gets a big result. In the second semi-final, Luke Slijpen continued his winning ways, and forced Luke Thompson into second place, eliminating Mitch Du Preez and Saxton Randall along the way, making the final an all South African affair.
There is an interesting weather and swell forecast for the final day of the tournament tomorrow, and it looks like Kowie is going to produce some excellent waves again.