Lambert's Bay - the Vans Surf Pro Classic, stop number five of eight on the 2019 WSL Africa QS tour, will kick off this Friday. The fourth edition of this exciting tournament has a wide international field, with competitors from Mauritius, Mozambique, Australia, Mexico, Germany Israel, New Zealand and Australia up against most of South Africa's best surfers.
The event location, Yoyos in Lambert's Bay, is the high performance ‘Trestles' of the West Coast, and is an idyllic arena for this WSL rated event. A shorter but hollow right-hander off the peak has a perfect ramp section for huge aerial moves, especially when the south-east wind starts puffing, while the left off the peak is the longer ride, with open faces for carves as well as lip lines for huge turns, making for the ultimate contest venue.
The contest will be staged from Friday to Sunday, May 31 - 2 June and features a QS1,500 rated event for Men, a QS1,000 for Women and a Junior Qualifying Series 1,000 Men's event for surfers 18-and-younger.
The Men's event is going to see a new champion crowned, with the high-flying 2018 champion Matthew McGillivray already committed to a number of events in South America and not entered into the event. Matty's performance last year in the right-handers was quite a show, with the young JBay natural-footer taking to the air a number of times for some of the best scores of the event. In his absence, South African surfers like Dylan Lightfoot, Jordy Maree and Adin Masencamp, along with Luke Dillon from the United Kingdom could all step up to the podium.
The Women's event is peppered with an international contingent of experienced surfers, with the likes of Japanese surfers Nao Omura and Ren Hashimoto, Rachel Presti from Germany, Anat Lelior from Israel and the seasoned competitor Ariane Ochoa from Spain all entered. Never fazed by the foreign competition, all eyes will be on dynamic young goofy-footer Zoë Steyn, as well as fellow goofy-footers and savvy competitors Heather Clark, Nikita Robb and Tanika Hoffman. There will also be some ferocious competition from the likes of Teal Hogg, Sophie Bell and Nicole Pallet.
All eyes will be on defending champ Eli Beukes in the Junior Men's event. Beukes grew up in Lambert's Bay, and has been a local at Yoyos for much of his formative surfing years. He knows the wave better than anyone, and understands all the quirks and tricks of the peak. The competition in the Junior Men's is always fierce and surfers like South Africans Thomas Lindhorst, Luke Slijpen and Luke Thompson as well as Jackson Butler from USA and Lenni Jensen from Germany are all in it to win it.
The forecast for the event looks really good at this stage, with fine weather and calm to light offshore conditions expected throughout the contest period. There is also a punchy little medium-sized swell predicted to stick around the whole weekend; so all competitors are going to be able to really cut loose with speed, power and flow, and run through their repertoires for the assembled judges.