Thick mist and very little visibility greeted competitors and event organisers on Day 1 of the Vans Surf Pro Classic at Lamberts Bay on the West Coast of Cape Town. With a Men's QS 1,500, Women's QS 1,000 and Men's JQS 1,000 event, everyone was keen to get going, but it was impossible to see. You could hear the waves, but there was no way of knowing what was going on out there.
As the sun started burning through the mist, the surf revealed itself as glassy and perfect three to four-foot runners, reeling down the YoYo's reef. The Men in the Vans Surf Pro Classic were sent out as soon as the judges could see the lineup.
Standout performances included young Luke Thompson from South Africa having a good knock against Jackson Butler from America and Llewellyn Whittaker, also from South Africa. Luke went to town in the highly contestable conditions, including a 7-point ride for his opening wave, punctuated with some high risk lip moves and inside floaters, setting the tone for the heat. Butler was a credible second place finisher, advancing with Thompson, with Whittaker sent packing.
Max Elkington was also on fire in his first round heat, scoring the top points for the heat with a total of 12.75. Lenni Jensen from Germany did well to advance along with Elkington, at the expense of Thomas Lindhorst and Ntando Nqdala.
In the Junior Men's event Angelo Faulkner sounded the first warning bell that this event was his, banking a massive heat total of 15.35 and totally dominating his Round 1 heat from the outset. York Van Jaarsveldt advanced in second, while Aaron Protheroe and Elrico Meyer were both eliminated.
The Junior Men went on to surf their quarterfinals, and it was Luke Slijpen who was the best surfer of the day in this division, amassing a heat total of 16 points for his two ride total, including a near perfect nine point ride. Angelo Faulkner continued his winning ways in this round, along with Luke Thompson and defending champion Eli Beukes. Surprise eliminations included York Van Jaarsveldt and Max Elkington.
Lenni Jensen won his Junior Men's Round 1 heat, seeing the German surfer advance in his second event on Day 1 at YoYo's, having already advanced in the Men's QS. Aya Gericke advanced with him, while Brad Scott was eliminated from the event.
The Women's QS 1,000 was totally dominated by international competitors, with six out of the eight surfers advancing through Round 1 from countries outside of South Africa. The first heat saw Piper Harrison from Australia and Rachel Presti from Germany advance at the expense of highly rated South Africans Nikita Robb and Sophie Bell. In heat two it was Anat Lelior from Israel and Anne Dos Santos from Brazil advancing.
Heat three was an all-South African affair that ultimately saw Natasha Van Greunen and Heather Clark advance at the expense of highly acclaimed surfers Teal Hogg and Zoë Steyn, with the young goofy-footed Steyn getting an interference. The final women's heat saw Australian Pacha Luque-Light and Japanese powerhouse Nagisa Tashiro defeat Kayla Nogueira and Summer Sutton, both from South Africa.
The forecast for tomorrow looks even better than today, with light winds predicted, plenty of swell forecast to stick around, with clean and perfect conditions expected from the outset.