Nelson Mandela Bay - Pristine, but small conditions were on tap for the second day of competition at the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth. Being the 6th stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Africa Qualifying Series (QS) and the 4th City Surf Series (CSS) event of five, this is where the race for the WSL Africa leaderboard will get exciting.
Loads of high-action surfing went down, as the Men's QS took to the water for the first time, and the Women's QS went on to surf their Round of 32 thereafter.
Sheldon Simkus from Australia showed great form, picking up a few long, winding right-handers that allowed him to string together a series of radical moves. He was well rewarded by the judges, with a heat score of 14.67 for the highest heat score for the day in the mens event. This competition has a number of international surfers competing, but it was South African Max Elkington who put on a great performance in heat seven to take the win and advance to the next round.
The waves improved after the morning low tide as the Womens' Round of 32 took to the water. It was still a challenge to rack up two high scoring waves in the small conditions, and this round saw a few great performances, as well as some huge upsets. Tia Blanco from Puerto Rico showed dominance in the first heat of the round, quickly putting down two good scores on her forehand on the reeling lefts. She advanced along with Melanie Giunta from Peru, eliminating Pacha Luque-Light from Australia and Hinako Kurokawa from Japan.
Hawaiian Summer Macedo had a good day at the beach today, winning her heat ahead of the much-vaunted Sara Wakita from Japan. One of the first surprise eliminations was the loss of Ren Hashimoto in this heat, as well as that of Eveline Hooft from The Netherlands. Hooft was one of the most on-form surfers in the previous two rounds and had been tagged for a good result at this event.
Talking about surprises, Vahine Fierro and former Championship Tour surfer Pauline Ado, both from France, eliminated top seed Philippa Anderson from Australia and Leilani McGonagle from Costa Rica, while South Africa's former CT campaigner, Bianca Buitendag also ended last in her heat in one of the biggest upsets of the day.
Sarah Baum was the only South African to advance to the next round. Baum secured second place behind Japan's Minami Nonaka, who won the heat with 11.90 points on the board while Leticia Canales Bilbao from Spain and Camilla Kemp from Portugal were sent packing.
The forecast for tomorrow Saturday, 15 June, which is also celebrated as International Surfing Day around the world, looks favourable, and the rest of the competition is likely to enjoy great surf as the new swell starts pulsing overnight. Following the WSL's announcement of a series of sustainability commitments, a Global Paddle Out will be hosted at Pollock Beach, Port Elizabeth to encourage the ocean community to #StopTrashingWaves and take the WSL Pure pledge to help protect the oceans.