Pollock Beach, Port Elizabeth - The early morning onshore conditions soon settled down at Pipe for the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley, and when the offshore southwesterly wind came puffing through, the surf improved drastically for Day 3 of competition on what is also known as International Surfing Day.
The Men's QS 1000 contest scored the best waves of the day, and there was a run of high-performance heats, with plenty of powerful and stylish surfing within WSL judging criteria. The corresponding high heat scores were indicative of the action in the water.
Sheldon Simkus from Australia was the first surfer to show the he meant business, putting an 8.67 on the scoreboard, backed up with a 6.33. He won the first heat of this division, and advanced along with Matthew McGillivray from South Africa.
Lenni Jensen from Germany was another surfer who went big, with a heat total of 15.40. The powerful natural-footer put on a virtuoso performance in the long right-handers on tap at Pollock Beach to win his heat, and advance along with South African Jake Elkington.
Heat three was an all-South African affair, and the local surfers went all-in to progress through this crucial round. Koby Oberholzer ruled supreme, and put down the highest heat score of the day for an emphatic win with 16.67 points. Koby, the son of free surfing legend Frankie Oberholzer, found two great rides, and strung together a series of rail carves and aerials for both scores to come through in the excellent range. On-form Durban natural-footer Slade Prestwich advanced in second with a polished performance, while Diran Zakarian and Dillon Hendricks were eliminated in third and fourth spots respectively.
The talented young South African goofy-footer Jordy Maree was in total control of his heat, surfing with speed, power and flow while mixing it up with snappy and fast forehand and backhand turns, and won his heat in relative comfort. Joshe Faulkner, the winner of the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro at the same venue just a few weeks ago, came second and advanced along with Maree, while two more South Africans in Max Elkington and Mitch Du Preez both bowed out of the event.
The final heat of the round saw South African hopeful Adin Masencamp blitz his way through for the win, banking pocket sixes to lead by the narrowest of margins in the still highly contestable conditions. He came in 0.03 of a point ahead of Luan Carvalho from Brazil with both surfers through to fight another day. This final saw the loss of Bryce Du Preez and Angelo Faulkner from the event. Currently rated 42nd on the WQS, Masencamp was a runner up at this event last year, eventually losing out to Jackson Baker from Australia in the final.
"The conditions were super-fun, definitely some of the best PE I've ever surfed," said a stoked Masencamp. "To get a first heat win takes a lot of the nerves away, and I'm looking forward to building momentum through this event. My goal is to win, of course, taking no prisoners. The main goal is to qualify for the CT, but right now the short-term goal is to get into the Corona J-Bay Open, get the wildcard and snatch it away from Matt McGillivray and Dylan Lightfoot. I'm excited for the rest of this event."
In the Junior Men's QS 1000, Tide-Lee Ireland and Angelo Faulkner were both going for the airs, punting some big moves on the inside to take it one-two, with Ireland in front, while Tristen Botes was sent packing. Saxton Randall and Brad Scott dominated their heat, with Scott eventually taking the win. Randall advanced alongside him, eliminating Luke Van Wyk and Christian Venter.
The Junior Women's Round 1 kicked off with some exciting and committed surfing from Australia's Pacha Luque-Light and Piper Harrison. Both won their heats by getting the best waves early, earning a spot in the next round.
The forecast for Sunday sees a moderate lift in the swell, but this comes with a slight onshore breeze. It's going to be another day of high action as we get to the business side of the contest however, with every heat crucial for surfers competing in this event. The Juniors Men and Women champions will be crowned tomorrow as well.