Team South Africa has slipped to 8th place in the provisional rankings for the team medals at the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships taking place in Peru after five of the seven days of competition have been completed.
A total of seven SA surfers were eliminated from the event as the organisers ran a marathon 52 heats on Thursday in preparing to finish the world’s biggest junior surfing event on Saturday instead of Sunday when it is forecast that the waves will exceed 6 metres (20 foot).
The good news to come out of the South African camp was the performance of U18 Boys David Brand, Mikey February and David van Zyl who, along with Dylan Lightfoot in the U16 Boys, all posted convincing victories over highly ranked opponents to remain in the winner’s bracket in their respective divisions and just three heats away from the Grand Final and a medal.
The other SA surfer still in contention is Bianca Buitendag in the U18 Girls who was relegated to the repecharge rounds along with compatriots Emma Smith and Sarah Baum, but went on to win her Repecharge Round 4 heat and is now six heats from the Grand Final, all of which are do or die affairs where Buitendag needs to finish first or second or face elimination from the event.
The topsy-turvy day started out with all three SA girls dropping into the repecharge rounds after third or fourth place finishes in the rights at Caballeros. Diran Zakarian (U16 Boys) also dropped into the repecharge rounds before Lightfoot restored some pride with a narrow heat win to advance to U16 Boys Qualifying Round 4. And then the three U18 Boys boosted the confidence levels as they each won their heats to progress.
Jeffreys Bay local Steven Sawyer was eliminated in fourth place in his U18 Boys Repecharge Round 4 heat to exit the event in equal 41st place with 280 points.
With two days to go, 80 surfers from eight countries are fighting for the Individual and Team Gold. Going into Day 6 the situation looks favorable for Hawaii and the USA, both of whom still have a mathematical chance to finish with a perfect score.