The South African Junior Surfing team completed a clean sweep on Day 1 of the 2011 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Peru on Sunday when all seven surfers in action successfully advanced to Round 2 of the Qualifying stream in their respective age divisions.
The 276 competitors from 27 countries were greeted by flawless, glassy conditions and solid 1.5 to 2.0 metre waves at the two breaks of Caballeros and Senoritas, approximately 40 kilometres south of Lima, for the start of the ninth annual edition of what is the World’s biggest surfing event for surfers aged 18 and younger.
Competing in the slightly larger waves at Senoritas, a left-breaking point, team captain Davey Brand provided the perfect start for Team SA’s quest to win individual and team medals by comfortably winning his opening encounter against surfers from Brazil and Barbados in the Under 18 Boys’ division.
Brand, 18, from Western Province, who representing SA at his fourth ISA World Junior event and was a bronze medallist in the U16 division of the corresponding event in Ecuador two years back, used all his experience to record the fourth highest heat total of the day – 13.0 points out of a possible 20 – to move directly into Round 2.
He was followed by fellow U18 teammates David van Zyl (KwaZulu-Natal Central), who won his match-up with an 11.57 point total, and Steven Sawyer (Eastern Province), who finished second behind his Brazilian opponent but well ahead of the third placed Barbadian.
Mikey February (WP), the top seed in the SA U18 squad, did not compete on Day 1 and will be in action in Heat 32 of Round 1 later today.
Meanwhile across the bay, the U16’s took on the right-breaking waves at Caballeros where they were seeded against surfers from the host nation, Peru, along with Costa Rica and Ireland.
Benji Brand (WP) and Slade Prestwich (SKZN) won their respective heats ahead of the locals while Dylan Lightfoot (EP) and Diran Zakarian (WP) safely grabbed second spot behind their Peruvian opponents, while all the U16 Costa Rican and Irish surfers were relegated to the repecharge rounds in the double elimination format used at the event.
Despite finishing runner-up, Lightfoot posted the highest scoring performance by the SA U16’s with his best ride of 7.17 out of 10 and his heat tally of 12.44 both amongst the day’s Top 10 for the division.
The U18 girls did not compete on Day 1 and SA top seed Sarah Baum (KZNC) along with Bianca Buitendag (Southern Cape), Emma Smith (EP) and Nikita Kekana (SKZN) will be in action when all 24 heats of Round 1 are run in the rights at Caballeros today.
The second podium at Senoritas will feature the eight remaining heats of the U18 Boys Qualifying Round 1 followed by 16 heats of U16 Boys Qualifying Round 2.
The entire contingent of surfers and their management teams were welcomed to Peru in the traditional Parade of Nations and the symbolic Sands of the World Ceremony in Lima at sunset on Saturday.
Smartly attired in their official team colours and waving national flags, competitors from the 27 countries marched through the streets before gathering at the Parque de las Aguas waterpark. There each nation poured sand from their home beaches into a specially constructed glass receptacle to celebrate the gathering of the surfing ‘tribes’ before being entertained by traditional Peruvian dancing and a Haka by the New Zealanders.
The biggest ISA junior event held to date was officially opened by ISA President Fernando Aguerre who said, “The waves are an incredible renewable resource. There are waves everywhere; they just happen. We don’t need governments, nor people to make them, they just break, and this is why surfing is a very democratic sport. When you’re out in the ocean surfing, there’s no difference in races, colors, religions, ages, genders. Tonight we show the world that we are the United Nations of Surfing.”