Jeffreys Bay local Steven Sawyer finished runner-up to Brazilian Phil Rajzman in the final of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship in China on Sunday.
Sawyer started the final day of competition by defeating Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) and Cole Robbins (USA) in Round 4, before overcoming the challenges of former world champion Harley Ingleby (AUS) in the quarters and Sphaier again in the semis in the inconsistent 1 – 1.2 metre waves.
Rajzman got off to a fast start in the final, posting a championship winning total of 17.34 on his first two rides.
Sawyer opened his account with an excellent 8.50 for a series of critical nose rides and sweeping cutbacks, but was left chasing a score of 8.85 for the remainder of the 30 minute encounter.
The South African found some long set waves under priority but couldn’t quite post the excellent score he needed, coming closest with a 7.93 on his penultimate ride.
After a disappointing 2015 event, to finish second in the world this year is as good as a win for Sawyer.
“I am so stoked, I just can’t believe it,” Sawyer said. “There were a few things I could have done better in that heat to win but I’m just as happy with second as I would have been winning the thing.
Every heat I made was just a bonus. When I made it to the fourth round I was ecstatic. Making it to the final I feel like I can go home and be proud forever.”
The Jeffreys Bay resident is just as dynamic on a shortboard as he is on a longboard, winning a wildcard into the JBay Open Championship Tour event in his home town in July.
He earned US $6 000 for his runner-up spot in China and will be seeded second at next year’s world longboard champs.