Eastern Province dominated the Hurley SA Junior Champs in their home surf at Jeffreys Bay, clinching the coveted Freedom Cup team trophy for the first time in the 16 year history of the event and earning three of the six SA individual titles and three of the five special awards on offer.
South Africa’s premier event for surfers aged 17-and-under ended on Sunday after enjoying a phenomenal five straight days of excellent surf at the Point with offshore winds every day, giving the competitors every opportunity to showcase their talent.
The team title was extremely close with the powerful KwaZulu-Natal Central (KZNC) team from Durban finishing just 184 points behind EP in second place, with defending champions Western Province a distant third, 1 143 points further back. Boland placed fourth followed by Southern KZN, Southern Cape, Border, the SA Development Academy and Zululand.
The hosts’ Matt McGillivray was the standout performer in JBay, producing inspired surfing that saw him win every heat on his way to the SA U15 boys’ title. He was deservedly crowned the Hurley Surfer of the Contest, in association with All Aboard Travel, earning a R20 000 voucher to any destination in the world, and then pocketed another R5 000 for winning the Red Bull Airshow where he beat the best aerial surfers at the event.
Benji Brand (WP) was on fire on the final day, employing his trademark vertical backhand repertoire to win the SA U17 title and also taking home the R3 000 for the Citroën Highest Heat Score award when he posted a 17.0 point out of 20 total in his semi-final encounter. Diran Zakarian (Boland) took the runner-up spot with Jason Harris (KZNC) in third and Ethan Pentz (WP) placing fourth.
JBay local Gina Smith (EP) was another who went unbeaten throughout the event, going on the be crowned the SA U17 girls champion ahead of Inge McLaren (Border), teammate and last year’s U15 champion Tahra Uren (EP) and Caryn McNicol (KZNC).
McGillivray’s dominating victory in the U15 boys division saw Shane Sykes (KZNC) finish second with Jordy Maree (WP) taking third place and Nthando Msibi (KZNC) in fourth place and receiving the Zigzag Blowing Up award and a R3 000 prize-purse.
The U15 girls’ final was a closely fought affair and when the spray settled Crystal Hulett (EP) was the champion with Chanelle Botha (SKZN) close behind and Olivia Brand (KZNC) and Ruth Armstrong (WP) placing third and fourth.
Adin Masencamp (Boland), who had held the lead in the Citroën Highest Heat Score award for the first four days of the tournament, successfully defended his U13 boys’ title, finishing just ahead of arch-rival Ethan Fletcher (WP). Jose Faulkner (EP) took third and Max Elkington (WP) placed fourth.
The U13 girls’ title went to Sophie Bell (KZNC) who racked up a massive 15.0 points to deny Kai Woolf (EP) a second successive title in her home surf. Ashleigh Vaughan finished ahead of Danica Stockigt (Border) in the final to grab third place.
The Skullcandy Team Spirit award was presented to Eastern Province whose enthusiasm and support for their teammates paid off with team and individual honours that will go down in the annals of SA surfing history.