Eight South African surfers have ended the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) ranked in the Top 100, improving on the five in 2017, three in 2016 and just two in 2015.
The annual rankings are based on each surfer’s best five results after 64 events on all five continents and featuring a total of 1 384 surfers.
The top 10 in the rankings automatically qualify for the following year’s elite Championship Tour (CT). Qualification for the limited fields in the biggest QS events for the first half of 2019 also will be based on the 2018 rankings.
Matt McGillivray is the country’s highest ranked QS campaigner, ending the season at No. 30.
Thanks to his victory in the first event of the year in Israel, the Jeffreys Bay surfer was well seeded in events through the first half of the year. He finished 17th in the Burton Automotive Pro in Australia and won the Vans Surf Pro Classic at Lamberts Bay.
McGillivray went on to take 17th place in EDP Pro Ericeira in Portugal and finished the season strongly with 9th place, and a season’s best haul of 3,800 points, in the Vans World Cup held in giant waves at Sunset Beach in Hawaii last week.
Jordy Smith (Durban) has been a fixture among the world’s Top 32 on the CT for the past 11 seasons and only competed in three QS events this year, finishing No 38 overall after grabbing fifth and 13th place results in the two QS10,000’s in Hawaii along with a low 73rdplace for his token appearance at the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong in June.
Currently CT No. 6 on the CT, Smith is out of contention for the world title heading into the season ending Billabong Pipe Masters, but still has a mathematical chance of becoming the first South African male to clinch the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) title if he can better his career best fifth place result at Pipeline.
Beyrick de Vries retained his position in the Top 100 for the sixth consecutive year, finishing 49th this year after being the country’s top QS surfers from 2013 to 2016.
The KwaDukuza based 25 year-old’s strong performances in Hawaii, where he famously scored a perfect 10-point ride for what has been described as the ‘best tube ride in a contest at Sunset Beach’, saw him maintain his seeding for the major events next year.
Hawaiian based Capetonian Benji Brand is a standout there and has already won several events and also earned a coveted wildcard into last season’s Billabong Pipe Masters.
Michael February (Cape Town) will complete his rookie CT season at Pipeline over the next week and the difficulty of competing on both tours showed in his QS results as he dropped from 15th to 50th this year, while David van Zyl (Glenashley) has become a force to be reckoned with at both the Hawaiian venues of Haleiwa and Sunset Beach.
QS rookie Adin Masencamp (Strand), who clinched the WSL Africa junior title in 2017 and franked his contest credentials by claiming the region’s open men’s title this year, showed great promise in his maiden visit to Hawaii and has ensured he will qualify for big events next year with 87th place ranking.
Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) secured his Top 100 status with his 49th place result in the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa while Slade Prestwich (Durban) showed the benefits of his busy international travelling schedule and earned his best points haul when he reached the final of HIC Pro at Sunset, finishing fourth behind third placed Beyrick de Vries.
With the likes of Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) clinching the 2018 WSL World Longboard Surfing title, Grant ‘Twig’ Baker (Durban) heading the WSL Big Wave Tour rankings with just one event to go, Jordy Smith a perennial threat for the WSL Men’s World Title and rapidly improving results being achieved by the QS warriors, professional surfing in South Africa heads into 2019 in robust good health.
2018 WSL Qualifying Series (QS) – Year end Rankings
1 Kanoa Igarashi JPN 26800
2 Griffin Colapinto USA 24300
3 Seth Moniz HAW 22300
4 Ryan Callinan AUS 21660
5 Peterson Crisanto BRA 20750
South Africans (Top 150)
30 Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) 11550
38 Jordy Smith (Durban) 9450
49 Beyrick De Vries (uMhlanga) 8080
50 Michael February (Cape Town) 8050
60 David Van Zyl (Glenashley) 6900
87 Adin Masencamp (Strand) 5350
93 Benji Brand (Kommetjie/Hawaii) 4910
98 Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) 4695
115 Slade Prestwich (Durban) 3860
129 Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay) 3435