Matt McGillivray launched his 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) campaign with a fifth place finish in the first event of the season, the QS3,000 rated Seat Pro Netanya in Israel.
The 21-year-old from Jeffreys Bay, who won the corresponding event in Israel last year, narrowly advanced through three rounds where he finished second in each of his four-man heats, before he was ousted in his man-on-man quarter-final encounter with eventual event runner-up Tristan Guilbaud (FRA).
“I have such good memories from last year so I was really excited to be back here again,” McGillivray said after scraping through his Round 4 encounter with a last minute ride.
“It was a momentum shift for me winning here and it helped so much with the confidence. I finished with a good seeding, picking up more points in Hawaii and I’m just hoping to make the best of it in the first half of this year.”
The event was won by Eithan Osborne (USA) who defeated Guilbaud in the inconsistent 1 -1.5 metre waves to clinch his maiden QS event title.
South Africa’s Liam de Villiers (Richards Bay) finished 65th after placing third in his Round 2 match-up while Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) won his Round 3 clash but bowed out in equal 25th spot overall after placing fourth in his Round 4 clash.
McGillivray, ranked No.30 in the QS rankings at the end of 2018, the highest by a South African, is set for a busy first three months of the season that will see him circle the globe competing in events in Hawaii, Brazil and Australia.
He has entered the QS3,000 Volcom Pipe Pro at Pipeline in Hawaii, which starts on 29 January and runs until 10 February, where he will be joined by compatriot Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay).
McGillivray then jets to the island of Fernando do Noronha, off the coast of Brazil, for the QS6,000 Hang Loose Pro (19-24 Feb) which will also feature WSL Africa 2018 men’s champion Adin Masencamp (Strand).
Three days later the pair are due to get their campaigns underway in the QS3,000 Vissla Central Coast Pro at Avoca, Australia (27 Feb – 4 Mar) before participating in the QS6,000 Burton Automotive Pro at Newcastle, Australia, (11-17 March) where they will be joined by Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga).
South Africans enjoyed one of the country’s best ever years on the international surfing stage in 2018 with Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) clinching the WSL World Longboard Surfing title, Grant ‘Twig’ Baker (Durban) heading the WSL Big Wave Tour rankings (with just one event to go), Jordy Smith (Durban) finishing fourth in chase for the WSL Men’s World Title and a record-setting eight South African surfers ranked in the Top 100 of the year end QS rankings.
These annual rankings are based on each surfer’s best five results after 64 events rated from QS1,000 to QS10,000 on all five continents, which in 2018 featured a total of 1384 competitors.
The top 10 in the rankings automatically qualify for the following year’s elite Championship Tour (CT) and also for starts in the limited fields in the biggest QS events for the first half of 2019.
For full results from the Seat Pro Netanya, along with news, images, videos and more see www.worldsurfleague.com
SEAT PRO NETANYA FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Eithan Osborne (USA) 11.53
2 – Tristan Guilbaud (FRA) 8.93
SEAT PRO NETANYA SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Eithan Osborne (USA) 14.10 def. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 12.97
SF 2: Tristan Guilbaud (FRA) 12.37 def. Cole Houshmand (USA) 11.50
SEAT PRO NETANYA QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 13.80 def. Leon Glatzer (DEU) 12.50
QF 2: Eithan Osborne (USA) 11.73 def. Reo Inaba (JPN) 11.73
QF 3: Tristan Guilbaud (FRA) 12.10 def. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 8.13
QF 4: Cole Houshmand (USA) 13.43 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.06