The South African leg of the annual WSL Africa Tour gets underway on Thursday when competitors in the third annual Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro take to the waves at the Pipe on Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth.
After the successful launch of the 2019 regional surf tour at the historic inaugural Senegal Surf Pro in West Africa last month, the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro is Stop No. 2 on the seven-event tour and runs from yesterday to Saturday, 18-20 April
The annual tour crowns the WSL Africa regional Men’s, Women’s and Junior champions with coveted points earned at the events also counting towards the international QS rankings for the open surfers and towards the selection of the squad to represent Africa at the World Junior Surfing Championships in December.
The 2019 tour kicks off with a virtual double-header as the Nelson Mandela Bay event is followed closely by the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic, 150 kms up the East coast at the mouth of the Kowie River.
That is followed by stops in Durban (May), Lamberts Bay on the West Coast and then back to Port Elizabeth (both June) before culminating at Ballito on the KwaDukuza coast of KwaZulu-Natal in July.
David van Zyl (Glenashley), the 2018 Nelson Mandela Bay Men’s champion, will be back to defend his title, as will Junior Men’s champ Dillon Hendricks (Cape Town).
However, the Women’s and Junior Women’s events will crown new champions this year as Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay), who won both titles in 2018, is currently overseas.
A solid contingent of international competitors will be participating in the first four events on the SA leg before scores of the world’s best surfers arrive for the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing in June, where the QS3,000 Women’s event is the highest rated event for females on the continent, and for the QS10,000 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill which celebrates its 51st edition in July.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro is also the first of four events in the City Surf Series (CSS) which includes the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic, the Zigzag Durban Surf Pro and the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing.
The competitive surf season culminates in the Corona Open JBay, a World Championship Tour event that takes place In Jeffreys Bay from 9 – 22 July 2019.
The Corona Open forms part of the annual JBay Winterfest, a multi sport and entertainment festival.
Photo: Robbie Irlam