Joshe Faulkner from Jeffreys Bay and Minami Nonaka (Japan) clinched the Men’s and Women’s titles respectively at the Nelson Mandela Surf Pro in good surf with Nonaka completing a rare double by also taking out the Junior Women’s event as well.
The final day‘s action was held in solid head high waves and gusty offshore winds at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro, Stop No. 2 on the WSL Africa Tour, comprised Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 rated events for Men and Women and JQS 1,000 events for Junior Men and Women aged 18-and-under.
Despite Faulkner’s good start to the men’s final, the result was in the balance until the last ride when Australian teenager Dylan Moffat had a chance to grab victory, but the wave closed out and he couldn’t get the 7.15 point score he needed for victory and had to settle for third place.
Faulkner, who chose to sit away from the other three finalists, steadily built his lead throughout the 30 minute encounter, adding a 6.40 to the 6.75 he had secured earlier (both rides out of a possible 10 points) for a title-winning total of 13.15 out of 20.
“This is the best thing ever,” said an emotional Faulkner on the podium. “Throughout the years I sometimes make the semis and then the next event I get knocked out in the first round, so I am super-stoked to have my first QS win under the belt.”
Durbanite Chad Du Toit, the only finalist over the age of 20, forced his way into contention with the best ride of the final, for which he earned an excellent 8.25 and briefly took the lead, but he couldn’t find another good second score and ended runner-up.
Koby Oberholzer (ZAF, Warner Beach) appeared to peak in the semis and could only muster a pair of threes and finished fourth overall.
The Women’s event was an all Japanese affair for the first time in a QS event outside their home country and demonstrated the impetus that surfing has gathered there since being included as a discipline in next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Nonaka, who won the Cape Town Surf Pro in the Mother City last year, was in a class of her own in the final, opening her account with an excellent 8.0 and then waiting patiently for the best waves while her three rivals chased anything that broke throughout the lineup.
The eventual winner opened the scoring in the final with an excellent 8.0 which left her opponents needing huge scores to overtake her, and then sealed her victory with a 7.25 on the final ride of the heat.
Professional surfing contests will continue in South Africa, culminating in the Corona Open JBay, a world championship tour event that takes place in Jeffreys Bay from 9 – 22 July and forms part of the annual JBay Winterfest.
Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro Results:
1. Joshe Faulkner (ZAF, Jeffreys Bay) 13.15 points
2. Chad du Toit (Durban) 12.50
3. Dylan Moffat (AUS) 9.85
4. Koby Oberholzer (ZAF, Warner Beach) 7.20
1. Minami Nonaka (JPN) 15.25 points
2. Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 11.50
3. Ren Hashimoto (JPN) 10.15
4. Shino Matsuda (JPN) 8.25
Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro Junior Men’s Final Results
1. Eli Beukes (ZAF, Kommetjie) 15.0 points
2. Luke Thompson (ZAF, Durban) 14.25
3. Karl Steen (ZAF, Durban) 8.25
4. Ntando Nqdala (ZAF, Muizenberg) 6.15
Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro Junior Women’s Final Results
1. Minami Nonaka (JPN) 12,95 points
2. Ceara Knight (ZAF, Kommetjie) 12.10
2. Julia Camargo (BRA) 8.75
3. Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 7.25