The country’s best junior surfers produced major upsets and spectacular triumphs as the semi-finalists and finalists in the various age categories were determined in pumping waves on the penultimate day of the of the Billabong SA Junior Champs presented by BOS at Jeffreys Bay.
Using the perfectly groomed 3 foot waves pouring down the point as a canvas for their full repertoire of manoeuvres, the top contenders advanced to today’s final day when the 2016 national champions in the U17, U15 and U13 boys’ and girls’ divisions will be crowned and the sought after Freedom Cup trophy awarded to the winning district team.
The U13 boys’ division completed their quarter-finals early in the day with the top seeds from Cape Town Surfriders (CTS) and hosts Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), Alex Townsend and C Jay Posthumus, both eliminated as their counterparts from eThekweni (ETK), Buffalo City (BC) and Ugu progressed.
James Ribbink (ETK) was the standout in the semis later in the day, winning his heat to set up a final against teammate Luke Thompson and Mitch Du Preez and Daniel Emslie (both BC).
“The waves were great out there. Going into the final I don’t really focus on who I am going to be surfing against, I just focus on my own performance,” said Ribbink, who competed in a short wetsuit despite the cold water temperature. “I didn’t find it that cold, and anyway I hate wearing a full suit, I’m from Durban.”
The U13 girls’ division was also reduced to the final four with Kayla Nogueira (ETK) and Lhea Johnston (BC) claiming semi-final victories and in contention for the title when they come up against runners-up Jessie Powell (Ugu) and Zoe Steyn (BC) in the final on Sunday.
Cape Town Surfriders’ Summer Sutton and Julia Plougmann grabbed the top two places in the first U15 girls’ semi-final, upsetting eThekweni top seed Olivia Izzard in the process. Kai Woolf (NMB) and Gabi Lailvaux (ETK) staked their claim for the title by advancing from the second semi-final.
There were upsets galore in the U15 boys’ quarter-finals with highly touted Tide Lee Ireland and Saxton Randall (both ETK), Aya Gericke (Eden) and Luke Slijpen (CTS) all ousted from the event.
The semis will feature York Van Jaarsveldt (CTS), Karl Steen (ETK) and JBay local Ryan Lightfoot and Dillon Hendricks in Heat 1 while the second semi will be a match-up between Max Elkington and Manoa Robb (both CTS), Thomas Lindhorst (BC) and Angelo Faulkner (NMB).
The U17 girls’ quarter-finals produced excellent surfing with Kirsty McGillivray (NMB), Taghiti Gericke (Eden), Sophie Bell (ETK) and Anna Jellema Butler (CTS) clinching victory in their respective heats.
They will come up against the Cape Winelands’ pair of Natasha van Greunen and Sarah Ingram along with Nina Harmse (Eden) and Danica Stockigt (BC) in the semis.
After the elimination of SA U20 boys’ champion Ethan Fletcher (CTS) and the withdrawal of Sebastian Williams (NMB), the prized U17 boys’ crown will be a shootout between Adin Masencamp (CW), Koby Oberholzer and Calvin Goor (both ETK), Luke Malherbe (BC), Liam De Villiers (Uthungulu), Ford Van Jaarsveldt (CTS) and the Nelson Mandela Bay’s Joshe Faulkner and Rewaldo Abersalie.
Cape Town Surfriders, the defending Freedom Cup holders, will be hard pressed to retain their team title and will be relying heavily on the remaining contenders to finish in the top two of their divisions.
Hosts and last year’s runners-up, Nelson Mandela Bay, and 2014 team champions eThekweni will be going all out to earn the coveted trophy in 2016.