Using home-ground knowledge to his advantage, HB Kruger led from start to finish to take the honours in the 60km feature race at the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic mountain bike race at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate today. The 25-year-old BCX pro from Paarl crossed the finish line in a time of 2:43:58, just under three minutes ahead of Robert Hobson, who stopped the clock in 2:46:34, with Jurgens Uys completing the podium in 2:48:30. The Boland event, which also offered a 30km option, was reinstated this year after a hiatus of a year and Kruger said it had the potential for significant growth. "There are amazing trails in this region and Paarl is a proper playground for mountain bikers," said Kruger, who won the Liberty Winelands Encounter alongside teammate Waylon Woolcock last month. "It can definitely grow because it is very well organised, the course is well marked and there is a great vibe here." He was delighted with his performance, even more so because it came in his backyard. "It was great to be able to ride to the start from my home, do the race, and then ride home afterwards," he said. Kruger said the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, which is presented by ASG Events and the City of Drakenstein, offered a testing course with a total ascent of 1 700m. "That is a lot of climbing for this distance but being from Paarl I knew what to expect so I went quite hard up the first climb. "I built up a bit of gap and then I paced myself during the race and tried to stay alert to what was happening behind me." Kruger said the conditions were dry and slippery, which meant he had to stay focused throughout. "The biggest challenge is going up Paarl Mountain, but there is some great single-track going down into Rhebokskloof. "However, it is a fairly long section and you still have to work coming down because it's easy to make a mistake and take a tumble if you are not focused." He said he had a technical issue over the closing 10km when his chain . . .
Cape Town surfers showed their form on the opening day of the BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong, using their local knowledge at Long Beach in Kommetjie to outpoint their rivals and advance to the semi-finals of the junior men’s and women’s events The World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) events got started under cloudless skies with a light offshore wind grooming the small 1 to 2-foot waves that improved as the tide dropped. Kommetjie based competitors Ford van Jaarsveld, Ethan Fletcher and Eli Beukes and Durban’s Tide-Lee Ireland won the four Round 1 heats to advance to the quarterfinals along with their respective heat runners-up. A similar pattern emerged from the quarterfinals of the JQS1,000 women’s event where Natasha van Greunen (Muizenberg) upset top seed and reigning WSL Africa champion Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) to win the first heat and Summer Sutton (Kommetjie) won the next as she and Tayla de Coning (East London) eliminated fourth seed Taghiti Gericke (Wilderness). Third seed Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) and Sarah Ingram (Cape Town) advanced from Heat 3 and rankings leader Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga) and Danica Stockigt (East London) joined them in Sunday’s semifinals from heat 4. The junior men’s quarterfinals produced fireworks as top seed Adin Masencamp (Strand) posted the highest single ride of the day, an excellent 8.0 out of 10, to wrap up the heat win and advance to Sunday’s semis along with Van Jaarsveld, who ended runner-up. They will be joined by fellow heat winners Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay), Koby Oberholzer (Warner Beach) and Beukes, along with the Elkington brothers – Jake and Max – from Kommetjie, and Saxton Randall (Durban) Similar conditions and a slight increase in swell are expected for Sunday’s finals showdown and the action will be red hot with a total prize purse of R30,000 on offer> Rankings points from the event count towards the 2017 WSL Africa titles, the selection of the WSL . . .
A number of changes are tipped to improve the experience across the board when the second Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo next month. The three-stage race, starting on June 9, is the second leg of the Encounter Series organised by ASG Events. The first leg, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, took place in the Boland last month. Route director Mel Meyer said their focus was on providing an "exclusive offering" and were catering for about 150 teams to take to the start at the Sondela Nature Reserve. "There are some serious riders in the field, but the race is also about creating a chance for those in the corporate world who like to get on their bikes and to experience what we have to offer," he said. He added that the biggest change to the event this year was two race villages compared to last year's three, with stopovers at Sondela and Elements Golf Estate. "After making the three days a bit more compact, Zebula was unfortunately just a bit far away. We can now provide an even purer mountain biking challenge for the riders. "Elements is a beautiful golf course and also a beautiful venue. We have made a plan with luxury tented packages at the venue, with the clubhouse facilities available for the entrants." He said those who wished to book in at Sondela for the weekend could make use of the shuttle services to transfer them to Elements, where the second stage starts. While the Waterberg event is a sister race to Winelands, Meyer said competitors would have a completely different experience. "The hospitality is the same, but the test on the bike is quite different. "While you have lots of mountains and climbing in the Winelands, the Waterberg provides shorter climbs, with some rocky areas and a true bushveld experience." He added that they had received positive feedback from the participants on what they were trying to achieve with the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with . . .
Surfing: BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong - Elkington and Nogueira Head Rankings Kommetjie the Venue for Fourth Stop in 2017 WSL Africa Junior Series Kommetjie local Jake Elkington and Kayla Nogueira of uMhlanga head the rankings for the second annual BOS Cape Crown pres. by Billabong that will be run at Long Beach in Kommetjie this weekend (20 & 21 May). The fourth World Surf League (WLS) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event of 2017, the BOS Cape Crown comprises JQS1,000 rated events for Men and Women and has attracted the cream of the country’s 18-and-under competitors who will competing for the prestigious titles and a total of R30,000 in prize money. The rankings points earned at the event will count towards the crowning of the 2017 WSL Africa Junior champions and also the selection of the top four men and top two women to represent the region at the WSL World Junior Championships in Australia in January 2018. Elkington, who has reached the final of all three junior men’s events this year (winning in Port Elizabeth and finishing third in East London and Durban), holds a slender 70 point rankings lead over reigning WSL Africa junior men’s champion Adin Masencamp of the Stand, who clinched the event title in Durban last month. They will be hard pressed to maintain their current standings on the leaderboard by East London event champ, Koby Oberholzer of Warner Beach and Elkington’s younger brother Max, who has contested two finals this year. Joshe Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay), Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay), Calvin Goor (Salt Rock) and Luke Malherbe (East London) fill the balance of the spots in the top eight and will be going all-out to move up the rankings with a good result on the weekend. Nogueira has been the form surfer in this year’s junior women’s events, clinching two event victories and building up a solid rankings lead over Sophie Bell (Salt Rock), Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) and Tayla de Coning (East London). But Bell . . .
Participants in the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic will go where no one has gone before as organisers continue to up the ante ahead of what they aim to make the area's premier mountain bike race. Race director Darren Herbst said both the feature event over 60km and the more family friendly offering over 30km included elements that would satisfy any mountain biker. "There are so many stand-out features on the routes, I almost don't know where to start," he said ahead of Saturday's event at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate. "A few of the local riders may have ridden some of the trails, but they wouldn't have done it in the way the race is set out, so it will still be different. "Those who are coming from slightly further afield, and who may not have ridden here regularly, will find that it's jam-packed with proper mountain biking features such as single-track, great views and varied terrain." Herbst said the feature event, which has a tough climb just 4km after the start, was not for the faint-hearted. "But it is a relatively small price to pay for gaining access to the beautiful view of the Boland below." He said it was definitely the climb of the 60km as it went all the way to the top of the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and he was confident that it would provide a great challenge for participants. This year the organisers, ASG Events in partnership with the City of Drakenstein, have also gained access to new tracts of land that will offer riders in the 60km a chance to tackle virgin territory. One of these is the property on which Blacksmith's Kitchen - one of Paarl's more popular restaurants - is situated. "The nice thing about this area is the different kinds of terrain it provides," said Herbst. "Where we pass through Blacksmith's there are a few single-track descents, contour roads that wind through vineyards and the cobbled section where you get to pass right by the restaurant." He said this addition added even more variety to a course . . .
NMMU wing Yaw Penxe is motivated for the next challenge in his burgeoning rugby career as he contemplates turning out for the Junior Springboks when the U20 World Championship kicks off this month. The 20-year-old Madibaz player, who grew up in Queenstown and attended Queen's primary and high schools, will leave with the squad next week for the tournament in Georgia. The Junior Boks play their opening game against France on May 31. A wing who wants to add a sharp edge to the team's attacking game-plan, Penxe said he was honoured to have been chosen for the squad. "It really is a privilege to represent your country, so my selection means a lot to me," said the second-year B.Comm student. "I was just very happy when I heard that I had been selected for the squad and the excitement for the journey ahead sank in immediately." Penxe said his top priority going into the tournament would be to try to play his role to perfection. "I'm just looking to do my job extremely well, especially finishing off movements." The Junior Boks have spent the last month preparing for the world championship, completing their match programme with a solid performance against the Varsity Cup Dream Team, defeating them 50-19 in Stellenbosch recently. Penxe said he had fitted in very well with his teammates. "It's been a lovely experience thus far and it just gets better by the day, honestly. "But we know we will have some tough challenges in Georgia because we are up against strong teams in France, the hosts and Argentina." Penxe has been playing rugby since he could run, while he also excelled in athletics when at Queen's. "My earliest memory of playing rugby is diving over the line to score my first try, only to end up getting winded," he recalled. "I also competed in a number of national athletics meetings at a junior level." Penxe has packed a fair degree of experience into his young career. He has played Super Rugby and said one of his memorable . . .
The popularity of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge was confirmed this week with an increase in the number of teams for the Border Coastal leg in East London on Sunday. Tournament director Tim Stirk, of Cambridge High, said the initial excitement in the series had manifested itself with the addition of Grens and Alphendale to the eight teams that competed last year. After the first two events were played in Graaff-Reinet and Queenstown, the Border Coastal tournament will take place at Cambridge, with the final scheduled to start at 4.20pm. "Introduced for the first time last year, the teams are now a bit more aware what the tournament offers and there is increasing interest in being involved," said Stirk. Although he felt that defending champions Hudson Park and Clarendon would again be the sides to beat, he expected keen competition among the teams. He said the format of 20-minute matches levelled the playing field and he did not rule out any upsets on the day. Hudson will head pool A where they will be joined by Lilyfontein, Cambridge, John Bisseker and Grens. Pool B will comprise last year's runners-up, Clarendon, along with Stirling, Merrifield, Greenpoint and Alphendale. Stirling, who lost to 2-1 to Clarendon, and Lilyfontein, who went down 4-0 to Hudson, were the losing semifinalists last year. SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Alan Stapleton said there was lots of excitement brewing for the Border Coastal leg. "Teams like Clarendon, Stirling and Hudson Park are among the early favourites, but we are looking forward to another exciting day of competition." He said the competition tied in with SPAR's values of family and passion as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle and teamwork. "It's good to be supporting hockey, especially at a junior level. We are able to interact with our future customers and, via them, thank their parents for their support." The Border Coastal tournament is . . .
Cape Town, May 20 and 21, 2017 BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong - Venue and Swell Forecast. Cape Town – this year the BOS Cape Crown will once again return to Long Beach in Kommetjie, one of the most consistent surf spots in the deep south and a popular venue for the local contest organisers. Local surfers will get a big head-start on their peers from up country, with the Durban-based crew at a disadvantage due to the extreme cold water that is prevalent around Kommetjie. To be surfing in boardshorts or bikinis all year and to then climb into a 4’3 rubber wetsuit is obviously going to be restrictive, and this will most definitely play a part in the visitors performances. On top of this, a wetsuit that is holding water will weigh in at about 4 kg, also making a noticeable difference to surfboard performances. Slight adaptations to surfers’ craft might have to be made in order for the upcountry surfers to be able to adapt easily. Local surfers will already have all of this covered. The Elkington brothers have been on form of late, and will no doubt be ready for a big result at this venue. They will be joined by Eli Beukes, a Long Beach local who can kill it out there on any given day. Luke Slijpen from Llandudno is another surfer who will have no trouble if the water gets cold and the wind gets strong. Similarly Summer Sutton will undoubtedly put on a strong performance at this event as she is attuned to the conditions already. According to the noted surf forecaster Spike from www.wavescape.co.za there will be great waves on tap for the weekend. “There is some swell in the area, mainly from the west,’ said Spike. “This will be combined with southerly breezes, so the competitors are going to get good waves all weekend.” The 2017 Cape Crown presented by Billabong is already a step up from last year’s event with the addition of QS1000 Pro Junior Divisions for Girls and Boys and forms part of the Billabong Junior Series that along with other . . .
Kingsridge had another successful outing when they won the Border Inland tournament in the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge for the second time in Queenstown on Sunday. The King William's Town school qualified for the provincial finals in August after defeating Aliwal North High 1-0 in the final. Tournament director Bev Forword said the match was the culmination of another "wonderful day of hockey, in which the players had fun and showed great sportsmanship". She said one of the highlights of the tournament was the exciting cross-pool play-off between Aliwal North and hosts Queenstown Girls' High. "Aliwal equalised with two minutes to go and forced a penalty shoot-out, which they won 2-1. "It is the second year in a row that Girls' High have lost in a shoot-out after being edged by Burgersdorp last year." Burgersdorp reached the semi-finals again, but could not contain the strong attacking play of Kingsridge, who won 6-0. Forword made special mention of tournament debutants St Christopher from King William's Town. "They have never played on astroturf before, but performed with such passion and with a great spirit. They ended up sixth which was highly commendable." SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Alan Stapleton said they welcomed newcomers such as St Christopher to the tournament. "It was excellent exposure for them as well as for schools such as Aliwal North, Hangklip, Templeton and Burgersdorp," he said. "We have seen a lot of interest from these schools as they get a chance to compete against sides they would not normally meet. "And, from another perspective, it is a great opportunity for coaches to try out different combinations and to introduce younger players into the first team without too much pressure." He added that the regional tournaments had been "a huge success", attracting the attention of hockey supporters in the way Twenty20 cricket does. "There is a great vibe to these . . .
BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong Long Beach in Kommetjie will see the return of the BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong on Saturday and Sunday. The event has grown in importance and is now a selection event for the South African junior team to compete in the ISA world junior championships in Japan in September. Turning up the heat, it is also an event on the World Surf League (WSL) pro junior calendar and offers sought-after qualification points for the prestigious WSL u.18 world junior championships in Australia at the end of the season. It is also the second leg of the long-running Billabong junior series, which is celebrating 20 years of junior competition. A number of local surfers will be vying for the Cape Crown division titles and aim to secure their team spots to represent South Africa at the junior world championships. After WSL qualification events in Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban, Jake Elkington from Kommetjie leads the field among the WSL U18 boys. He is narrowly ahead of Adin Masencamp from the Strand, Koby Oberholzer from Durban and Jake’s younger brother Max. Natasha van Greunen and Sarah Ingram, both from Muizenberg, will be trying to move into the qualifying positions in the WSL U18 girls’ ranking which are currently held by Durban surfers Kayla Nogueira and Sophie Bell. Three local surfers, Max Elkington from Kommetjie, Luke Slijpen from Llandudno and Eli Beukes from Kommetjie, are currently in the top positions for selection for the u.16 boys’ South African team. Summer Sutton from Kommetjie and Julia Plougmann from Scarborough are sitting just outside the qualifying positions for the u.16 girls’ team. Other local surfers to watch out for are the Van Jaarsveldt brothers – Ford and York – and Ethan Fletcher from Kommetjie who will be keen to post solid results. The event organisers are hoping for the good conditions which helped make last year’s event such a success, but as the saying goes “a good . . .