Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong
Day One – Pollock Beach
Small, light onshore but highly contestable conditions met the competitors in the inaugural World Surf League (WSL) World Qualifying Series (WSL) event this morning. After a slight delay, while waiting for the conditions to settle, it was straight into the QS event.
Comprising World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) rated events for men and women, plus Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) events for men and women aged 18-and-under, the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro offers a total prize-pool of R80,000 plus points counting towards international and regional rankings lists.
Billabong South Africa is the presenting sponsor, and they were in attendance as the best surfers in the country, as well as a contingent of international surfers, gathered for the start.
“Billabong is really proud to be kicking off the inaugural Surf City Series in our backyard of Port Elizabeth. It is a fantastic initiative and an awesome opportunity for our local surfers to finally have their own domestic tour. Well done to everyone who made it possible and the best of luck to all the surfers competing,” said Chad D’Arcy, Billabong South Africa’s Marketing Manager.
The QS1,000 rated men’s event features a 64 man field including the cream of South Africa’s surfers. The top seed is Michael February (Kommetjie), currently the country’s highest QS ranked surfer at No. 65, followed by 2016 WSL Africa champion Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) and Braden Jones (USA).
The QS1,000 women’s seeding is headed by Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay), Teal Hogg (uMhlanga) and Fay Zoetmulder (Cape St Francis) with Tayla Hanak (AUS) the only international among the 24 competitors.
Reigning WSL Africa Junior champion Adin Masencamp (Strand), Sebastian Williams (Durban) and Kommetjie residents Jake Elkington and Ford van Jaarsveldt are the top four in the JQS1,000 junior men’s event, while the JQS1,000 women’s field is headed by Sophie Bell (Salt Rock), Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), Taghiti Gericke (Mossel Bay) and Olivia Izzard (Umhlanga).
In the first heat of the day it was young Ford van Jaarsveldt who took the win over the much-vaunted Mikey February, ahead of Gavin Roberts and Jerry van Wyk.
“The waves are super fun, really rippable, and fun to compete in,” said Ford of the morning conditions. “I moved around a lot out there and tried to find the best waves I could. I actually found my best waves at the end of the heat and picked up a good insider right at the end of the heat that ran through and I got the score.”
Other surfers who did well on the opening day were Koby Oberholzer and Tide-Lee Ireland from Durban, Craig Johnson form Cape Town, Brandon Jackson from Durban, Dale Staples from ST Francis Bay, Beyrick De vries from Durban and Braden Jones from USA.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro is the first stop in the City Surf Series, which will also visit East London, Durban (twice) and Cape Town; the first of four JQS events in the 20th annual Billabong Junior Series and the first event counting towards the crowning of the 2017 WSL Africa regional champions in September.
More Info on Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro presented by Billabong Day One here: https://www.facebook.com/Billabong/