Michael February ramps off the white water in a move called the floater in the Billabong Pipeline Masters. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL

South African surfers are cracking good results overseas as we move into the final event of the world tour in Hawaii.

Jordy Smith and Mikey February are directly through to Round 3 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters after winning their Round 1 heats, with Smith easing ahead of comeback king Kelly Slater to take that honour.

For February, it’s bitter-sweet.

While we have a record eight Saffas finishing the 2018 Qualifying Series (QS) in the Top 100, including February, he will be disappointed to drop out of the Championship Tour (CT) after his rookie season. He finished 50th on the QS.

Some might say this failure is a blessing in disguise for the gifted Cape Town surfer, who recently scored a lucrative deal with lifestyle brand Vans and will relocate to California.

As many fans have noted, he is a great ambassador for South Africa and diversity. His value to his employer goes far beyond contest results, and they have recognised that.

For proudly South African fans, we have a world longboard champion in Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) while Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban) heads the WSL Big Wave Tour with one event to go.

Our adaptive surfing team are looking good in La Jolla, and we can hopefully expect a gold medal in the AS-1 division with JP Vaudrey and Anthony Smyth smashing their opening heats.

Smith, sixth on the CT, may be out of contention but has a chance of becoming the first South African male to clinch the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) title if he can better his career best fifth-place result at Pipe.

Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) won the VTCS women’s crown in 2001, the only South African to claim that accolade. It is only second to the World Champion title in status.

South Africans have really upped the ante in Hawaii this year after a long hiatus that goes back ages to when guys like Shaun Tomson, Martin Potter, Gavin Rudolph and Johnny Paarman charged the North Shore.

It also shows in the big wave scene, with numerous strike missions from Cape Town surfers such as Matt Bromley, who carve out bucket-loads of cred in waves of consequence.

Several factors are converging to enable this new dawn, not least the work by WSL Africa in growing prize-money and pioneering new events in Africa.

Perhaps the Red Bull Big Wave Africa played its part, with the seeds sown in those years seeing a maturing new generation.

Perhaps we can thank the beachhead secured on the North Shore by Hawaiian-based Capetonian Benji Brand, who has a house on the beach near Pipeline, and is a stand out. He has just earned another coveted wildcard into the Billabong Pipe Masters.

The highest ranked QS South African (30th), Matt McGillivray, spends a lot of time with his Hawaiian girlfriend Zoe McDougall, and that is paying off.

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He won a QS3 000 event in Israel early in 2018, but couldn’t crack results in big events. He finished strongly though, taking ninth at the QS10 000 Vans World Cup in huge surf at Sunset Beach last week.

Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) stays in the top 100 (49th) for the sixth consecutive year. He hasn’t cracked the big time, but has paid his dues and won respect.

He famously scored a perfect 10 for the ‘best tube ride in a contest at Sunset Beach’.

David van Zyl (Glenashley) has been charging Haleiwa and Sunset Beach, while QS rookie Adin Masencamp (Strand), showed promise in his maiden visit to Hawaii and qualifies to surf next year ranked 87th.

Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) looked good for his 49th place in the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, while Slade Prestwich (Durban) reached the final of QS3 000 HIC Pro at Sunset, finishing fourth behind De Vries.

We may not be the best in the world, but are among the most respected. The future could be a win-win in both.

Weather Tip

Sunny, warm to hot weather will prevail this weekend, with moderate to fresh southerly winds today in head-high surf, while tomorrow the wind blows stronger but the swell holds at four foot or so.

Muizenberg will be onshore and messy today, but worse tomorrow.

@spike_wavescape


Weekend Argus

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