CAPE TOWN – KwaZulu-Natal’s Jonathan Rorke spearheaded South Africa’s beach sprint challenge on the opening day of the International Surf Rescue Challenge at Mount Maunganui, Taranga in New Zealand.
Rorke and the Eastern Cape’s Bradley Odendaal were inspirational in South Africa winning the Beach Sprint Relay, while Rorke finished second in the marquee Beach Sprint final.
Rorke earlier in the year stunningly upset South Africa’s King of Beach Sprinting Ryle de Morny at the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships at Camps Bay in Cape Town.
And his form in New Zealand has proved as impressive, despite this being his first international event.
De Morny is the most celebrated South African beach sprinter and one of the best internationally, having won 10 World Championship medals, including four golds in sprint and flags.
But he was not available to compete in New Zealand. In his absence, Rorke and Odendaal continued South Africa’s tradition of being among the medals in sprints and flags.
Odendaal, a star for South Africa at the recent Sanyo International Cup in Japan, finished third in the flags.
South Africa’s presence in the sand extended to the junior competition, with Ronaldo Pedro combining speed and the most spectacular of dives to win the flags.
Pedro (among the juniors) and Rorke and Odendaal (in the seniors) produced the best individual South African performances, but they were too few to seriously challenge the collective effort of world champion hosts New Zealand and Sanyo Cup champions Australia.
South Africa’s female contingent, strong at the Sanyo Cup in Japan, was competitive in most disciplines, but not good enough to overshadow the consistent performances of the New Zealanders and Australians, who dominated the top two standings in most events.
South Africa is fighting it out with the United States of America for third place overall and finished the opening day just two points behind the USA. Japan are fifth, followed by Great Britain and Canada.
Australia leads New Zealand by six points in the Open Division and by seven points in the Junior Division. South Africa is third.
The event, which concludes tomorrow, will include the 2017 International Surf Rescue Challenge and 2017 International Surf Rescue Youth Challenge. Additionally, the 2017 Tri Nations Challenge and 2017 Trans-Tasman Challenge will be contested as part of this event.
The event is based around a comprehensive competition programme conducted over three tests, which includes swim, surfboard, surf ski and beach events.
The ISRC originally started in 1939 as the Trans-Tasman Series between Australia and New Zealand, with the current format of the event first conducted in 1999, which included South Africa and then followed by other countries, which are currently participating.
An overall point score will be maintained in both the Open and Youth categories with the winners being declared the Open and Youth 2017 International Surf Rescue Challenge Champions.
The following countries are participating at the 2017 International Surf Recue Challenge:
Open age teams: New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, South Africa, United States,
Youth teams: New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, United States.