South African surfing legend Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) features in the semi-finals of the Open Women's division of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz South African Surfing Championships which will see national champions from nine divisions crowned at Nahoon Reef in East London this weekend. Photo: Pierre de Villiers
There were smiles aplenty on day three of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz South African Surfing Championships yesterday when contestants were greeted with perfect two metre waves and offshore winds at Nahoon Reef in East London.

The event organisers were quick to make use of the classic surf conditions by adding the Open Men’s quarter-finals to the schedule of events.

“One of the stand outs in the Men’s Open division thus far has been Jake Elkington (Cape Town City Surfriders) in his first year of competing in the event as an open surfer,” said event media liaison Tasha Mentasti from Accelerate Marketing.“

Another big surprise in the Open Men’s division was Simo Mkhize (Ugu Surfriders - formerly Southern Natal) who advanced to the quarter-finals along with local favourite and national team coach Greg Emslie (Buffalo City Surfriders).”

The Open Men’s division has now been narrowed down to just eight surfers after 30 starters from nine surfing districts around South Africa took to the waves in round one.

Semi-final 1 will feature Joshe Faulkner (Nelson Mandela Bay), Emslie, Deavan Mattheys (Bufflao City Surfriders) and Gary van Wieringin (Ugu Surfriders) with semi-final 2 comprising Bryce du Preez (Buffalo City), Craig Johnson (Cape Town Surfriders), Alan Johns (iLembe Surfriders) and Tyrell Johnson (Buffalo City Surf- riders).

In the Open Women’s division South African surfing legend Heather Clark (Ugu Surfriders) showed her true class and knowledge of Nahoon Reef alongside the young Zoe Steyn (Buffalo City Surfriders ) who will be out to defend the title she won last year. Steyn also forms part of the SA team that will be jetting out to Japan next month to compete in the Olympic Qualifier at the ISA World Surfing Games in Tokyo.

The Open Women’s semi-final 1 will see Steyn matched with Tayla de Coning (Buffalo City Surfriders) and Adriel Wolmarans (Buffalo City Surfriders) while semi-final 2 will feature Clark, Aimee du Preez (Buffalo City Surfriders) and Sophie Bell (iLembe Surfriders).

On day two of the five-day event on Thursday organisers were forced to move the event to an alternate venue, nearby Nahoon Corner, when massive three to four metre swells arrived overnight making it impossible to run the event at the fabled Nahoon Reef.

The 54th edition of the SA Surfing Championships culminates tomorrow with the running of all the finals.

* Live scoring on www.liveheats.com/surfingsouthafrica

Independent on Saturday