Despite being only three weeks into the new year, the 2018 surfing season has opened with a slew of competitions running in virtually every time zone under the sun.
The 2017 Jeep World Junior Championship was wrapped up in Australia on January 10 with Hawaiian standout Finn McGill and relatively unknown Polynesian islander Vahine Fierro grabbing the prestigious 18-and-under men’s and women’s titles at Kiama Beach in regrettably sub-standard surf conditions for such an important showcase of young talent.
Adin Masencamp posted the best result of the seven members in the WSL Africa squad. The 18-year-old from the Strand finished ninth overall after causing a major upset in round three when he eliminated Brazilian Mateus Herdy, one of favourites for the title.
Masencamp is again leading the charge for the Saffa brigade this week, having progressed to round three in the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying series (QS)1000 rated Carve Pro at Maroubra in Australia.
His junior team-mates, Kommetjie’s Ford van Jaarsveldt and Jake Elkington along with Joshe Faulkner of Jeffreys Bay, also advanced to the last 64.
Meanwhile the field in the only WSL rated event in the Mediterranean Ocean, the QS3000 SEAT Pro Netanya at Kontiki Beach just North of Tel Aviv in Israel, is down to the last eight after a couple of days of half to one metre waves, and a couple of lay-days that have enabled the surfers to explore the country’s tourist sites.
Matt McGillivray of J-Bay has been one of the standouts in Israel but faces a tough man-on-man duel with Jorgann Couzinet, the Reunion Island-born Frenchman who finished 2017 ranked No18 on the QS, in their quarter-final encounter when the contest resumes.
Further west, a trio of top ranked South African girls are in action in the QS6000 Ron Jon Florida Pro being held at Sebastian Inlet, one of the premier surfing centres on the USA’s east coast.
Teal Hogg of uMhlanga and the well travelled Tanika Hoffman of Cape Town posted great performances on Thursday to advance to round two, where Hogg was eliminated after placing fourth in her match-up.
Former WSL Championship Tour (CT) member Bianca Buitendag, who hails from Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape, starts her campaign to re-qualify for the top tier of women’s world surfing in round three in Florida. Ironically Buitendag will be up against South African-born Philippa Anderson, now a resident of Newcastle and representing her adopted country of Australia.
On to the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the first WSL event of the year, the QS1000 Sunset Pro, competed the first two rounds in pumping but windy 3m plus waves at Sunset Beach on Thursday. Kommetjie transplant Benji Brand, 21, who was crowned 2017 WSL Hawaii regional men’s champion in December, is the second seed at Sunset and starts in round three.
And on the other side of the Pacific, on Hainan Island in the South China Sea, the ISA World Longboard Championship was officially opened at Riyue Bay yesterday.
SA will be represented by Alfonzo Pieters and Roxy Davis of Muizenberg and Sam Christensen and Christy Gilmour of Durban among the 71 surfers from 22 nations chasing individual and team medals in the men’s and women’s events until January 28.