South Africans Reign Again
In a historic repeat of the corresponding Sunday in 2006 when South African surfers won international titles in Japan and England, the country’s surf stars claimed victories in Bali and Spain and a top four finish in Japan yesterday to firmly re-establish SA’s credentials as a major surfing power.
First David Weare (Durban) charged into third place in the 6 Star rated, R825 000 Yumeya Billabong Pro Tahara before 16 year-old Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) captured the Under 17 title in the Billabong Bali ‘Occy’ Grom Comp and was runner-up in the U20 Billabong Pro Junior Series in Bali and then Josch Schmeltzer (Westville) won the Island Style Pro Junior in Spain.
Weare, the winner of the Rip Curl Boardmasters title in Newquay, England, last year, rocketed himself back into contention for a return to the elite Foster’s ASP World Tour in 2008, defeating a slew of the world’s best surfers before his progress was halted in the semi-finals in Japan by eventual winner, World Tour rookie Gabe Kling (Florida, USA).
Ousting defending event champion and compatriot Royden Bryson (East London) in the round of 16, Weare went on to earn R31 000 and more importantly, 1 875 invaluable ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings points which saw him leapfrog from 31st to 13th on the WQS rankings.
He now joins Jordy Smith (Durban), who placed equal 25th in Japan to slip from second to third on the WQS leaderboard, amongst the top 15 who automatically qualify for the top level tour at yearend. Bryson’s fifth place in the US Open in California last week and ninth place in Japan have seen him move from 60th to 37th in the space of two weeks.
Joubert, the reigning Billabong Junior Series U16 champion, elected to miss the fourth of five stops on SA’s premier surf junior surf circuit at Victoria Bay next weekend when he was invited by his sponsors to compete in the Billabong events in Bali and then go on a 10 day surf trip to Sumbawa Island with fellow rising stars Dean Bowen, Nick Vasicek (both Australia) and New Zealand’s Matt Hewitt.
The Southern Cape schoolboy who already has a pair of third place finishes in international events in Brazil and France on an impressive resume, utilised his trademark high risk aerial manoeuvres to post an 18.17 out of 20 point heat total, that included a near perfect 9.67 point ride, to easily win the U17 Grom Comp title.
After defeating Bowen, the 2006 international Quiksilver King of the Groms, in the semis of the U20 event, and competing in his fifth heat of the day, Joubert could not match current Australian Pro Junior No.2 Heath Joske in the final held in excellent 1.5 metre (4 foot) waves at Canggu on Bali
“I’m happy with my win in the Occy Grom Comp,” said Joubert. “It would have been good to take the pro-junior as well but Heath out surfed me. He was just too good.”
Meanwhile Schmeltzer, competing on a German passport in the internationally rated Island Style Pro Junior at Sopelana in the Basque region of Spain, defeated the cream of Europe’s U20 surfers in the final held in disorganised 1.3 to 1.6 metre (4-5 foot) waves.
The powerfully built KwaZulu-Natalian came into the event unseeded and squeaked through his trials heat in second place before posting heat victories in the first two rounds. Three successive second places, including the semifinal, were crowned by victory over Nicolas Von Rupp (GER), Tim Stevenson (AUS) and Jean Sebastien Estienne (GLP) in the final where Schmeltzer earned the heat’s highest score of 8.83 for his top ride.