Excellent Waves for Day One of Oakley Pro Junior Port Alfred
Excellent waves funneling off the Kowie river mouth greeted contestants today for the opening day of the Oakley Pro Junior, the World Pro Junior Grade 2 event, taking place at East Beach in Port Alfred, South Africa this weekend. The best junior surfers in the country paddled out into the perfect surf for their heats, determined to win and secure a share of the US$12,500 prize pool on offer. The high performance waves that were pouring through were conducive to some mind-blowing surfing, and the judges had their work cut out for them in determining the winners.
The opening function on the night of Thursday 29 saw the juniors and their families, as well as contest officials and Oakley representatives gathering at the same time as the finals of the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina was going down in Brazil. Everyone was able to witness the live webcast. Oakley-sponsored surfer, 20-year-old rookie and underdog Brazilian Jadson Andre beat contest favorite and 9-times world champion Kelly Slater in the final, and instantly the mood was set for the event – anyone can win if they put their heart into it.
The expedition crew from the Coast 2 Coast 4 CANSA, who are currently on their 2800 km jet ski journey to raise awareness about early cancer detection while fundraising for CANSA, were also present and Oakley Team Member Jason Ribbink spoke about the CANSA jet ski mission, and what his hopes and goals were for the project.
In the water today, Bianca Buitendag was showing the form that has seen her on the winners podium recently, bashing some big fins-free turns on her backhand in the four to five-foot surf that was reeling along the sand bank. Bianca has been groomed on the mechanical rights of Victoria Bay and the clean surf of Port Alfred was right to her liking.
Chad du Toit was another surfer who was blitzing, picking up two great rides to win his heat in the round of 32. “The waves are really fun out there,” said Chad on the beach after his heat. “You have to try and find the right ones that link up on the inside, but there are some great sections where you can really crack it.” Chad did just that, paddling into one clean wave and settling into a rhythm where he did five radical turns off the top in a row, to be rewarded a 7.25 out of a possible 10 points by the judges. “I’ve got a really good board at the moment,” said Chad of his equipment. “This board is over a year old, but it still goes so well, especially in waves like this.”
South African-born and Australian resident Thomas Woods also had a field day amongst the fast right-handers, getting some excellent scores under the belt as confidence boosting material for tomorrow’s competition. Not to be outdone, defending champion Shaun Joubert from Mossel Bay didn’t hold back, showing why he is one of the most highly-rated junior surfers in the country at the moment. Shaun has shown good form in the early part of this year already, with a few big wins under his belt. His surfing performance today at the Oakley Pro Junior, with full-rail carves combined with some huge turns, was a clear statement that he is determined for another victory.
Oakley South Africa team manager Greg Emslie was happy with the day of surfing that took place. “We had good surf today, so all the competitors were stoked with that,” said Greg. “It looks great for tomorrow as well, so we’re bound to see some more high performance surfing, as these waves really push everyone’s surfing performances.”
The Red Bull Air Show heats took place during the day as well, and the Red Bull Air Show final tomorrow promises to be an action-packed affair with a massive R10,000 winner-takes-all prize that will see the best junior aerial surfers going all out for that one big air.
Surfers will meet at 7 am tomorrow local time for an early start in the forecasted good waves.