OPJ S. Africa, Day 1
The opening day of the Oakley Pro Junior saw some explosive surfing, with pre-contest favourites Rudy Palmboom (Bluff), Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit), Casey Grant (Scottburgh), and Oakley team rider Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) progressing to the round of 24 with relative ease.
As expected, competition in the internationally rated Grade 2A ASP Pro Junior event was tough, with the good conditions resulting in some highly competitive surfing.
The Oakley Pro Junior is a highlight of the Vodacom Easter Adrenaline Festival driven by the KZN Department of Transport. Perfect one-metre offshore barreling waves with long walls were the order of the day and provided competitors with many opportunities to boost spectacular aerials.
The 7th heat was undoubtedly the heat of the day, with Casey Grant (Scottburgh) snatching a victory in the dying seconds from fellow Scottburgh local Haydn MacNicol. Chad Schwaab (Bluff), despite launching a massive air, was relegated to third place.
Klee Strachan posted the highest combined score of the day, with an 8.67 and 8.50 off his first two waves, including an epic barrel on his first wave. Strachan was understandably upbeat after impressing the judges in "super fun waves", and is "feeling very confident" heading into the latter stages of the contest. He mentioned top seed Rudy Palmboom and Kyle Beach (Durban), who was beaten into second by Strachan in the fourth heat, as his biggest threats. Medi Veminardi (Reunion), the only international entrant, had a good showing and secured a place in the third round by narrowly winning his heat over Nic Godfrey (Cape St Francis).
Thirteen year old Mike Venter (Warner Beach), the youngest competitor in the event, has all the makings of a world class surfer. He placed a credible third in his heat, behind title contenders Matt Bromley (Cape Town) and Oakley’s Chad du Toit (Durban).
The first heat of the Red Bull Air Show Expression Session was predictably volatile. Here, surfers are rewarded for busting out the most radical maneuver and this provided the platform from which Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) and Klee Strachan flaunted some progressive surfing.
Oakley Africa’s Core Sports Manager Seth Hulley was "super stoked with a great start" to the event. Although the weather was at times overcast, organizers and surfers were pleased with the size and consistency of the waves, which no doubt contributed to what Hulley describes as "a high standard of surfing".
For LIVE scoring, news, photos and video, check out oakleyprojunior.com.
The Oakley Pro Junior is one of the principal events of the Vodacom Easter Adrenaline Festival; the festival also showcases daredevil sports such as freestyle motocross, Jet Ski demos and motorbike stunts. Last year, over 240,000 people flocked to Durban’s beaches for Vodacom Easter Adrenaline powered, and with the improved itinerary for this year’s festival, numbers are expected to increase.