OPJ Easter Sunday Finals
Oakley team rider Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) overcame a strong challenge by Nic Godfrey (Cape St Francis) to snatch victory in good, clean, one-metre offshore waves at the internationally rated ASP Grade 2 Oakley Pro Junior at Durban’s New Pier. The inaugural junior surfing event was a highlight of the Vodacom Easter Adrenaline festival driven by the KZN Department of Transport which runs until Monday, March 24 on the Durban beachfront.
Joubert showed patience during the final by waiting 10-minutes before his first ride. This paid off as he scored an 8.5 with some vertical turns off a good quality outside set wave. Joubert consolidated his lead with a 6.17, leaving Godfrey with the tall order of scoring a near perfect 9.67 to take the lead and the title. Unfortunately for Godfrey, with time running out, he was unable to find a suitable wave, and so lost out to a deserving Joubert. As winner of the event, Joubert takes home US$2500, while Godfrey pockets a tidy $1100 for his second place. Both surfers qualify for the final championship event of the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge to be held in Bali later this year.
Joubert was understandably ecstatic, saying winning was “the best feeling ever”. He also rated the boat trip to Bali, with the chance to compete with some of the world’s best junior surfers, as a great opportunity. He thanked his sponsors, and Oakley in particular, for all the effort that they put into this contest. Seth Hulley, Oakley Africa’s Core Sports Manager, got a special mention for all the assistance he has given Joubert in furthering his surfing career. Hulley was “super stoked with the event” and says that, as sponsors of the contest, they “couldn’t have asked for more” with one of their riders winning the main event. According to Hulley, the “great waves and great weather” made the Oakley Pro Junior’s South African debut a huge success, setting an impressive precedent for future Oakley events both locally and internationally.
The Oakley Pro Junior, as part of the Vodacom Easter Adrenaline Festival driven by the KwaZulu Natal Department of Transport, benefited significantly from the great weather. With clear blue skies and a light offshore breeze, an estimated 200,000 people flocked to Durban’s beachfront promenade to enjoy the festivities. With other extreme sports such as freestyle motocross and jet skiing on show, the action over the weekend has been nonstop.
The Red Bull Air Show Surfing Expression Session was surfed as a prelude to the final of the Oakley contest, with contestants taking advantage of the left and right breaking waves on offer. The rising tide again resulted in improved conditions, and Rudy Palmboom (Bluff) was the first to take some initiative with a massive backhand air reverse. Soon after, Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga), Chris Leppan (Umhlanga) and Hayden MacNicol (Scottburgh) also put themselves in contention for the most radical aerial maneuver prize. Chad du Toit, after busting two airs on one wave, took an early lead in the race for the best overall performance of the Air Show, although Jaco Steyn (Melkbos Strand) also had some consistently strong rides. Ultimately, it was Rudy Palmboom who prevailed with the most radical aerial manoeuvre, while Jaco Steyn was confirmed as the best overall performer. Both surfers won R2500 for their efforts. Medi Veminardi (Reunion) won the ZigZag Blowing Up Award, and R1000, for consistently going as large as possible.
The first quarter-final was an explosive affair, with Oakley team riders Shaun Joubert and Chad du Toit (Durban) going head to head in a high scoring and aggressive heat. Du Toit had a great start, opening his account with an 8.0. Joubert, however, fought back with the highest scoring wave of the event, a 9.0. Du Toit, needing an 8.01 off his final wave to clinch a spot in the semi’s, was caught frustratingly short with a 7.93. Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit) and Mike February (Kommetjie) faced off in another of the quarter-finals. Strachan reaped the benefits of his decision to surf mostly inside waves, leaving February stranded on the outside needing a big score with no waves in sight. Other surfers advancing to the semi-final stage were Hayden MacNicol and Nic Godfrey.
Strachan and Joubert, the two consistent standout surfers of the event, were unlucky to be matched up in the first semi-final. They traded big scores for most of the heat, and with the clock running down Strachan was in need of a 7.83 to regain the lead. He only managed a 7.50, and after looking so good for most of the contest, claimed an equal third. Hayden MacNicol and Nic Godfrey contested the second semi-final which, although not as explosive as the first, was just as close. Godfrey managed to sneak the win and advance to the final, with a heat total of 14.17 out of a possible 20.
For photos, video and profiles, check out: