Surfers and officials from all corners of South Africa will gather in East London this week for 2019 Mercedes–Benz South African Surfing Championships, hosted by Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, writes Mark Hoffman.
The 54th edition of this annual surfing tournament will officially get under way at with an Opening Function at the East London Golf Club on Tuesday August 20 from 6.30pm.
The function will see surfers, officials, guests and VIPs enjoying a social occasion before competition gets under way in earnest at Nahoon Reef on Wednesday August 21. The Championships end with the presentation of all nine division Finals on Sunday August 25.
The Mercedes–Benz SA Championships hosted by Buffalo City is the premier event on the Surfing South Africa calendar and features surfers in the Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions as well seven other age groups ranging from Over 30 to Over 60.
Over the 54 years that organised surf contests have taken place in South Africa the powerful right handed waves that occur at Nahoon Reef have been the venue for numerous iconic South African Surfing Championships.
Not only has Nahoon Reef hosted a number of National tournaments but it also takes its place in history as the host of the 1978 ISA World Surfing Championship.
East London is one of only two South African cities to host a World Surfing Championships since the first World Championship was held in the USA in the mid – sixties.
The annual South African Championships is one of the longest running surfing tournaments in the World and Buffalo City has hosted more National Championships than any other in South Africa.
This is the third year in a row that Mercedes–Benz and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality have partnered with Surfing South Africa to showcase South Africa’s surfing talent, crown nine new South African Champions and determine which team will win the coveted Presidents Cup, the Masters Cup and the Champions Trophy.
The support of these two iconic brands extends to the National Surfing Team which travels to the ISA World Surfing Games in Japan on September 2 in an attempt to qualify South African surfers for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
The partnership between Surfing South Africa, Mercedes–Benz and Buffalo City, is aimed at highlighting East London’s importance as a major South African surfing venue through the presenting of the annual championships and other important initiatives.
This year over 120 surfers from six Districts and three provinces will be competing for individual South African titles, traditional trophies and medals. A group of surfers from the Surfing South Africa Rising Stars programme will also get to compete in the Championships.
Leading the charge for gold medals is former World Championship Tour surfer, ISA World Masters Champion, five time South African Men’s Champion and defending Over 40 Division Champion, Greg Emslie. Emslie will also be competing in the premier Men’s Division in a bid to add a sixth title to the five that already make him one of the greatest South African surfers in history.
Another former World Tour campaigner, ISA World Masters Champion, eight time South African Open Women’s Champion and defending Over 30 Women’s gold medallist Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders,will be hoping to add at a ninth Open Women’s title and successfully defend her Over 30 title next week.
Twenty current and former National Team members are competing this year while seven of the nine 2018 South African Champions will be defending their titles this year.
Adding to the prestigious field will be the presence of six former World Champions who will be coming up against a number of talented surfing stars such defending Open Women’s Champion Zoe Steyn. Fifteen year old Steyn, a Buffalo City local and member of the 2018 and 2019 South African teams, became the youngest female surfer in history to win the title at Nahoon Reef last year.
Other talented young surfers who will be keen to show their skills in the daunting Nakhon Reef right handers are Joshe Faulkner (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bryce and Mitch du Preez and Tayla de Coning (all Buffalo City), Kayla Nogueira (eThekweni), Sophie Bell ( Ilembe), Simo Mkhize (Ugu), Paul Sampson (Cape Town) and Ntando Msibi (Rising Stars).
Other surfers who have great pedigree’s are Wayne Monk, Gareth Sepp, Andre and David Malherbe, Nick Pike and Tyrell Johnson (all Buffalo City), Gary Van Wieringen and Justin Maisch (both Ugu), Andrew Banks (Ilembe), Sean Jerram ( Cape Town), Rob Moore-Boyle (eThekweni) as well as Warwick Heny, Michelle Van Kempen,Trevor Hansen and Andre Venter (all Nelson Mandela Bay).
The oldest surfers in the Championships are Gordon Harmer (Buffalo City),Warren Wareing (Ugu), Bruce Anderson ( Cape Town) and David Lipschitz ( Nelson Mandela Bay).
Surfers at this year’s Championships will compete in a total of 90 heats which will take over 30 hours to complete. Each surfer will accrue points which will be allocated to their Team totals to determine which District will win the 46 year old Presidents Cup which involves the Open Men and Women surfers.The Masters Cup, which is competed for by the surfers in the Over 30 to Over 60 Divisions, will be awarded to the team that accrues the highest points across these division and the Champions Trophy will go to the team with the most points overall. In 2018 all three trophies were won by the event hosts, Buffalo City Surfriders.
Last year, the Dave Fish Trophy, which is awarded to the most consistent surfer throughout the event, went to Heather Clark and Zoe Steyn was named Surfer of the Contest.
All the heats as are posted on www.liveheats.com/surfingsouthafrica
Once logged into www.liveheats.com/surfingsouthafrica anyone with a smart phone, laptop or PC will be able to view real time scores in every heat through each round.
Daily results and photos will be posted on www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za and on SA Facebook page.
The 2018 Mercedes–Benz South African Surfing Championships are hosted by Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and supported by Sport and Recreation SA.
The event is presented by Surfing South Africa in association with the Buffalo City Surfriders and produced by Accelerate Marketing. Surfing South Africa is the governing body for the sport in South Africa and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the African Surfing Confederation (ASC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).
Source: Surfing South Africa