Giant surf forces early end to Day 3 of Billabong Junior Series at Victoria Bay
Huge 10 foot high waves closed out right across Victoria Bay in Southern South Africa forcing an early end to Day 3 of the Billabong Junior Series early on Saturday. The day’s action started in clean 6 foot surf with the Round of 32 in the Pro Juniors, where the top 16 seeds made their first appearance in the event against the 16 who qualified from the earlier rounds.
Top seeds Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit) and Nick Godfrey (Cape St Francis) fully justified their elevated status with comfortable heat victories that left their opponents fighting for second place and a berth in the quarterfinals.
Reigning U16 series champion Michael February (Kommetjie) secured a well deserved victory over Casey Grant (Scottburgh) as both progressed, as did sixth seed Kyle Lane (Umhlanga) and Mark Shepperson from nearby Umdloti who swapped the lead throughout their encounter with Lane ultimately emerging triumphant.
Others who conquered the powerful conditions included Chad du Toit (Berea, Durban), third seed Brendon Gibbens (Kommetjie), Justin Grey (Port Elizabeth) and Kyle Beach (Queensburgh), all of whom won their heats.
The U16 Round of 16 was next up and with the swell rising fast, competitors were battling to find two rideable waves during their heats. Dane Staples (St Francis Bay) was the exception, employing consummate wave selection to cruise to victory in heat No. 2.
Top seed and current U16 series ratings leader Beyrick de Vries secured his heat win with counting rides of 7.25 points plus 1.0. Second seed and fellow Umhlanga surfer Devin Lane won his opening encounter with Brendon Fijac clinching second place with 1.1 and a 1.0 point scores.
In the seventh of the eight heats in the round, Michael February won with 7.0 points and runner-up Kane Bennewith totaled 2.5 as the bay was filled with churned up whitewater. The final heat saw all four competitors trying to catch smaller waves in the shore-break where JC Susan won with a heat tally of 5.25.
Contest director Cyril Nell then gave the Pro Juniors the option of starting their man-on-man quarterfinals or holding them over to Sunday and the consensus was to put the event on hold soon after 1pm.
As the offshore wind increased in strength and the swell got larger, many of the competitors and officials immediately paddled out to try and ride some of the giant waves without the time constraints of competition.
See www.billabong.com/za for all the results, news and images of the action from today and the previous two days. The recently launched webpage also features athlete profiles, a photo gallery from previous events, local and international video footage, competitions and much more.
The swell is predicted to peak around 5pm today and to drop significantly by Sunday when all the divisions will be completed along with the spectacular Von Zipper Air Show.
The Billabong Junior Series is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport. Ratings points earned in each series event also count towards the annual SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) rankings. The series is proudly supported by First National Bank, Palmers, Kustom and Von Zipper.