Young EL surfers make a splash

Team now hopes to im­prove on ef­fort next year and take top spot

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - ROSS ROCHE rossr@dis­

Buf­falo City ju­nior surfrid­ers were in top form when they took part in the 2018 Sea Har­vest SA Ju­nior Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships in Jef­frey's Bay re­cently.

In a great over­all show­ing, the ju­niors put in their best per­for­mance at the champs since they fin­ished as run­ners-up in 2003, this time end­ing third be­hind cham­pi­ons Cape Town Surfrid­ers and sec­ond-placed eThek­weni Surfrid­ers. The top two were ex­tremely close, with CT Surfrid­ers end­ing on 45375 points and eThek­weni on 45140, while Buf­falo City came in on 42965 in third, well ahead of the fourth-placed hosts Nel­son Man­dela Bay Surfrid­ers who fin­ished on 38066 points.

“It was a very good per­for­mance. Just a few things that didn't go our way, some tight calls which made quite a dif­fer­ence in where we fin­ished,” said Buf­falo City Surfrid­ers team man­ager Kevin O' Brien.

“It was a great per­for­mance and it is a young team with many of the surfers still in the same age groups for next year.”

On the in­di­vid­ual front, the Buf­falo team emerged with two SA cham­pi­ons.

The ever im­press­ing Zoe Steyn went in as favourite and duly claimed the U16 ti­tle, adding an­other piece of sil­ver­ware to her ever-grow­ing tro­phy case.

She had al­ready be­come the youngest ever women's win­ner of the SA surf­ing cham­pi­onships in Au­gust and fol­lowed that up by be­com­ing the youngest ever women to rep­re­sent a South African se­nior sports team when she took part in the UR ISA World Surf­ing Games in Ta­hara, Ja­pan, in Septem­ber and more will be ex­pected of this con­stantly ris­ing tal­ent.

The other Buf­falo City SA champ came from an­other young ris­ing tal­ent, Aimee du Preez, who en­joyed a fan­tas­tic con­test and sealed it with a win in the U14 girls’ divi­sion.

“Zoe and Aimee are both stand-outs in their age divi­sion. Zoe will be in the U16 divi­sion again next year while Aimee is one of the few who will be mov­ing up,” said O'Brien.

A num­ber of other Buf­falo City surfers City en­joyed top plac­ings as well to fin­ish on the podium.

Adriel Wol­marans fin­ished sec­ond to Du Preez in the U14 divi­sion that was dom­i­nated by the Buf­falo City Surfers.

In the U16 boys divi­sion, Mitch du Preez was in top form but just missed out on first place which went to Tide Lee Ire­land from eThek­weni. Du Preez had to set­tle for sec­ond.

An­other up-and-com­ing Buf­falo City tal­ent is young Daniel Em­slie, who im­pressed in the SA Champs in Au­gust. He took that mo­men­tum into the ju­nior champs and although un­able to take the win in the U14 divi­sion, he did fin­ish run­ner-up and was named male Surfer of the con­test.

In the U18 girls’ divi­sion Buf­falo City's Tayla de Con­ing man­aged a third place fin­ish, while Josh Mal­herbe took third in the U12 boys’ divi­sion and Joel Fowles just missed out on the podium by fin­ish­ing fourth in the same divi­sion.

Af­ter such an impressive show­ing the team will now hope to im­prove on that ef­fort next year and take top spot.

“We are al­ready start­ing to put train­ing in place for next year’s champs and we are hop­ing to give it a big push to fin­ish [on] top,” said O'Brien.

“Dave Mal­herbe is the team’s coach and plays a very im­por­tant role. He gives a lot of ad­vice to the surfers be­fore they go out and that has a big im­pact.

“Hav­ing a good coach is im­por­tant and we are lucky here in East Lon­don to have some of the best coaches in the coun­try.”

Pic­ture: Allen Har­ris

AWE­SOME FOUR­SOME: Buf­falo City ju­nior surfrid­ers Zoe Steyn, Tayla de Con­ing, Mitch du Preez and Bryce du Preez re­ceived SA na­tional surf­ing colours at the open­ing of the 2018 SA Ju­nior Champs in Jef­fery’s Bay.

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