Surfers’ in­va­sion

200 surfers in Na­hoon Reef bat­tle for SA Surf­ing Champs hon­ours

Go! & Express - - Sport -

NA­HOON Reef is cur­rently a hive of ac­tiv­ity af­ter the ar­rival of over 200 surfers who are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz South African Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships hosted by Buf­falo City from Tues­day to Sunday (Au­gust 22 to 27). The SA Cham­pi­onships – sup­ported by the De­part­ment of Sport and Re­cre­ation SA and the Na­tional Lotteries Com­mis­sion – 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.

Na­hoon Reef has hosted nu­mer­ous South African Cham­pi­onships since the in­au­gu­ral event in 1965 and in 1978 the ISA World Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships took place at this iconic surf spot.

This year Surf­ing South Africa (SSA) cel­e­brates the 52nd edi­tion of the South African Cham­pi­onships mak­ing it one of the longestrun­ning surf­ing tour­na­ments in the world.

Mercedes-Benz and the Buf­falo City Metropoli­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (BCMM) have part­nered with SSA to not only to show­case South Africa’s surf­ing tal­ent at the an­nual na­tional cham­pi­onships, but also help the na­tional team pre­pare for surf­ing’s in­clu­sion in the 2020 Olympics in Ja­pan.

In ad­di­tion Mercedes-Benz, Buf­falo City, and SSA will high­light East Lon­don’s im­por­tance as a ma­jor South African surf­ing venue through the pre­sent­ing of the an­nual cham­pi­onships, prepa­ra­tion and support of the na­tional team, host­ing of coach­ing and judg­ing sem­i­nars and support of lo­cal out­reach pro­grammes.

The 2017 SA Cham­pi­onships will fea­ture over 160 surfers from eight districts who will be com­pet­ing for nine in­di­vid­ual South African ti­tles.

Adding pres­tige to the event, is the news that cur­rent World Big Wave Cham­pion, Grant “Twiggy” Baker will be rep­re­sent­ing eThek­weni in the over40 di­vi­sion while World Masters cham­pion and five time South African men’s cham­pion, Greg Em­slie, will be back to de­fend his ti­tle, this time at his lo­cal surf spot.

He will also be com­pet­ing in the over-40 di­vi­sion, the same group as Baker.

Chris Knut­sen of eThek­weni, a five time world cham­pion and four-time South African cham­pion, will be com­pet­ing in the over-55 di­vi­sion while for­mer World Tour cam­paigner, ISA World Masters Cham­pion and eight-time South African cham­pion Heather Clark of Ugu Surfrid­ers, will be hop­ing to add a ninth ti­tle to her list of achieve­ments.

Twenty-four cur­rent and for­mer na­tional team mem­bers are com­pet­ing while six of the nine 2016 South African cham­pi­ons are back to de­fend their ti­tles.

There are six world cham­pi­ons turn­ing out for their districts at this year’s cham­pi­onships – along with some well-known pro­vin­cial and district surf­ing stars.

Surfers rep­re­sent­ing districts from along the South African coast will con­test 11 di­vi­sions from un­der 20 to over 60 and will com­pete in a to­tal of 140 heats.

The 126 heats make up 47 hours of com­pe­ti­tion which will be com­pleted over six days of in­tense com­pe­ti­tion. In­di­vid­ual ti­tles will be at stake in

nine di­vi­sions and surfers’s scores will be al­lo­cated to their district to­tals to de­ter­mine which team will win the 45-year-old Pres­i­dents Cup and the Masters Cup. This year all the points from the open di­vi­sions and Masters di­vi­sions will be com­bined to de­ter­mine the win­ners of the in­au­gu­ral Cham­pi­ons Cup.

The 2016 Pres­i­dents Cup was won by Cape Town Surfrid­ers and at Seal Point in 2016 the Buf­falo City Surfrid­ers team se­cured their 11th Masters Cup. These events were held sep­a­rately in 2016.

To com­mem­o­rate the mem­ory of a much-loved pres­i­dent of the Buf­falo City Surfrid­ers, Surf­ing South Africa has in­tro­duced the Dave Fish Tro­phy which will be awarded to the most con­sis­tent surfer through­out the event. Fish passed away just days be­fore last year’s SA Masters Cham­pi­onships.

Heats started on Tues­day with the fi­nals of all nine di­vi­sions sched­uled to take place on Sunday.

The event sched­ule is posted on the Surf­ing South Africa web­site

www.surf­in­g­southafrica.co.za and re­sults and pho­tos are up­dated daily. The SSA In­sta­gram, Twit­ter and Face­book will be up­dated reg­u­larly dur­ing the con­test.

The event is hosted by Buf­falo City Surfrid­ers, pre­sented by Surf­ing South Africa 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) and the In­ter­na­tional Surf­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ISA).

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

SURF’S LOOK­ING UP: Five time South African Men’s Cham­pion Greg Em­slie wel­comes the best surfers in the coun­try to his home surf of Na­hoon Reef this week. This is where the 2017 Mercedes-Benz South African Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships takes place un­til Sunday

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