WHILE looking out for how South Africans were doing in the WSL events in Huntington Beach this week, I struggled to work out which event was which.
Three competitions are running concurrently at the famous Californian break, and they all have the same name, with small additions for the junior (Jr) and qualifying series (QS).
What caught my eye was the headline act – the Vans US Open of Surfing. Scratching my head, I went to the World Surf League website to see if they had suddenly added another men’s Championship Tour (CT) event to the 11 that are scheduled this year.
Nope. They hadn’t. The Vans US Open of Surfing was referring to the 6th event on the women’s Tour. The WSL has dropped the qualifying phrase for gender because there is no men’s CT event at Huntington.
This naming convention is inherently problematic. If you’re going to call a surf contest the Wild Coast Pro, then you’re suggesting this is the main event, and the Wild Coast Pro “Women” is the add-on – the secondary event.
But, I have noticed a bid by the WSL to afford women and men equal media coverage, and apparently the 34 men and 12 women get the same bucks for entering an event. It’s around US$16 000 I think.
Press releases often come with news and results of the men, women and juniors together. The Wiredrive link to all the latest photographs also come with no particular gender order, and are not separated (when men and women are surfing in their respective events concurrently).
Back at the (California) ranch, so to speak, we complete the trio of events with the “Vans US Open of Surfing – Men’s Jr” and “Vans US Open of Surfing – Men’s QS”.
And the Vans US Open of Surfing is down to the semi-finals after the quarters were held on Thursday in nice, solid 3-5’ surf (for a change). Hawaiians and Americans dominate the semi-finals, with Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA) and Courtney Conlogue (USA) through.
The men’s sixth stop on their Tour was the Corona Open J-Bay last month. Their seventh starts in six days: the Billabong Teahupo’o Pro in Tahiti.
In terms of reasons for my original research, Vic Bay’s Bianca Buitendag (wild card) lost to Conlogue in Round 2 of the main event, and out of the 64 who started the junior men’s event, none were South African.
South Africans fared a lot better in the QS iteration, although Matt McGillivray was knocked out in Round 1. Beyrick de Vries made it to Round 3 before dropping out.
However, Capetonian Mikey February continues to fly the South African flag high after blasting his way into Round 4 after a near-perfect 9.17 in Round 2 to complete the highest heat score of the QS event so far.
His place in Round 4 (the last 24 of the event), will guarantee him points but he will be hoping to go further to further his 4th place on the QS rank- ings and a possible, if not probable, spot on the CT next year. Hawaiian Kai Lenny won the 2017 Puerto Escondido Challenge in gnarly 20-25 foot surf this week. Unfortunately reigning event and world champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker was knocked out in Round 1 but has two events to make up for his slow start in the first event of the 2017 WSL Big Wave Tour. The majority of the national team for the 6th ISA World Stand-up Paddleboard Championships in Denmark (31 August to 10 September) are from WP. SUP Surfing members – Dylan Frick, Gary Van Rooyen, Tamsyn Foster and Khara Doyle – all hail from Cape Town. Frick will also compete in SUP Racing, with Chris Couve (Gauteng). Team Captain is Jacqueline De Billot and Rolande Williamson (both KZN). Candice Murray and Kit Beaton (both WP) will compete in Prone Paddleboard racing. Team Manager is Jarryd Doyle (WP) and the team Coach is Shayne Chips (KZN). The SA Adaptive National Surfing Championships take place in Muizenberg today. Come down and support this event, which will see a team selected to compete in the world champs in California at the end of November. Early today should see cranking leftover 10-12 foot surf thundering at deep-water reefs in a clean SE offshore. Muizenberg looks crumbly 2-3’ in moderate SE. The swell eases gradually as the wind eases and goes moderate southerly. Tomorrow, the surf looks much smaller 4’ in light SW to S breezes. Muizenberg looks 2’ at dawn, going light onshore.
TWIGGY OUT: Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker tries to negotiate a warping barrel in the Puerto Escondido Challenge this week. He didn’t make it.