The Cool Shoe South African Surfing Championships got underway in overcast and rainy weather but great one metre waves at New Pier in Durban today (Thursday) with 96 surfers representing eight provincial teams chasing individual and team glory in the 48th edition of the country’s premier national surfing event.
The 2012 SA champions in the four divisions all started the defense of their respective titles by safely progressing directly to Round 3 with Casey Grant (Southern KZN) in the Men’s, Nikita Robb (Border) in the Women’s and Mikey February (Western Province) in the U20 Boys winning their opening encounters while Heidi Palmboom (KZN Central) finished second in her first match-up.
Western Province, who won the team title in their home surf of Cape Town last year, had a steady start in their bid to win the retain the coveted President’s Cup with three of their 12-person team needing to contest Round 2 heats tomorrow after finishing third in Round 1. Host province KZN Central are determined to wrest the Cup away from their arch-rivals and only have one surfer in Round 2.
The Men’s division saw former multiple SA champ and current ISA World Masters champion Greg Emslie win his heat along with fellow Border surfer Wayne Monk, KZN Central’s Matt Kruger, Daniel Redman and Brandon Jackson, Mike Frew (Zululand) and Matthew Bromley (WP).
Nikita Robb was joined in Round 3 of the Women’s division by heat winners Tarryn Chudleigh and Tanika Hoffman from Western Province and the Queen of SA women’s surfing, Heather ‘Fergie’ Clark from Southern KZN.
Western Province’s Max Armstrong and Brandon Benjamin matched teammate Mikey February’s winning start in the U20 Boys category along with Dylan Lightfoot and Steven Sawyer from Eastern Province, David van Zyl and Mikey Venter from KZN Central and Jeandre Blignaut from Boland.
Emma and Gina Smith from Eastern Province, Chanelle Botha (SKZN) and Roxy Giles from Southern Cape were the heat winners in Round 1 of the U20 Girls.
Friday’s action at the Cool Shoe SA Surfing champs will see Round 2 of the Men’s, Women’s, U20 Boy’s and U20 Girl’s divisions completed, followed by Round 3 of the Women and U20 Girls.
The afternoon programme features the Prime Trials, sanctioned by ASP Africa, where 11 of the country’s top emerging talents will battle for two spots in the 96-man field for the US $250 000, ASP Prime rated Mr Price Pro Ballito event that will be contested from 1-7 July at Willard’s Beach in Ballito.
The Cool Shoe SA Surfing Championships runs until Sunday 30 June when the champions in all four individual divisions and the team champions will be crowned at an awards ceremony on the beach around 12 noon.
All the results and the schedule for each day of the event can be found at www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za.