The Semi-Finalists in the Under 14 and U16 Boys’ and U16 Girls’ divisions were decided on an exciting opening day of surfing in the Billabong Junior Series event at Willard beach in Ballito on Wednesday.
Overcast conditions and clean one metre (hip to head high) waves that improved during the day gave the country’s top junior surfers the canvas on which to utilise their full repertoire of manoeuvres as they battled to advance to the business end of the prestigious 3A rated SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) events.
Sebastian Williams (Jeffreys Bay), the reigning Billabong Junior Series U16 boys’ champion, was one of the standout performers on the day, winning both his opening heat and his Quarter-final clash to move into the Semi-Finals.
“That heat went good. I saw the previous heats were slow but I got a decent wave in the first 5 minutes and that kind of set my tone for the rest of the heat,” said Williams. “I’m hoping to defend my title as it’s my last year in the under 16’s. I’ve been doing this division since I was under 12, but I enjoy competing a couple of divisions above my age.”
Max Elkington was seeded into the Quarter-Finals and won his opening heat to advance to the semis along with heat runner-up and fellow Kommetjie resident Eli Beukes. Elkington and Beukes will be up against Williams and Koby Oberholzer (Warner Beach) in the second Semi-Final where the top two will progress to the four-man Final.
Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay) produced her customary display of high performance surfing in the U16 girls division, moving into the semis along with runner-up and Salt Rock local Sophie Bell. Kayla Nogueira (Umhlanga) and Zoe Smith (Jeffreys Bay) won their Round 1 encounters and S'nenhlanhla Makhubu (Durban) finished second to reach her first ever U16 PST Semi Final.
The day’s action started with the U14 boys’ division in what for many were overhead waves. The three Round 1 heats were won by York van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie), Nate Spalding (Gillitts) and Mitch du Preez (East London) who advanced to the last six together with their respective runners-up.
The youngest division, the U12 boys, will get the Day 2 action underway followed by the U14 girls before the U18 boys and girls take to the surf on Day 2 of the event on Thursday.
Daily Heat results and photos are posted on www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za Click the Billabong Junior Series poster on the website to view
The finals of all the divisions will be run on Saturday when an exciting lineup of speciality awards will also be decided:
The U12, U14 and U16 divisions are Surfing South Africa 3A Pro Surf Tour events with prize-money of R2,600 for the U12’s and while the other divisions each share R4,600.
The premier U18 boys’ and girls’ divisions are internationally rated World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1000 events offering prize-purses of R20,000 and R10,000 respectively. The points earned count towards determining the Billabong Junior Series and WSL Africa overall champions.
The U18 boys have an added incentive as the top two placed surfers will be awarded wildcards into the SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong on Sunday 26 June. The winner of the all-South African trials event will land a berth in the R4 million Ballito Pro presented by Billabong.
Scheduled for Wednesday to Saturday, 22-25 June, the Billabong Junior Series is supported by KwaDukuza Municipality, VonZipper, Zigzag, BOS, Neff, and Skull Candy, Surfing South Africa and the World Surf League.