Surf’s up for Team SA

2010-10-21 10:07

PERU – Team South Africa completed a confidence-building clean sweep on the first day of the Billabong International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Peru yesterday, winning all six of the heats they contested in the “Olympics” of surfing which features national teams from 31 nations and over 200 competitors.

After the colourful Parade of Nations and the moving Sands of the World ceremonies were staged on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in downtown Lima, the challenge for the gold medals in men and women’s, longboard, tag team and the overall team trophy got under way under grey skies and inconsistent two-metre waves at the two venues of Senoritas and Caballeros in Punta Hermosa.

The opening round of both the men and women were completed yesterday with the seeding matching the South African team members up against surfers from Ecuador, Guatemala, Uruguay and the UK.

Warwick Wright was the first South African surfer to take to the surf and the 2002 ISA world junior champion set the standard by posting the first double-digit heat total of the event, scoring 12.0 points out of a possible 20 in winning heat four.

Chad du Toit (13.06) and Casey Grant (12.27) also recorded comfortable victories in their respective encounters before team captain Greg Emslie delivered 13.67 points in heat 32, the last of the day, to join his compatriots in round two of the qualifying stream in the double elimination format used at the event.

In the women’s division, Chantelle Rautenbach’s 14.60 point total was too good for her opponents from Ecuador and the UK to match while Stacey Guy triumphed in her wave-starved, low-scoring heat to stay on track for higher honours.

The rest of the top five surfing nations suffered mixed results with the powerful Australian team, which boasts five current or former world tour surfers, losing one of their members to the repecharge rounds, as did France.

USA, the defending ISA team champions, brought a young squad to the event but won all six of their clashes while Brazil saw two of their team dropping into the repecharges.

Of the smaller nations, hosts Peru along with Costa Rica and New Zealand kept all their competitors in the qualifying stream with a mixture of first and second placed heat results. The teams from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela performed well and surfers from the UK, Spain, Portugal and Argentina posted heat victories.

The tournament continues until Wednesday, and today’s schedule sees second-round qualifying for women and men in the left-breaking waves at Senoritas while round one of the longboarding, featuring SA’s two-time world champion Matthew Moir and Brad Weare, takes place in the rights at Caballeros after the women’s repecharge round one.

Surfline, the official surf forecasters for the event, predict massive triple overhead (three to five-metre faces) today and tomorrow, dropping slowly to two to four metres over the weekend before a new swell kicks in next week.

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