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SA’s medal challenge falls short to an end in California
- Updated: October 18, 2015
South Africa’s challenge for honours at the 2015 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in California ended on the penultimate day when team captain Shane Sykes and Sebastian Williams were eliminated in the Repercharge Rounds on Saturday.
The SA team’s hopes of clinching a medal in the Aloha Cup were also dashed when they were ousted in the semi-finals of the tag-team format event.
Starting in the Under-18 boys’ Main Event semi-finals, Sykes fell short of advancing directly to the last four when he placed third, just more than one point behind second placed Jake Marshall (USA), and dropped into the Repercharge semis.
In another agonisingly close decision, Sykes missed out on taking his campaign into the final day of the event when he again finished third and exited the world’s biggest junior surfing event in equal ninth place overall, earning 500 points towards his team’s total.
Competing at the same time on the North side of pier, SA’s U16 boys’ standout Sebastian Williams couldn’t match the scores of heat winner John Mel (USA) and runner-up Luke Wrice (AUS). Williams bowed out in equal 13th place in the division with a haul of 450 team points.
Later in the day the SA squad of Richard Kidd, Joshe Faulkner, Chanelle Botha, Ntando Msibi and Michael Monk came up against surfing powerhouses Hawaii, USA and Brazil in the first of the two Aloha Cup semi-finals.
With each team member having to ride two waves and then sprint back to the team box to ‘tag’ the next surfer, and all 10 rides having to be completed in 50 minutes, the SA team finished a distant fourth.
Brazil and USA advanced to the final where they came up against France and Japan who had finished ahead of Australia and Peru in the second semi. France went on to clinch the gold medal in the final with Japan taking silver, Brazil bronze and USA copper.
The host team from USA holds a strong lead in the chase for the coveted ISA World Junior Team Trophy with seven team members still in contention heading into the final day. France, Hawaii and Australia each have four surfers challenging for individual honours and contributing points towards their team totals while Japan, Portugal and Tahiti have two and Peru and Costa Rica have one each.
South Africa is in 10th place but can still move up into the top eight in the final standings, which will ensure that the team participates in the Aloha Cup in the 2016 ISA World Junior Champs, if the surfers from Portugal, Tahiti, Costa Rica or Peru fail to advance from their first heats on Sunday’s final day.
Picture of Sykes in action courtesy of ISA/Sean Evans