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Internationals dominate Durban’s SA Open of Surfing

Brazil’s Mateus Herdy and Zoe McDougall of Hawaii claimed the junior men’s and women’s titles respectively at the inaugural Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley in Durban, and became the first to lift the prestigious John Whitmore Cup on Friday.

International surfers dominated throughout the day’s action, held in waist to shoulder high waves at Dairy Beach. After completing Round 1 of the QS1,000 women’s event, organisers chose to run the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals in the JQS1,000 rated events so the 18-and-under surfers could be crowned on Youth Day in South Africa.

Herdy, 16, was elated to clinch his first World Surf League (WSL) title, particularly as no junior events have been run in his home region of South America this year, and also because the runner-up, Lucas Vicente, is one of his best friends.

‘Ah, I’m so happy. It’s been a long time since I last won something, since I turned pro so I’m so happy,’ said an elated Herdy. ‘The beginning of the final was quite slow and then Lucas got one of the best waves so I was kind of nervous. My coach told me before the heat that I should wait for the good waves, so I moved over to where Lucas was and the next wave that came was the highest score that I got.’

‘It is so amazing to have won the final with Lucas in second, we have been competing together since we were babies. I know him so well, we are from the same beach, so I’m happy for him and so stoked I got the win.’

The Brazilian pair finished ahead of locals Ford van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie) and Adin Masencamp (Strand), who struggled to find waves with scoring potential in the final and missed the  opportunity to make up ground on current WSL Africa junior men’s ranking leader Jake Elkington (Kommetjie), who was eliminated in the quarters.

McDougall was in a class of her own throughout the junior women’s event, throwing away an 8.50 as she totalled 18.67 out of 20 while winning her quarter-final, comfortably easing through her semi and then getting really busy early in the final to lock in a heat-winning two-wave tally on her first two waves.

‘The.waves aren’t the best, but it’s always great to be back in Durban. I feel pretty comfortable here after winning the Corona Durban Pro, so yeah I’m just happy to be back,’ said McDougall. ‘South Africa is like my second home, and I’ll be going to Cape Town now and coming back to the Ballito Pro.’

‘I’m looking forward to competing here tomorrow again in the women’s division. I’m just happy to be somewhere warmer than J-Bay and Cape Town. At least I can be in a bikini and spend time in the sun.’

Australia’s Pacha Luque-Light was ecstatic to reach the final in her first event in South Africa and finish ahead of fellow Australian Sophia Fulton, the winner of the recent women’s event on the West Coast, and fourth-placed Kayla Nogueria (uMhlanga), who won the Durban Pro at Dairy Beach in April.

All four finalists safely negotiated their opening round encounters in the QS1,000 women’s event and will restart their respective challenges for the title and valuable QS ranking points in the quarter-finals. The Volkswagen SA Open Womens’ Champion will be crowned on Saturday afternoon.

The QS3,000 men’s event also reignites on Saturday, with the last 64 doing battle for a share of the US $75,000 (about R975,000) prize purse and the 3,000 points awarded to the winner.

Each of the winners will have their names etched for posterity on the John Whitmore Cup, a floating trophy named after the late ‘doyen’ of South African surfing, and the first person in the country claimed to own a VW kombi.

An outreach programme will be conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) on Sunday. The initiative will involve 24 surfers from Trafalgar on the KZN South Coast who recently lost all their equipment when their storage hut was set alight by arsonists.

These surfers will be joined by surfers from the Sisonke Surf Club in a Tag Team contest. Eight teams will surf in two semis and a final. The top four teams will be awarded gold, silver, bronze and copper medals.

Pics of Herdy and McDougall courtesy of WSL/Thurtell


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