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Benjamin and Brand crowned national champions

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An overwhelmed Brandon Benjamin of Cape Town Surfriders became the 52nd South African men’s champion at Nahoon Reef in East London on Sunday, when he beat defending champion and five-time SA champion Greg Emslie of Buffalo City Surfriders in four-five foot surf at the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SA Surfing Championships hosted by Buffalo City Municipality.

Earlier this year, the 20-year-old from Steenberg represented South Africa at the ISA World Surfing Games in France where Emslie was the Team Coach.

His incredible victory by a mere one point was greeted with joy by the members of the SWOT Surf Club, his Cape Town Surfriders teammates, and by the crowd at the awards ceremony.

Benjamin, who has come through Surfing South Africa’s programmes, is one of the youngest surfers to win the coveted South African Open Men’s title. Nineteen-year-old Cody Coetsee of Ugu Surfriders was third, and Chris Frolich of eThekweni Surfriders came fourth in the final.

 

Newly-crowned SA women’s champion, Olivia Brand of eThekweni Surfriders, was another young surfer to upset the odds when she beat eight-time SA champion Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders. Brand has not been competing regularly of late, and her come back at this significant event should help her change her mind.

She dominated the final, beating Clark by over five points. Danica Stockigt of Buffalo City Surfriders was third, and Maya Shefer-Boswell of Cape Town Surfriders took fourth place.

In the Over 35 Men’s Division, Tyrell Johnson of Buffalo City Surfriders celebrated his birthday in style with a good win over defending champion Llewellyn Whittaker of Eden. Tyrell’s brother, Orrin, was third and Etienne Potgieter of Nelson Mandela Bay came fourth.

The Over 30 SA Women’s title was won by Heather Clark, with Michelle van Kempen of Nelson Mandela Bay second and 2016 champion Lynne Mackey of eThekweni Surfriders third. Tasha Mentasti of Eden came fourth. Clark’s overall performance during the six day event earned her the Surfer of the Contest Award.

Greg Emslie won the Over 40 South African title, beating Buffalo City teammate Tristan Johnson into second spot. Justin Maisch of Ugu Surfriders was third and Warwick Heny of Nelson Mandela Bay came fourth.

Emslie’s consistent surfing throughout the championships saw him become the inaugural recipient of the Dave Fish Trophy. This Trophy was introduced at this year’s SA Championships in memory of former SSA Board Member and Buffalo City Surfriders President, Dave Fish, who passed away suddenly last year.

In a show of brilliant surfing that resulted in the first 10-point ride of the event, Wayne Monk of Buffalo City added the Over 45 Division South African title to the many national titles he has won since winning the SA Championships at Nahoon Reef for the first time in 1989. Monk beat defending champion Carl Roux of Ugu Surfriders into second spot. Buffalo City Surfriders stalwart Gareth Sepp came third, and 2015 Over 45 Champion Rob Moore-Boyle of eThekweni Surfriders had to settle for fourth spot.

Adding to Buffalo City’s list of successes at the championships hosted by Buffalo City, was victory for David Malherbe, who took gold in the Over 50 Final. Darryl Adamson of Ugu Surfriders was runner-up, Richard Heath of Cape Winelands won bronze and Andre Mory of Cape Town Surfriders took fourth spot.

Multiple world and South African champion Chris Knutsen of eThekweni added another victory notch to his belt when he beat Trevor Hansen of Nelson Mandela Bay Surfriders into second place in the Over 55 Final. Nelson Mandela Bay Chairman Andre Venter came third, and Surfing South Africa deputy President Bruce Anderson of Cape Town Surfriders took fourth place.

The oldest division to participate in this year’s championships were the Over 60’s, who are known as the Supervets, and here Buffalo City’s Gordon Harmer beat Jeremy Zinn of Cape Town Surfriders to win the title. David Lipschitz of Nelson Mandela Bay was third, and Warren Wareing of Ugu Surfriders came fourth.

Buffalo City Surfriders won the Presidents Cup for the highest scores in the Open Divisions. eThekweni came second, followed by Cape Town, Ugu, Nelson Mandela Bay, Ilembe, Eden and Cape Winelands. Buffalo City won the Masters Cup for the 12th year in a row, beating Nelson Mandela Bay into second spot. Then came eThekweni, Cape Town,Ugu, Eden, Ilembe and Cape Winelands.

The inaugural Champions Cup, which is presented to the team scoring the highest combined points total, went to the dominant Buffalo City Team. eThekweni came second, Nelson Mandela Bay were third, followed by Cape Town, Ugu, Eden, Ilembe and Cape Winelands.

Pictures of Benjamin (main photo) and Brand courtesy of Ian Thurtell


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