Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and Luke Thompson (Durban) earned their maiden World Surf League (WSL) event titles when they won the Men’s and Junior Men’s respectively at the Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits in East London on Sunday.
Classic conditions and a pumping 1.5 to 2.0 metre swell at Nahoon Reef produced the ideal canvas for the country’s top surfers to perform their magic in the Qualifying Series (QS)1,000 rated men’s and Junior Qualifying Series (JQS)1,000 rated events.
After having to wait out a lull in the waves that saw the Men’s final restarted after no rides were had in the first 10 minutes, Staples raced into a commanding lead in the final, tearing his first wave apart and being rewarded with an excellent 8.50 out of 10 from the judges, before adding a 7.0 minutes later.
His opponent Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), currently the highest ranked South African in 10th place on the QS leaderboard, was left needing a massive 15.50 points before he had even caught a wave. Uncharacteristically McGillivray fell victim to a priority interference error that penalised him the full score of one of his two counting rides and effectively banished him to the runner-up spot.
Staples eventually ran out the winner by 15.50 vs. 5.00 to claim his first WSL event title and, even though he claims that he is no longer a full-time competitive surfer, he has moved into the top 5 on the WSL Africa rankings list with his victory.
The semi-finals saw Staples have the rare privilege of ousting East London surfing legend Greg Emslie in his home break while McGillivray dug deep and produced and epic ride that earned him the event’s highest score – a near-perfect 9.25 – to overtake Diran Zakarian (Melkbosstrand) in the dying minutes of their last four encounter.
The Junior Men’s final showed that local surfing is in good hands when the four finalists all went ballistic in the pumping overhead surf and the lead changing hands after virtually every wave. When the siren sounded to end the final Luke Thompson from the Durban beachfront was leading by a slender 0.60 of a point over local favourite Thomas Lindhorst (East London).
Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay) made a determined effort for victory with a great last ride, but had to settle for third place, 0.75 of a point behind Lindhorst, while East Londoner Mitch du Preez claimed fourth place.
On the sidelines Surfing South Africa ran activities coordinated by SSA Development Officer Danielle Powis, designed to foster and encourage surfing among the youth.
Full more see www.WorldSurfLeague.com
Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro Men’s Final Results
- Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) 15.50
- Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) 5.0
Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro Men’s Semi-Final Results
SF1: Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) 12.25 def. Greg Emslie (East London) 9.50
SF2: Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) 16.5 def. Diran Zakarian (Melkbosstrand) 12.10
Mitchum Buffalo City Surf Pro Junior Men’s Final Results
- Luke Thompson (Durban) 12.10
- Thomas Lindhorst (East London) 11.50
- Luke Slijpen (Hout Bay) 10.75
- Mitch du Preez (East London) 7.35
WSL Africa Men’s Rankings (After Mitchum Port Alfred Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits)
1 Maree, Jordan Kalk Bay 1955
2 Van Zyl, David Glenashley 1720
3 Lightfoot, Dylan Jeffreys Bay 1400
4 Staples, Dale St Francis Bay 1185
5 Masencamp, Adin Strand 1170
WSL Africa Junior Men’s Rankings (After Mitchum Port Alfred Surf Pro pres. by Reef Wetsuits)
1 Hendricks, Dillon Jeffreys Bay 1280
2 Elkington, Max Kommetjie 1050
3 Thompson, Luke Durban 1000
4 Slijpen, Luke Hout Bay 955
5 Lindhorst, Thomas East London 950