Bianca Buitendag Carries South Africa’s Medal Hopes at ISA World Surfing Games in Japan
Team captain Bianca Buitendag of Victoria Bay (with surfboard) is congratulated by her South African surfing teammates after winning her Round 5 heat at the Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games in Japan – Photo: ISA / Reed
The hopes of both an individual and a team medal for the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team rest squarely on the shoulders of captain Bianca Buitendag after five days of competition at the 2018 Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games in Tahara, Japan.
Buitendag is just one heat away from a second consecutive medal in the ISA’s annual showpiece and South Africa currently occupies fifth place in the provisional team standings after the best showing by the team’s men since winning the team gold medal in Panama in 2013.
The Saffas have a rest day today as the top seven teams from the 2017 World Surfing Games, plus the host nation Japan, battle for the gold, silver, bronze and copper medals in the Aloha Cup, a form of relay surfing.
The men’s event was completed on Wednesday with Santiago Muniz of Argentina bagged a second gold medal to go with his victory in the 2011 event. The South American finished ahead of overwhelming favourite Kanoa Igarashi of Japan with Luca Mesinas (Peru) and Shun Murakami (Japan) taking third and fourth places respectively.
David van Zyl of Glenashley was the top South African performer in the men’s event, finishing in eighth position out of the 107 men in Japan. Van Zyl reached Round 3 of the Main event before dropping into the Repecharge stream where he progressed though another four rounds, winning two heats and placing second twice, before being ousted.
In his first cap for the senior South African team, Adin Masencamp of the Strand advanced to Round 4 in the Main event stream and then won one Repo heat before ending the event in 15th place overall. Beyrick de Vries of uMhlanga earned 25th place in his first appearance at an ISA event since 2010.
Zoe Steyn of East London and Nicole Pallet of La Lucia, both of whom are making their debuts on the South African team, finished 37th and 25th respectively while Buitendag has charged through the Main event draw, winning four match ups and finishing runner-up once.
A top two result in her next heat will see the lanky Southern Cape standout qualify for the final and a guaranteed medal. If she finishes third or fourth, Buitendag will still have another chance to reach the final by earning first or second spot in the Repecharge final.
Competitive giants USA and Australia fill the top two places in the provisional team rankings and both have all three of their women in contention to accumulate additional points towards their respective team’s total.
France holds third place with two women still in the event, Japan is fourth with all their surfers already eliminated and South Africa is in fifth place with a mathematical chance of grabbing the fourth place team copper medal if Buitendag makes the final and the two French girls do not.
Whatever result Buitendag achieves, South Africa are guaranteed of finishing in the top six of the event, their best result since 2014.
The four surfers representing Spain in the Aloha Cup pipped host nation Japan by a slender 0.27 of a point to clinch the gold medal in the one-of-a-kind team relay event featuring the top eight teams from last year’s edition of the ISA World Surfing Games. Costa Rica earned the bronze medal and the USA the copper in the tiny waves on offer at Tahara.
The event will take a break on Friday and return on Saturday (starting12 midnight Friday night South African time) for the completion of the women’s event and the awards ceremony where the final team positions will be announced.
The Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games is streamed live on www.isasurf.org from Saturday 15 to Saturday 22 September. Team rosters, photos, videos, results and news will be available on the ISA website throughout the event.
The event can also be viewed on the ISA Facebook page (International Surfing Association), on Instagram (@ISAsurfing) and on Twitter (@ISAsurfing)
Provisional Team Points (Top 10 of 42 heading into the final day on Saturday)
1 USA 3920
2 Australia 3490
3 France 3375
4 Japan 3368
5 South Africa 2973
6 Peru 2605
7 Spain 2528
8 New Zealand 2415
9 Argentina 2340
10 Canada 2248
Mercedes-Benz and Buffalo City are supporting the South African Surfing Team’s participation in the ISA World Surfing Games for the second successive year.
Surfing South Africa is the governing body for the sport in South Africa and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the African Surfing Confederation (ASC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA). Surfing South Africa is recognised and supported by the National Department of Sport and Recreation.
All South African surfing teams that participate in international events are chosen by the National Selectors and, in terms of the SSA Constitution, are ratified by the Board of Directors of Surfing South Africa.
Press Release – Robin de Kock – General Manager – Surfing South Africa