Miyazaki, Japan, 10 September 2019 – South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag clinched the Bronze medal for third place in the Open Women’s event at the ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) presented by Vans in Miyazaki, Japan today (Tuesday).
Competing against two former World Champions and a current member of the elite Championship Tour (CT) in a hard fought final, the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African Surfing team member finished a slender 1.16 points behind eventual winner Sofia Mulanovich (Peru), 0.13 of point behind Silver medallist Silvana Lima (Brazil) and 0.03 of a point ahead of Carissa Moore (USA) who took the Copper.
“I am so stoked, it’s been a long four days,” said Buitendag after the completion of the awards ceremony at the event site. “Today was the last sprint of the marathon and I had the support of the whole team behind me. I’ve hugely inspired by my teammates and now I’m really excited to sit on the shore and watch the boys do what they do.”
The medal was Buitendag’s third in successive ISA WSG events and will join her Copper in France in 2017 and Bronze in Japan last year in her trophy cabinet.
As the highest finishing female surfer from the African Continent, the 25-year-old from Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape also secured provisional qualification for next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games where surfing takes its place among the other disciplines on the world’s premier sports platform.
Just one heat away from a place in Grand Final coming into the last day of the women’s event, Buitendag was forced to contest a cutthroat Repercharge Final when she finished fourth behind Lima, Mulanovich and Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil) in her opening heat of the day.
However, the South African bounced back with a vengeance, posting a 14.63 point (out of 20) heat total, the fifth highest of the final day, to advance to the Grand Final in second place behind Moore, with Weston-Webb and defending event champ Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) eliminated and ending in fifth and sixth places overall.
The South African opened her account in the final with an outstanding 7.77 (out of 10), the highest single scoring ride of the heat, but struggled to produce a similar second score, eventually having to settle for a backup wave of 4.87 as first Mulanovich (with a 7.20 and a 6.60) and then Lima (with 7.60 and 5.17) overtook her.
With teammates Sara Baum and Zoe Steyn finishing equal 21st and equal 29th respectively on Day 3 (Monday), the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African Surfing team currently occupies fifth position among the 55 nations in the provisional standings. After the completion of the Women’s event, the rankings are led by Brazil followed by Peru, USA and Australia.
The Men’s event got underway after the Women’s awards ceremony and South Africa’s Jordy Smith (Durban), the current World No. 2 ranked surfer, easily won his Round 1 encounter against rivals from Panama, Senegal and Puerto Rico.
Teammate Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) delivered a similar heat-winning performance against his opponents from Panama, China and Thailand while Mikey February (Kommetjie) will commence his challenge in Heat 36 early tomorrow.
As with the women, the opportunity to qualify for surfing’s inaugural showing at the Olympic Games next year has attracted the world’s best male surfers to the ISA WSG. South Africa, who ended last year’s edition of the event as the fourth ranked team, will be hard pressed to overcome the likes of Brazil who are being represented by the likes of two-time and reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina, current world No. 1 Filipe Toledo and No. 6 ranked Italo Ferreira.
The USA men’s squad includes 11-time World champ Kelly Slater, who last represented his country at the ISA event 29 years ago, along with Kolohe Andino and Conner Coffin while the Australian squad is made up of Owen Wright, Julian Wilson and Ryan Callinan.
“I haven’t competed for Team USA since the 1990 edition of the World Surfing Games also in Japan,” said Slater. “It’s nice to be here because it brings back great memories.
“It’s great to see that there are some really good surfers from other countries, some known and some unknown. Indonesia has a surfer that is amazing and Morocco looked the best out of anyone today. It would be interesting if a surfer from one of those nations won.”
The 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans is streamed live from September 7-15 on www.isasurf.org starting at approximately 1 am SA Time daily. The tentative schedule for the remainder of the competition is as follows: Wednesday to Saturday, Sep 11-14
- Aloha Cup (TBC)
- Open Men competition continues
- Finals Open Men
- Closing Ceremony
2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans Women’s Results:
- Gold Medal – Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 13.80 pts
- Silver Medal – Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.77 pts
- \Bronze Medal – Bianca Buitendag (RSA) 12.64 pts
- Copper Medal – Carissa Moore (USA) 12.60 pts