Surfing Today With Rip Curl – Haleiwa Challenger Returns

Surfing Today With Rip Curl – Haleiwa Challenger Returns

Haleiwa Challenger Returns for Epic Conclusion to 2023 Challenger Series Season

Final Qualification Spots for the 2023 Championship Tour on the Line

Haleiwa lineup  – Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League)

HALEIWA, Oahu/Hawaii (Wednesday, November 16, 2022) – The 2022 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS) returns to Haleiwa, Oahu, for its 7th and final stop, the Haleiwa Challenger, which holds a competition window November 26 – December 7, 2022. Some of the world’s best competitors and Championship Tour (CT) qualification hopefuls will converge for one last opportunity to secure their places on the 2023 CT. Only a handful of spots remain for the men and women, making every heat high stakes.

Haleiwa local, Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW), got her big win at this very event last season, which secured her first appearance on the CT. Unfortunately, the Mid-Season Cut was not favorable to the Hawaiian, and she spent the rest of the season competing on the Challenger Series to requalify. Now, Sakura Johnson is once again in striking distance of rejoining the world’s best and is hoping for repeat performance to claim her spot on the 2023 CT.

Caitlin Simmers, Haleiwa, Hawaii. (Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League)

“The moment to requalify again would mean a lot,” said Sakura Johnson. “This year has just been a big learning experience. Before the Challenger Series (last year) I wasn’t really competing as much. I’ve just put so much hard work and focus into my surfing to really just improve, and progress on it.”

Sakura Johnson’s road to requalification ends at the Haleiwa Challenger along with CT hopefuls looking to make their mark such as former CT competitors Bronte Macaulay (AUS), and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), along with rising star Alyssa Spencer (USA), long-time qualification threat Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), and many more.

For the likes of CT hopeful Ian Gentil (HAW), this is the final opportunity to earn a big result and make a long-awaited dream become reality. The Maui, Hawaii, competitor stepped away from professional surfing earlier in his career and now sits at No. 5 on the Challenger Series.

“Points and rankings aside, Haleiwa means a lot to me,” said Genitl. “I’ve been looking forward to this event all year and all things considered, I’m exactly where I want to be. One thing I’ve learned this year is that pressure is a good thing. It helps keep me focused. So I hope I feel a ton of pressure at Haleiwa.”

Gentil will have to deal with the likes of recently confirmed 2023 CT surfers Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and Ryan Callinan (AUS), as well as a plethora of those looking to make requalification moves of their own, including Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, Liam O’ Brien (AUS), and Joao Chianca (BRA).


Surfing Today with Rip Curl

Surfing Today with Rip Curl

Rip Curl GromSearch 2023 tentative dates and venues announced.

The 2022 Rip Curl GromSearch season was a fantastic success. The kids who competed in these events were stoked to further their competitiveness and skills during the year. The first contest took place in Victoria Bay after an ocean creature decided to pay us a visit at Mossel Bay. The second event was at Seal Point. Co-sponsored by The Cape St Francis Resort, this tournament was another resounding success.
The final event of the three-contest tour was at Scottburgh in KZN. Despite the recent floods and the damaged beaches, the ocean had an excellent safety reading, and the waves were really fun a bit further down the beach.
During the tour, a new Rip Curl Junior team was announced over a few months. This team consists of Joel Fowles, Gemma Hanefey, Jack Erlank, Blake Crankshaw, Ben Esterhuyse and Rylan Jarvis. Two goofy footers and 5 natural footers.

Scottburgh, © Dave Lindemann

We were lucky to have SuperSport Schools livestream the 2nd and third contests, and the viewership numbers were great.
The 2023 season will expand into a 5-series tour, with the possibility of a big prize at the end of the season.
The 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch will start in Cape Town, and there is a discussion about possibly making this a ‘Search’ event with a mobile venue format. Then the tour will move up the coast and have events in Victoria Bay, Port Alfred, and Scottburgh before finishing off at Seal Point again for the series final, which will take place a week before the SA Junior Champs.
Nothing is confirmed, but this is the gist of the 2023 season, and we’re all really looking forward to it. Thanks to Rip Curl for their continued support of surfing in South Africa, particularly grom surfing. Big thanks to Surfing South Africa, who do an excellent job of seamlessly running these events off in such fine style.

A Great Year For Junior Surfing In South Africa – Surfing Today with Rip Curl

A Great Year For Junior Surfing In South Africa – Surfing Today with Rip Curl

Surfing today with Rip Curl – Junior Surfing in South Africa

It has been an excellent year for junior surfing in South Africa. The Rip Curl GromSearch kicked off again and held three fantastic events in Victoria Bay, Seal Point and Scottburgh. It was a coincidence that they were all perfect right-hand point breaks; the events weren’t set to favour the natural footers. Anyway., these days surfing with your back to the wave is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. 

They were all great fun, hugely exciting, and run with excellent staff from Surfing South Africa, the governing body of the sport in South Africa. 

There were many other contests for the juniors. Here are some of the highlights:

Pumping surf at Port Alfred for the Sea Harvest Grom Event. The waves were firing all weekend, getting up to six-foot at times, and the groms were frothing. Those who enjoyed the bigger stuff excelled in this tournament. Port Alfred is an excellent venue for a surfing event; next year, this contest will be a Rip Curl GromSearch event. 

The inaugural Plakkie Classic Tournament at Victoria Bay was a fantastic success. That success can be directly attributed to the stoke of the juniors and the steady contest directing by Surfing South Africa. It is Surfing South Africa that trains and steers our junior surfers to a possible pro career, and it is these sorts of events that make it all worthwhile. 

Plakkie recap here!

Ben Esterhuyse, Seal Point, gliding over Full Stop- photo Louis Wulff

The Sea Harvest Cape Crown was another of those gem events that everyone loved, and everyone was talking about. The waves were small at Long Beach, but the vibe amongst the best junior surfers in the country was intense. Rory Dace put a win here on his long list of contest victories.

Sea Harvest Cape Crown Surf Event

Rory Dace from Cape St Francis in action at Long Beach © Alan Van Gysen

There were more contests, and the year finished with the Sea Harvest South African Junior Surfing Championships presented by SMTH Shapes at Point in JBay. It was another cracker of an event, a fitting end to a great season for the best junior surfers in the country.

In 2023 the Rip Curl GromSearch is going to five events across the country. These dates and venues will be announced soon, along with a few surprise announcements. More to come


Gallery: St Francis Surfers at SA Junior Champs

Gallery: St Francis Surfers at SA Junior Champs

Local surfers at the recent Sea Harvest South African Junior Surfing Championships presented by SMTH Shapes. All photos © Mike Ruthnum


Dan Emslie and Adriel Wolmarans win the U18 Divisions of The SA Junior Surfing Champs. Rory Dace From CSF Is Our U14 Boys Champ

Dan Emslie and Adriel Wolmarans win the U18 Divisions of The SA Junior Surfing Champs. Rory Dace From CSF Is Our U14 Boys Champ

Winner winner chicken dinner – Rory Dace © Mike Ruthnum.

The news is a week old, but it’s too good not to share.

Sea Harvest SA Junior Surfing Championships 2022

Lower Point, JBay.


All the winners © Mike Ruthnum

Buffalo City Wins the Freedom Cup, eThekweni wins the Loud and Proud Award, while the Male and Female Surfer Of The Contest awards go to Nate Colby and Louise Lepront. 

For the fifth straight morning in a row, Lower Point in JBay revealed perfect waves for the competitors in the 25th Sea Harvest SA Junior Champs presented by SMTH Shapes. 

After a quick semi-finals round, it was straight into the finals, kicking off with the U12 Girls division. Leah Lepront, who has been dominant the whole year, finished her season with another win and the U12 Girls Title for 2022. Camilla Heuer finished in 2nd spot, with Jasmine Venter in 3rd and Mikayla Jeffries in 4th. 

Leah Lepront © Mike Ruthnum

The U12 Boys is always a fierce tussle, and today’s final was no different. Ben Esterhyse’s first scoring ride was a solid 7.77, but Carl Wiersma also pushed hard and banked a 7.5. In reply, Ben hooked an absolute bomb and went vertical on his backhand for an excellent score of 9.33 and the win. Callum Loftus was 3rd, and Damien Roeloffze came 4th. 

 Ben Esterhyse © Mike Ruthnum

“The waves were so good, and I saw this set wave coming. Carl went on the first one, and I got the second one,” said Esterhyse. “I did a couple of turns, found this nice rhythm along the inside section, and did enough to get that 9.33. I was pleased with the result.”

In the U14 Girls, all eyes were on Loise Lepront, who wowed the crowd yesterday with her 10-point ride. She didn’t disappoint and put a 9.5 on the scoreboard, followed by a 6.77 for the U14 Girls title. Remi Fourie, who surfed excellently all week, was in 2nd, with Emily Jenkinson in 3rd and Sophia Jackson in 4th.

 Louise Lepront © Mike Ruthnum

No one knew which way the U14 Boys final would go, with four talented and determined young surfers all determined to get their SA Champs title. But there can be only one, and Rory Dace made it absolutely clear from the outset that he was in it to win it. A heat total of 14.17 saw the Cape St Francis surfer win his title, with Loghan Tilsley, Josh Malherbe and Asbjorn Gwenin in the minor spots. 

Rory Dace © Mike Ruthnum

Gemma Hanafey from Buffalo City was in the lead for most of the U16 Girls final, but as the time ticked away, the last set came through. With Gemma sitting out of priority, Maya Potgieter caught the first good one. After that, she jumped straight into first place, with Anastasia Venter doing the same and leapfrogging into 2nd spot, leaving Hanafey in 3rd. Gia Gilmer was a disappointed 4th, not finding any of the set waves during the final.

 The U16 Girls finals © Mike Ruthnum

It was a perfect opportunity for the three goofy footers to work against the one natural footer in the boys’ U16 Final. But Nate Colby was quick out of the gates and showed everyone why he is one of the country’s top U16 surfers. Then the three goofy footers got waves, and high scores fell everywhere. Surprise Maphumulo and Joel Fowles were battling it while David Emslie was looking for the bombs. Colby just kept finding the perfect inside runners.

Surprise and Joel picked up set waves as the heat drew to a close. Surprise smashed it to the bricks, while Joel did the same with power and precision. The exchange went to Fowles, and he ended up the Boys U16 SA Champion 2022, with Surprise Maphumulo in 2nd. Nate came 3rd and David 4th. 

 Joel Fowles © Mike Ruthnum

“It is by far the highlight of my career,” said Fowles on the beach afterwards. “I have always wanted to be SA Champion, and now I have a title, so I am stoked.”

After a week of excellent surfing, Adriel Wolmarans finished her week with the U18 Girls Division win. She took the title from Aimee Du Preez, who was in 2nd. Demi Row, who had also been impressing all week, finished 3rd, and Maya Figl was 4th.

Adriel Wolmarans © Mike Ruthnum

As the event drew to a close and the U18 Boys final paddled out, there was a minimal indication of who would be the new U18 Boys SA Champion. All four surfers had impressed the whole event, with Joshua Myburgh showing form in the earlier rounds. However, nothing much gets past Dan Emslie at the moment. He found his bombs at the end of the heat. He scored an 8.33 and an excellent 9.5 for a heat total of 17.83, the win and the title U18 Boys SA Champion 2022. Myburgh was second, James Ribbink in 3rd, and Connor Slijpen was 4th.

Dan Emslie © Mike Ruthnum