Clean Sweep for SA as All Four Men Advance at World Surfing Games
The South African surfing team built on the momentum from team captain Bianca Buitendag’s medal performance in the women’s event when all four men advanced to Round 2 of the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games taking place at Grand Plage in Biarritz, France.
A slight increase in swell size on Tuesday provided waves in the waist to chest high range and the onshore wind did not deter the South Africans from producing top class performances against their opponents from 47 other nations at the annual ‘Olympics’ of surfing.
Vice-captain Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) led the way for his teammates by finishing runner-up just behind two-time (2004 & 2010) ISA world champion Hira Terinatoofa (Tahiti) in his opening encounter of the event in the tiny waves on Monday.
Debutant Brandon Benjamin (Steenberg, Cape Town) overcame his nerves in his first appearance representing his country by also grabbing the runner-up spot in his Round 1 heat, relegating the vastly experienced Marcus Selman (Chile) to the Repecharge round.
“Amped to surf one of my biggest heats of my career today,” was Benjamin’s comment on his Facebook page before his heat. “First round nerves out the window, thanks for the support,” he commented after advancing.
David van Zyl (Glenashley, Durban) took to the waves four heats later and used all his progressive aerial skills in the crumbling waves to post a heat victory over surfers from Spain and Chile.
The vociferous South African team, whose use of Vuvuzelas in both the opening ceremonies and to support their teammates while they are competing drew favourable mentions from the event commentators, was then rewarded for their patience when Shane Sykes Salt Rock) completed the clean sweep by winning the last heat of the day.
The first ISA World Surfing Games to be staged since it was announced last year that the sport will be included in the Japan 2020 Olympic Games has attracted a record 243 competitors from 47 nations, many of whom are participating at an international event for the first time.
Newcomer nations such as Afghanistan, Greece, Senegal, Chinese Taipei and China got their chance to show the world the great leaps of growth that their non-traditional surfing nations have experienced in recent years, and especially since the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games.
The event runs until Sunday 28 May and the four South African men will be aiming to advance through another five rounds of competition to reach the final and claim a gold, silver, bronze or copper medal to add to the copper won by Buitendag on Monday.
The schedule for the remainder of the event is:
May 24-28 – Men’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 26 – World Premiere of “Shredding Monsters”, an Olympic Channel Production, 8pm at the Municipal Casino Theatre, Biarritz
May 28 – Closing Ceremony, Grande Plage
The South African team is supported by Mercedes Benz South Africa, Buffalo City Municipality, the National Lotteries Commission and Sport and Recreation South Africa. Travel arrangements were made by All Aboard Travel.
About Surfing South Africa
Surfing South Africa is the recognized governing body for the sport and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA). All South African surfing teams that participate in international events are chosen by the National Selectors and in terms of the SSA Constitution all national teams are ratified by the Board of Directors of Surfing South Africa.