SA’s best surfers take to the water for championships action
Cape Town - The Surfing SA championships are taking place this week at Nahoon Reef, East London.
The six-day tournament hosted by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality features about 200 surfers and officials.
According to the Team SA website, the official competition started on Tuesday and ends on Sunday.
The championships are the premier event on the Surfing SA calendar which feature surfers in the premier open men’s and women’s divisions as well seven other age groups ranging from over 30 to over 60.
This year over 160 surfers from eight districts and three provinces are competing for nine individual South African titles, traditional trophies, medals and an R1 000 cheque for each winner.
Leading the charge for gold medals is current world masters, five-time South African and defending over 40 Division champion Greg Emslie.
Emslie was runner-up in the premier men's division last year and is determined to add a sixth title to the five which already makes him one of the greatest South African surfers in history.
Five-time world champion and four-time South African champion Chris Knutsen from eThekweni, is back to defend his title, while the eight-time South African Open women's champion and 2017 over 30 women's gold medalist Heather Clark hopes to add a ninth women's title.
29 current and former national team members are also competing this year, and eight of the nine 2017 South African champions are defending their titles.
The competition will also see 14-year-old local girl Zoe Steyn and eThekwini's Nicole Pallet compete along with their team-mates who have been named for the World Surfing Games late September in Japan.
The surfers are competing in a total of 128 heats which will take 48 hours to complete over six days.
Each surfer in every team has to acquire points which will be allocated to their District totals to determine which team wins the 45-year-old Presidents Cup, which involves the open men and women surfers and the Masters Cup that is competed for by the surfers in the over 30 to over 60 divisions.
As National Women's Day falls on Thursday, the South African Championships will only feature women's heats in celebration of this day.
This year marks the 53rd edition, making it one of the longest-running surf tournaments in the world.
The city has partnered with Surfing SA to not only showcase various talents but to continue their support for the national team in preparation for surfing’s inclusion to the 2020 Olympics in Japan.