Great Waves and High Scores for Opening Day of Vic Bay Classic

VICTORIA BAY, GEORGE, SOUTHERN CAPE – The inaugural Vic Bay Classic is the 7th stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Africa Qualifying Series (QS) Tour, the final stop on the 2019 City Surf Series (CSS) and first time since 1995 that a QS rated event is being run in the fabled  waves of Victoria Bay.

Victoria Bay legend Sean Holmes reveling in the waves during his opening heat of the Vic Bay Classic. Photo: WSL / Thurtell

The day started with rounds of the Junior Men and Women 1 in clean 2-3ft (one meter) waves. Local surfer Aya Gericke (Wilderness) was the standout in the Junior Men’s, winning his Round 1 heat with two 7-point rides finishing ahead of goofy-footer Mitch du Preez (East London) as the pair eliminated third and fourth-placed Christian Venter (Melkbosstrand) and Wulf Erhardt (Mossel Bay).

Vic Bay Surf Pro Classic.  Ian Thurtell

Rachel Presti (GER) looked like the surfer to beat in the first heat of the Junior Women’s, with a total of 13.25. Piper Harrison (AUS) finished in second, sending WSL Africa Junior rankings leader Ceara Knight (Cape Town) home.

South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag was right at home surfing at her local break in the Women’s QS 1000 rated event. Buitendag opened used her signature backhand attack to earn an excellent 8.00 from the judges and then backed that up with a 5.65 to comfortably her heat. Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay) held onto second place ahead of Australia’s Sophie Fletcher and S’nenhlanhla Makhubu (Durban).

Bianca Buitendag

One of the shock losses in the first round was the departure of Hawaii’s Zoe McDougall. McDougall had plenty of success in the 2018 City Surf Series and is a threat in every heat. This time, however, she was ousted by her namesake and South African rising star Zoë Steyn. Steyn squeezed into second place ahead of McDougall in the last heat of the round and advanced to the last 16 with heat winner Piper Harrison (AUS). 

The Men’s QS 1000 Round1 ended with some exciting high-performance surfing from Sandon Whittaker (AUS) who scored the highest heat total of the day. Whittaker was leading the heat with a 7.75 in the bag when he sealed the deal with an incredible 9.25 for a total of 17 points out of a possible 20, leaving his opponents in a combination situation.

Sean Holmes, a long-standing Vic Bay local and former Qualifying Series event winner advanced to the next round after finishing in second place behind Germany’s Dylan Groen. Holmes holds a unique place in the history of surfing in South Africa that included beating the late three-time world champion Andy Irons (HAW) more often than not at J-Bay, where he was recognized as the most dangerous wild-card on tour.

“It was my first QS event in a very long while. It was super clean 3-foot Vic Bay, a nice warm winter’s day and a great day for the event,” said Holmes.

Alongside Holmes was fellow Vic Bay legend and good friend David Pfaff, who struggled to find waves with decent scoring potential and was eliminated along with Angelo Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay).

“We had loads of fun. Tomorrow looks to be great as well. So stoked to be down here,” Holmes added.

The next call is for Friday, 21 June and will start with Women’s QS 1000 action.

Alongside the world-class surfing action, the City Surf Series events also embrace sustainability and transformation programs such as the Surfing South Africa (SSA) Learn To Surf outreach project in collaboration with Caltex EC, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Ocean Pledge.

Ocean Pledge will assist in creating ‘Blue Events,’ while the NSRI will be educating members of the public, competitors, local schools and surf outreach programs about ocean safety and ocean awareness.

More information, results, and images will be available on and on the WSL App. 

Local surfer, Bianca Buitendag

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