The Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team moved into fourth place and potentially a copper medal in the Team category at the 2018 Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games after the third day of competition in Tahara, Japan.
Hosts Japan head the team standings and are the only nation still to have all six of their surfers in contention. Spain and the USA each have one athlete eliminated while South Africa heads a group of seven nations who have had two team members sidelined from the event.
Team captain Bianca Buitendag of Victoria Bay again led the way for the Saffas, cruising into the last six in the women’s Main event. Last year’s bronze medalist finished runner-up to French standout Justine Dupont in Round 3, relegating compatriot Nicole Pallet of La Lucia to fourth place in their heat and dropping her teammate into the grueling Repecharge rounds
Buitendag then posted the highest women’s heat total of today’s action, 15.50 out of 20, to score a psychological advantage by finishing ahead of last year’s gold medalist Pauline Ado (France). The lanky South Africa faces Dupont and Paige Hareb (New Zealand) when competition resumes, with the top two in the heat advancing to the last four in the Main event stream and the third placed woman dropping to the Repo rounds.
Zoe Steyn of East London was the first Saffa to be eliminated from the event when she placed third behind competitors from Portugal and Indonesia in Repecharge Round 3. The hugely talented 14-year-old rookie of the team will have learned plenty from her participation in Japan where she progressed through two rounds of cutthroat, 15 minute Repo heats before ending her campaign in equal 37th place overall and contributing 300 points to the team’s tally.
In the men’s draw, Beyrick de Vries of uMhlanga started the day strongly with two Repecharge heat wins, but was narrowly outpointed in Round 5 and the experienced international campaigner will be disappointed at finishing equal 25th and only adding 360 team points. David van Zyl of Glenashley was well off the top two in his Main event Round 3 heat but then produced two fighting finishes in Repo heats and will restart his challenge for honours in Round 6 on Wednesday.
Adin Masencamp of the Strand will also kick-start his bid for glory and a big haul of team points in Repecharge Round 6 after becoming the only South African male to reach the last 16 in the Main event stream before being relegated to the Repos.
The men are set for a big day on Wednesday when their Grand Final will be run before the Women’s Final is run later in the week after waiting out a brief flat spell of waves.
Japanese born and California raised Kanoa Igarashi has rapidly assumed national hero status by becoming the first Japanese surfer to qualify for the Grand Final of the men’s division of the ISA World Surfing Games. Igarashi is joined by 2011 event champion Santiago Muniz (Argentina) in the Grand Final and they will come up against the top two to emerge from Wednesday’s Repercharge rounds with gold, silver, bronze and copper medals at stake for the four finalists.
The Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games is streamed live starting at 12 midnight South African time on www.isasurf.org from Saturday 15 to Saturday 22 September. Team rosters, photos, videos, results and news will be available on the ISA website throughout the event.
The event can also be viewed on the ISA Facebook page (International Surfing Association), on Instagram (@ISAsurfing) and on Twitter (@ISAsurfing)
Mercedes-Benz and Buffalo City are supporting the South African Surfing Team’s participation in the ISA World Surfing Games for the second successive year.