Surfers’ invasion

200 surfers in Nahoon Reef battle for SA Surfing Champs honours 

NAHOON Reef is currently a hive of activity after the arrival of over 200 surfers who are participating in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz South African Surfing Championships hosted by Buffalo City from Tuesday to Sunday (August 22 to 27).

The SA Championships – supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation SA and the National Lotteries Commission – is the premier event on the Surfing South Africa calendar and features surfers in the Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions as well seven other age groups ranging from over-30 to over-60.

SURF’S LOOKING UP: Five time South African Men’s Champion Greg Emslie welcomes the best surfers in the country to his home surf of Nahoon Reef this week. This is where the 2017 Mercedes-Benz South African Surfing Championships takes place until Sunday Picture: SUPPLIED

Nahoon Reef has hosted numerous South African Championships since the inaugural event in 1965 and in 1978 the ISA World Surfing Championships took place at this iconic surf spot.

This year Surfing South Africa (SSA) celebrates the 52nd edition of the South African Championships making it one of the longest- running surfing tournaments in the world.

Mercedes-Benz and the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) have partnered with SSA to not only to showcase South Africa’s surfing talent at the annual national championships, but also help the national team prepare for surfing’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

In addition Mercedes-Benz, Buffalo City, and SSA will highlight East London’s importance as a major South African surfing venue through the presenting of the annual championships, preparation and support of the national team, hosting of coaching and judging seminars and support of local outreach programmes.

The 2017 SA Championships will feature over 160 surfers from eight districts who will be competing for nine individual South African titles.

Adding prestige to the event, is the news that current World Big Wave Champion, Grant “Twiggy” Baker will be representing eThekweni in the over- 40 division while World Masters champion and five time South African men’s champion, Greg Emslie, will be back to defend his title, this time at his local surf spot.

He will also be competing in the over-40 division, the same group as Baker.

Chris Knutsen of eThekweni, a five time world champion and four-time South African champion, will be competing in the over-55 division while former World Tour campaigner, ISA World Masters Champion and eight-time South African champion Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders, will be hoping to add a ninth title to her list of achievements.

Twenty-four current and former national team members are competing while six of the nine 2016 South African champions are back to defend their titles.

There are six world champions turning out for their districts at this year’s championships – along with some well-known provincial and district surfing stars.

Surfers representing districts from along the South African coast will contest 11 divisions from under 20 to over 60 and will compete in a total of 140 heats.

The 126 heats make up 47 hours of competition which will be completed over six days of intense competition. Individual titles will be at stake in nine divisions and surfers’s scores will be allocated to their district totals to determine which team will win the 45-year-old Presidents Cup and the Masters Cup. This year all the points from the open divisions and Masters divisions will be combined to determine the winners of the inaugural Champions Cup.

The 2016 Presidents Cup was won by Cape Town Surfriders and at Seal Point in 2016 the Buffalo City Surfriders team secured their 11th Masters Cup. These events were held separately in 2016.

To commemorate the memory of a much-loved president of the Buffalo City Surfriders, Surfing South Africa has introduced the Dave Fish Trophy which will be awarded to the most consistent surfer throughout the event. Fish passed away just days before last year’s SA Masters Championships.

Heats started on Tuesday with the finals of all nine divisions scheduled to take place on Sunday.

The event schedule is posted on the Surfing South Africa website www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za and results and photos are updated daily. The SSA Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will be updated regularly during the contest.

The event is hosted by Buffalo City Surfriders, presented by Surfing South Africa and produced by Accelerate Marketing. Surfing South Africa is the governing body for the sport in South Africa and is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

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