Benjamin pips local star, Emslie, to SA surfing title

Emslie just falls short

AN overwhelmed Brandon Benjamin of Cape Town Surfriders became the 52nd South African Men’s Champion at Nahoon Reef on Sunday, beating defending champion and five- time SA Champion, Greg Emslie, from East London on his home turf.

MAKING WAVES: Brandon Benjamin beat East London’s Greg Emslie on his home turf to take the 2017 Mercedes -Benz SA Surfing Championships on Sunday at Nahoon Reef Picture: IAN THURTELL

Benjamin and Emslie, of Buffalo City Surfriders, were very close surfing the 4- to 5-foot (1.2 to 1.5m) surf at the 2017 Mercedes -Benz SA Surfing Championships hosted by Buffalo City Municipality.

Earlier this year the 20-year-old from Steenberg represented South Africa at the ISA World Surfing Games in France where Emslie was the team coach.

His incredible victory by a mere one point was greeted with joy by the members of the SWOT Surf Club, his Cape Town Surfriders teammates and by the crowd at the awards ceremony.

Benjamin, who has come through Surfing South Africa’s programmes, is one of the youngest surfers to win the coveted South African Open Men’s title. Cody Coetsee, 19, of Ugu Surfriders was third and Chris Frolich of eThekweni Surfriders came fourth in the final.

Newly-crowned SA women’s champion, Olivia Brand of eThekweni Surfriders, was another young surfer to upset the odds when she beat eight- time SA champion Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders. Brand has not been competing regularly of late and her comeback at this significant event should help her change her mind. She dominated the final, beating Clark by over five points. Danica Stockigt of Buffalo City Surfriders was third and Maya Shefer-Boswell of Cape Town Surfriders took fourth place.

In the over 35 men’s division Tyrell Johnson of Buffalo City Surfriders celebrated his birthday in style with a good win over defending champion Llewellyn Whittaker of Eden. Tyrell’s brother, Orrin, was third.

The over-30 women’s title was won by Heather Clark with Michelle van Kempen of Nelson Mandela Bay second and 2016 champion Lynne Mackey of eThekweni Surfriders third. Tasha Mentasti of Eden came fourth. Clark’s overall performance during the six-day event earned her the Surfer of the Contest Award.

Emslie won the over-40 title beating Buffalo City teammate Tristan Johnson into second spot. Justin Maisch of Ugu Surfriders was third. Emslie’s consistent surfing throughout the championships saw him become the inaugural recipient of the Dave Fish Trophy.

MAKING WAVES: Brandon Benjamin beat East London’s Greg Emslie on his home turf to take the 2017 Mercedes -Benz SA Surfing Championships on Sunday at Nahoon Reef Picture: IAN THURTELL

This trophy was introduced at this year’s SA Champs in memory of former SSA board member and Buffalo City Surfriders president, Dave Fish, who passed away last year.

In a show of brilliant surfing which resulted in the first 10-point ride of the event, Wayne Monk of Buffalo City added the over-45 division SA title to the many national titles he has won since winning the SA Championships at Nahoon Reef for the first time in 1989. Monk beat defending champion Carl Roux of Ugu Surfriders into second spot. BC Surfriders stalwart Gareth Sepp came third.

Adding to Buffalo City’s list of success at the championships, was victory for David Malherbe in the over 50 final. Darryl Adamson of Ugu Surfriders was the runner-up and Richard Heath of Cape Winelands won bronze.

Multiple world and South African champion Chris Knutsen of eThekweni added another victory notch to his belt when he beat Trevor Hansen of Nelson Mandela Bay Surfriders into second place in the over-55 final. Nelson Mandela Bay chairman Andre Venter came third and Surfing SA deputy president Bruce Anderson of Cape Town Surfriders, took fourth place.

The oldest division was the over-60s who are known as the Supervets and here Buffalo City’s Gordon Harmer beat Jeremy Zinn of Cape Town Surfriders to win the title. David Lipschitz of Nelson Mandela Bay was third.

Buffalo City Surfriders won the Presidents Cup for the highest scores in the open divisions, with eThekweni second followed by Cape Town, Ugu, Nelson Mandela Bay, Ilembe, Eden and Cape Winelands. Buffalo City won the Masters Cup for the 12th year in a row beating Nelson Mandela Bay into second spot.

The inaugural Champions Cup which is presented to the Team that scores the highest combined points total went to the dominant Buffalo City Team. eThekweni came second, Nelson Mandela Bay were third followed by Cape Town.

All the heat results, team results and photos from the six days of competition are posted on

The 52nd edition of the South African Surfing Championships began and ended at Nahoon Reef with three of the five days taking place at Nahoon Corner, courtesy of some huge storm surf that hit East London midweek.

Despite these challenges the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SA Surfing Championships hosted by Buffalo City and supported by Sport and Recreation SA and the National Lotteries Commission was a huge success. Over 150 surfers from eight districts competed in the championships which were held in great surf over six days.


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