East London’s newest surfing star Zoe Steyn put in the performance of her life when she upset the odds at Nahoon Reef on Sunday to become the youngest ever Mercedes-Benz South African women’s surfing champion.
The 14-year-old Merrifield College pupil was in superb form to dominate the final, beating out this year’s favourite, eight-time South African women’s surfing champion Heather Clark, defending champion Olivia Brand and fellow Buffalo City Surfrider Tayla de Coning to take the title.
Steyn scored two monster waves in the final, with her second delivering the highest score of the day, a 9.33, which ended up being Clark’s entire heat score as she finished second.
Steyn’s third wave gave her an 8.17 and 17.50 score overall, as she comfortably triumphed, with de Coning third with a 7.70 overall score.“It feels amazing, I still can’t really believe it,” said Steyn.
“It has definitely been one of my best surfing weeks, there were good waves and good surfing the whole week so it was great. The waves were really good in the final so that was lucky, it’s nice to have good waves in a big competition and it was a really tough competition.
“It was such a good wave [the 9.33], so I really tried to remember what my coach said and what the strategy was and I tried to surf it as best I could and it came off.“I was excited and honoured to surf against someone like Heather and to beat her was just amazing,” Steyn said.
For the second year in a row, the SA champs proved to be one for the youngsters as 20-year-old Cape Town Surfrider Jordy Maree triumphed in the open men’s division.
Maree, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, gave himself the perfect present by beating out eThekwini surfer Chad du Toit, who finished second, and Buffalo City Surfriders Tyrell Johnson and Thomas Lindhorst, who finished third and fourth respectively.
In the final, Maree led from the start, kicking things off with a 6.17 score on his first wave, before following that up with a nine on his second, to give him a winning total of 15.17, while du Toit ended on 11.26, Johnson on 9.27 and Lindhorst on 8.80.
“It was my first time surfing SA champs and I won my first title, so it has been the perfect week,” Maree said.
“It has been good, the weather has done a full 360 degrees, we had perfect weather today and other days were rainy and windy.
“The waves were a bit tough on the first few days, but from there it just got better and better as the week progressed and today [Sunday] was an amazing day of surf.
“I just played my game and it worked out for me, there weren’t many waves in my heat, while there were quite a few in the heat before, so I thought it was going to be one for one but it ended up being only two good sets throughout the heat and I took them,” Maree said.
In the end, hosts Buffalo City Surfriders took the overall honours as well.In a repeat of last year, they picked up the Presidents Cup for the most points by a team in the open men’s and women’s divisions – beating eThekwini into second and Cape Town into third, the Masters Cup for the most points in the age group divisions, with Cape Town second and eThekwini third.