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The view from above the hill, first light. The day the swell filled in the water was a glassy and pristine as it gets. A typical Point setup.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
The South African Junior Championship is held once a year and is the highlight of the junior calendar and a chance to crown the best junior champion of that year. Surfers strive for individual titles, but it is just as much a team event.
Surfers from each province contribute to an overall tally which ultimately results in a grand winner. This year Western Province, from in and around Cape Town, took the win, despite host province Eastern Province's solid performance.
Events like these are crucial to the development and well-being of surfing in any region or country. Juniors are the future and to see them pushing each other and take their own surfing to the next level was truly something special. It was also a great opportunity to see new upcoming talent like JJ Harris from Durban, who has a strong future as a power surfer.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Supertubes... you hear me?© 2013 Alan van Gysen
J-Bay never fails to surprise and wow its tourists with glorious mornings like this.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
When the swell pulled in things changed drastically and gone were the mellow walls and easy paddle-outs. Jetski's were called in to assist the younger groms, National Sea Rescue Institute was on standby and parents nervously paced the contest area while their young one threw themselves into the biggest surf a junior contest has seen in recent years, if not ever. No one was forced to do battle with the ocean, but no one was about to let their peers outdo them, so they bravely went out and represented themselves and their provinces.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Not known for its barrels, The Point was that big that it even offered the groms some tube time on Day 4. When it's really big it breaks wide and heavy onto a little sand-filled reef. The perfect recipe for a take-off barrel for JJ Harris.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
This event saw many sons and daughters of famous South African surfer following in their parents footsteps. Max Armstrong is one of them. Son of famous big wave world champion Ian Armstrong, he is no stranger to the bigger stuff, despite his young age. He progressed to the finals of his U17 division.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Another chip of the old blink? Monk is the son of well-known East London surfer Wayne. Used to surfing right hand points Michael set to work with solid rail-to-rail surfing to best many of his peers.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
U13, U16 and U17 groms tackled the giant surf as bravely as any I have ever met, and earned the respect of parents and elders alike. But even the bravest known when to bail. Young York van Jaarsveld exits a rocky, inside closeout.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
KobyOberholzer, son of legendary South African surfer Frankie Oberholzer. Koby's style and fluidity even at his young age are clearly a carbon-copy DNA imprint from his dad. He advanced into the final of the event.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
With near gale-force winds on Day 4 most of the contest site had to be cleared of tents, flags and anything that wasn't bolted down. But it is wind like this that often brings the good surf. Fortunately The Point is one of the more protected sections of the point and was still manageable.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Not every bomb had a grom attached.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
AdinMasencamp - Western Province representative Jake Elkington watches on as fellow competitor Adin Masencamp carves his rail on a small, inside wall of The Point.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
After a series of big drops and solid bottoms turns, Jake Elkington focuses on his rail to rail surfing to advance into the final of the SA Junior Champs.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Discretion is (sometimes) the better part of valour.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Young Ethan Fletcher was a standout on the final day of competition at The Hurley South African Junior Champs, and had his fellow finalists in a combination situation with a matter of minutes with a perfect 10-point ride and a backup 9.0© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Big, wide and inevitable© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Steff Burrows has a lethal backhand and has been compared to a young, South African version of Occy.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
There were more than a few rouge sets that caught the competitors out or had them pulling back.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
MattMcGillivray01-03 - Local boy Matt McGillivray used his local knowledge to his advantage by claiming the first successful tube ride of the contest and went on to win his U17 division. In years to come he will be a South African to watch out for with mature, professional surfing like this.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
And every now and then when the sky cleared and the sun popped out it made the waves look all the more inviting despite the size.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Ari Kraak, son of famous Jeffrey's Bay resident and ex-Billabong SA owner Cheron Kraak, Ari Kraak saved the day with his cool-headed jetski assistance in the biggest surf a junior contest has ever seen in South Africa in living memory, and definitely some of the biggest waves ridden by juniors at Point ever.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
This is what Supers looked like from the hill on the morning of Day 4. Imagine what the groms and their concerned parents were thinking.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
While the grooms were doing battle with the ocean down at Point, local surfers like Daniel Thornton were pulling into bus-size tubes like this from Boneyards through to Impossibles.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Have you been to Jeffreys Bay?© 2013 Alan van Gysen
A clear indication of an approaching set down at Point is when Supertubes, followed by Coins offers up a big grinding barrel. Count and it will be at Point soon enough. And while the grooms battled it out at Point, surfers like Matthew Bromley made the most of the flawless surf to get more than their fair share of tube time.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
Matt McGillivary pulling into a big old shack.© 2013 Alan van Gysen
In what has been called the biggest surf a junior event has ever seen in living memory in South Africa, the lesser celebrated inside section of Jeffrey's Bay, The Point, looked nothing like its usual self on Day 4 of competition.
But groms like young Jake Elkington did not let the long paddles and big walls intimidate them and they charged as hard as anyone I've ever seen. Legends.
Words: Crag Jarvis
Captions and Photos: Alan van Gysen
The contest organisers saw the swell from a week away, everything was in motion, and the surfers in the Hurley SA Junior Champions were going to meet it head-on. There was no time for lay days, it was to be 5 full days of competitive surfing at The Point in Jeffreys Bay, and with the forecast showing some serious grunt, it was going to be a challenge.
The biggest challenge lay in the fact that the contest had U13 Girls and U13 Boys in the mix, and it looked like the swell was going to max out. The Point at Jeffreys Bay might not be as ferocious or intimidating as Supertubes, but an 8-foot wave is an 8-foot wave. Also, just down from The Point is a pretty gnarly stretch of rocks before the waves unload at Albatross, the last section of wave in J-Bay.
We knew it was going to get big from Friday as the wind was a proper gale force offshore and the swell was growing steadily under the wind, instead of being blown away. By Friday night it was looking about 6ft, but in the paraphrased words of the legendary Bear, that was just the lemon next to the pie. That was nothing.
Saturday morning loomed large and dark and menacing. As the morning unfolded, huge chunks of water could be seen pouring down the point from Boneyards to The Point, where the competitors, some as young as 10-years-old, stood and watched, along with their very nervous parents. The water safety was upped, the NSRI bought in reinforcements, and the girls were told that they wouldn’t be surfing. It was time to send the U13 boys out…
The first heat was a bit of a fumble, as none of the surfers could get to the back-line and they surfed the inside foamies for a very average result. It didn’t take long, however, for Koby Oberholzer, son of the legendary Frankie Oberholzer, to make it out and pick up one monster wave. It looked to be about triple overhead to young Mr Oberholzer, but he rode it with style and grace to be awarded an excellent score in the 9-point range. From that moment on the contest changed and became a charge-fest with all the groms trying their hardest to out do each other and catch the biggest waves they could. Some incredible performances went down, and some totally gob-smacked parents watched their children paddling into monster waves and surfing with incredible bravery and skill. It was a defining moment for Junior Surfing in South Africa.
Up at Supers surfers like Jason Ribbink and Grant Twiggy Baker were getting some of the best waves of their chequered careers, including multiple barrels and giant Boneyards tube rides. Some surfers got bombs, some never made it out to the back, getting swept down the point and over the rocks to try again. Surfers were getting the waves of their lives.
The Sunday was still perfect, the waves still big, but the sun was out and the sets were less intense. The girls hit the water and surfed their early round heats, before it was time for the finals. The waves continued to pulse for the groms as they fought it out for the division titles.
1. Matt McGillivray (EP) 2. Dylan Wichmann (WP) 3. Steff Burrows (BOL) 4. Max Armstrong (WP)
1.Teal Hogg (KZNC) 2. Robyn VD Merwe (EP) 3. Inge McLaren (BOR) 4. Chanelle Botha (SKZN)
1. Ethan Fletcher (WP) 2. Jordy Maree (WP) 3. Jake Elkington (WP) 4. Tristan Lev (BOL)
1. Ruth Armstrong (WP) 2. Cana Foster (KZNC) 3. Crystal Hulett (EP) 4. Michelle Verreynne (SC)
1. Angelo Faulkner (EP) 2. Koby Oberholzer (KZNC) 3. Max Elkington (WP) 4. Karl Steen (KZNC)
1. Kai Woolf (EP) 2. Sophie Bell (KZNC) 3. Kirsty McGillivray (EP) 4. Olivia Izzard (KZNC)
Hurley Surfer of the Contest presented by All Aboard Travel: Kai Woolf (EP)
Oakley Highest Heat Score: Kai Woolf (EP) Red Bull Big Air: Max Armstrong (WP)
My Dad Shred Shesh by Firewire Surfboards: Wayne Monk (Border)
Skullcandy Team Spirit: Southern KwaZulu-Natal
Zigzag Blowing Up Award: Koby Oberholzer (KZNC)
Rebel Surfboards Highest Placed Development Surfer:
Sne Makhuba (SA Development Academy)
Dutchie Surfboards Highest Placed Unsponsored Surfer: Dylan Wichmann (WP)