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)