EVENT: 
Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing

STATUS: 
QS3,000 Men’s event
QS1,000 Women’s event
JQS1,000 Junior Men’s & Women’s events

VENUE:
New Pier, Dairy Beach, Durban, South Africa

DATES: 
June 14-18, 2017

Hawaiian Posts Back-to-Back Victories Following Junior Women’s Title Yesterday

Men’s Top Seeds Up the Ante as QS3,000 Field Trimmed To 32 For Sunday’s Final Day

Zoe McDonald of Hawaii was crowned Women’s Champion at the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley at Dairy Beach in Durban on Saturday, winning the closely fought final held in contestable shoulder-high waves.

McDougall, who won the junior women’s title yesterday, completed a rare World Surf League (WSL) double triumph by securing back-to-back victories at the same event, a feat that will be recorded for posterity when her name appears twice on the inaugural John Whitmore Cup.

Today’s drama filled final was not decided until after the final siren had sounded. Australian Lucy Callister took an early lead in the 20 minute encounter with a 6.87 and then patiently waited for another great wave while holding priority. Fellow Australian Sophia Fulton and McDougal stayed busy in searching for waves with scoring potential  and it was Fulton who took the lead and held it for the majority of heat thanks to a trio of mid-range scores.

McDougall moved into contention for the title with six minutes remaining, finding a long right hand wave heading towards the pier on which she performed a series of manoeuvres for a 6.67. Needing a 4.50 to overtake Fulton, the Hawaiian paddled into left inside the last five minutes which she dissected for 6.07 and the lead.

Ariane Ochoa from the Basque Country was right in the mix but could find the big finish needed to earn good scores. A flurry of waves in last 90 seconds saw all four competitors post rides but after careful deliberation by the judges, none of the scores altered the outcome and McDougall celebrated on the beach.

“I’m so stoked, it’s the perfect way to end the week and I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” said McDougall. “I was kind of struggling in this final and was pretty tired from competing all day today and all day yesterday. This was probably my worst heat of the week, but I kept tried to pull it together and luckily, it was close, but I got there. Now I’m just going to cruise and have some fun, maybe surf some different spots before going to Cape Town.”

Crystal Hulett of St Francis Bay was the highest placed South African in the women’s event, finishing equal fifth overall after placing third behind Ochoa and Callister in their semifinal encounter.

“I really love this competition and I’m very grateful for it, so it’s a nice way to get myself going for the next comp,” said Hulett. “It was tough to find good sections and you had to be very particular in what you do and how you do it. It was very hard, but it was good.”

Earlier on Saturday the top seeds in the QS3,000 men’s event produced a clinic in high-performance beach break surfing as they upped the ante in the Round of 64. Just 32 now remain in contention chasing the lion’s share of the US $75,000 (about R975,000).prize purse and the coveted 3,000 points awarded to the winner. 

The heat of the day was the all-Brazilian showdown where former Championship Tour (CT) fixture and current Qualifying Series (QS) No. 16, Alejo Muniz got off to a sensational start with a pair of excellent eight point rides. But Michael Rodrigues bettered that by closing the heat with rides of 8.70 and 9.0 to grab the day’s highest total, 17.70 out of 20, and advance to the final day alongside Muniz.

“The heat before mine was really slow so my strategy was to try and get two quick waves and I was lucky to get two very good waves in the beginning,” said Muniz. “I didn’t know Michael (Rodrigues) had got even better scores, but I’m really happy to make my first round. South Africa has a special place in my heart, since the beginning it’s always helped me with my campaign and my qualification so I like to be here. I’ve been here for a week already, it’s been amazing, I’ve been surfing fun waves every day, so it’s good times. 

There were plenty of upsets with top seed Bino Lopes (BRA), highly ranked Australians Davey Cathels and Cooper Chapman, Japan’s Hiroto Ohhara and Frenchman Jorgann Couzinet all failing to advance from their opening heats.

Local wildcards Jordy Maree and current WSL Africa junior rankings leader Jake Elkington both ousted higher ranked opponents to book their places in the last 32, as did 16-year-old Brazilian Mateus Herdy whose phenomenal aerial antics have made him a firm favourite with local fans after just two weeks in the country.

South Africa’s Michael February, currently No. 19 on the QS leaderboard, continued the roll that has seen him reach four finals and claim three titles in the country this year by confidently win his heat 

“It was tough only starting on the second last day of the competition with all the internationals, so it’s a bit different to the recent local events,” said February. “I’m using the same board I won the Corona Durban Surf Pro on, so I have some confidence coming from that. I was just excited to get in the water and see how it goes and it went pretty well. It’s definitely a positive thing to have 3,000 points at stake. I’ve had a nice run this year but I need a bigger event to improve, so I’m amped to channel everything from the last events into this one.”

February will be joined by fellow South Africans Beyrick de Vries, Dylan Lightfoot and the wildcards in trying to ensure that the SA Open of Surfing title stays in the country, along with the bulk of the prize money and points.

The winner of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley will have his name engraved on the brand new John Whitmore Cup which has been named after the legendary surfing pioneer, founder and first chairman of the national controlling body in1965 (then known as the South African Surfing Association).

Whitmore’s whose association with Volkswagen saw him own the first Kombi made in South Africa and fittingly the trophy will be presented to the men’s winner by his daughter Chele, alongside Nico Fourie from Volkswagen and Ockie Fourie from Hurley

An outreach programme will be conducted at the event by Surfing South Africa (SSA) on the final day.  The initiative will involve twenty four surfers from Trafalgar on the KZN South Coast who recently lost all their equipment when their storage hut was set alight by arsonists.

These surfers will be joined by surfers from the Sisonke Surf Club in a Tag Team contest. Eight teams will surf in two semis and a final. The top four teams will be awarded gold, silver, bronze and copper medals.

All the action from the final day of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley can be followed via LIVE streaming on www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App starting from 8.30am.

The Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing is proudly supported by Hurley, Tsogo Sun, Durban Tourism, Skullcandy, El Jimador, Yesman, California Dreaming, World Surf League, Surfing South Africa and Accelerate Sport.

Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley
Women’s Final Results

  1. Zoe McDougall (Hawaii) 12.74                           R8,000            1,000 pts
  2. Lucy Callister (Australia) 11.60                          R4,000               750 pts
  3. Sophia Fulton (Australia) 11.54                         R2,500               560 pts
  4. Ariane Ochoa (Basque) 9.47                             R2,000               525 pts

Women’s Semifinal Results

SF1: Zoe McDougall (Hawaii) 15.84, Sophia Fulton (Australia) 12.13, Peony Knight (Great Britain) 7.36, Nagisa Tashiro (Japan) 6.26
SF2: Ariane Ochoa (Basque) 14.34, Lucy Callister (Australia) 10.50, Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay) 8.27, Reika Noro (Japan) 7.20

Caption:  Zoe McDougall (Hawaii) showered with Corona as she lifts the John Whitmore Cup that will bear her name twice after winning both the women’s and junior women’s titles at the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley in Durban on Saturday. • Photo: WSL / Thurtell

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world's best surfing since 1976, running in excess of 180 global events across the Men's and Women's Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport's rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men’s, Women’s across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world's best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Grant Baker, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

About Surfing South Africa

Surfing South Africa is recognised by the Department of Sport and Recreation as the national governing body for the sport. Surfing South Africa is a member of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

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