Caption: Jordan Lawler (Australia) and Minami Nonaka (Japan) were crowned the Men’s and Women’s champions at the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill at Big Bay on Sunday 
Photo: WSL / Thurtell

Jordan Lawler (Australia) and Minami Nonaka (Japan) captured the prestigious World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Men’s and Women’s titles respectively in the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill which ended in small but contestable 0.5 to 1.0 metre waves at Big Bay in Bloubergstrand on Sunday. 

Lawler played a patient game at the start of the Men’s final, but he fell behind his three South African opponents so he decided to get busy and it paid off. First he added a 7.0 to an earlier 6.0 to overtake Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) who had led the 25 minute encounter from the outset.

Shortly thereafter the Australian caught a wave that reformed on the inside and, surfing to the judging criteria, he performed several manoeuvres with speed, power and flow to be rewarded with an 8.25, the only score in the excellent range (8 points or more out of 10) and the highest score of the final.

His two wave heat tally of 15.25 left Adin Masencamp (Strand) needing a near-perfect 9.25 for victory, while McGillivray and Chad du Toit (Durban) each needed to replace both their counting rides as the clock wound down.

“I’m so stoked! It has been a while since I won a QS and I am over the moon,” said Lawler who has been in South Africa since the opening event of the WSL Africa Qualifying Series at the end of March. He has accumulated several good results, including a runner-up finish in Port Alfred, but this is his first QS victory since 2014 in Australia.

“I really love it here so much, every South African I have met is just the coolest guy ever and everybody is so nice. It definitely plays a role in my surfing over here,” he added.

The diminutive Nonaka is just 16 but posted the highest heat total, 15.50 points out of 20, in the women’s opening round held in pounding overhead surf at Melkbosstrand on Friday. Although she was eliminated in the semi-finals of the Junior Women’s event on Saturday, she kept advancing in the women’s event and went on to clinch her first QS victory. 

She defeated two of South Africa’s top female talents, multiple event winner Sarah Baum (Durban) and reigning WSL Africa Women’s Champion Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), as well as local rising star Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga) in a hard fought final.

Baum dominated the early exchanges of the matchup with a pair of six-point rides, consistently making the connection to the inside section and displaying great wave selection. But the petite Japanese girl found a runner that she worked over nearly all the way to the beach for a confidence-boosting 7.75 and then slammed the door on her rivals with a 6.50 in the dying minutes of the encounter.

“I just wanted to catch the best waves I could during the final,” said Nonaka through a translator. “I was in second place when I picked the best wave and got the 7.75 and that gave me the confidence to find the 6.5 at the end that gave me the win.”

Baum had to settle for second spot while Pallet and Nogueira took third and fourth respectively.

The next event, the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley, starts in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and features a QS 3,000 Women’s event, a QS 1,500 Men’s event, Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 Men’s and Women’s events for surfers 18-and-under, and Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) events for Men and Women.

Full results, photos and video footage for the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill will be available on www.WorldSurfLeague.com  and on the WSL App, with highlights on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill – QS 1,000 Men’s Final Results

  1. Jordan Lawler (Australia) 15.25 points
  2. Adin Masencamp (Strand) 11.85
  3. Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) 9.50
  4. Chad du Toit (Durban) 9.25

Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill – QS 1,000 Women’s Final Results

  1. Minami Nonaka (Japan) 14.255 points
  2. Sarah Baum (Durban) 13.0
  3. Nicole Pallet (La Lucia) 8.35
  4. Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga) 7.30