National junior champs crowned

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2021 U18 Girls champion Zoe Steyn of Buffalo City Surfriders celebrates her fourth Junior title.    Photo:Kody McGregor
2021 U18 Girls champion Zoe Steyn of Buffalo City Surfriders celebrates her fourth Junior title. Photo:Kody McGregor

FINALS Day on Tuesday at the 2021 Sea Harvest SA Junior Surfing Championships, presented by SMTH Shapes, delivered testing two- to three-foot light onshore conditions for finalists to demonstrate the surfing abilities they have been honing over the past two years.

In a close battle between Cape Town Surfriders and Buffalo City, the prestigious Freedom Cup went to Cape Town Surfriders, for amassing the most collective points across all divisions throughout the week.

Cape Town Surfriders have reclaimed the award after losing it to Buffalo City in 2019.

In the premiere U/18 girls’ division, Zoe Steyn (Buffalo City) displayed unwavering confidence in the small, fragmented onshore waves, putting her fierce backhand attack through its paces to claim victory with an 11.93 (6.25 + 5.68) heat score total.

The win marks the fourth junior title of the young woman’s career.

For the U/18 boys’ section, Mitch du Preez (Buffalo City) built on his performances in every heat surfed throughout the contest.

His consistency paid off in the final, where his explosive, exceptionally vertical backhand turns earned him a 13.88 (6.75 + 7.13) heat score total and the prestigious U/18 boys’ division title.

Du Preez will cherish this title, after coming in at a close second place in both 2018 and 2019.

Sarah Scott (Cape Town Surfriders) held on to her winning streak, taking out every heat surfed in the contest, all the way through to the final.

Her slicing carves and powerful surfing in the crumbly conditions of the final left no inkling of doubt that she was much deserving of the prestigious U/16 girls’ division title. The win marks Scott’s third junior title, after U/12 and U/14 girls’ division wins in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

As conditions deteriorated throughout the day, Connor Slijpen (Cape Town Surfriders) demonstrated his nimbleness in challenging small onshore waves in the U/16 boys’ final, generating ample speed and powerful turns; a testimony to his well-rounded surfing abilities.

His performance was rewarded with a 12.18 (6.38 + 5.8) heat score total and an U/16 boys’ division title.

After winning their respective semi-finals, Louise Lepront (Ugu Surfriders) and Anastasia Venter (Cape Winelands Surfriders) were neck-and-neck in the U/14 girls’ final, putting on a spectacular show.

A combination of choice waves, beautiful forehand wraps and critical snaps propelled Venter to a significant win, with a heat score total of 14.23 points, making her the 2021 U/14 girls’ surfing champion. This is the young talent’s second junior title, after winning the U/12 girls’ division in 2019.

In an impressively confident performance, Josh Malherbe (Buffalo City) delivered vertical turns and exciting combinations of manoeuvres to claim the U/14 boys’ division title.

In the U/12 girls’ final, Cape Town Surfriders’ Emily Jenkinson adeptly navigated the bumpy onshore conditions, working in long rides and multiple turns to claim the division title.

In tricky onshore conditions, Ben Esterhuyse (Cape Town Surfriders) went straight down to business with a remarkably confident backhand attack, backing up a 5.00 with a 6.5 point score to earn a decided win and the U/12 boys’ division title.

For delivering the most consistently impressive surfing performances throughout the contest, Ben Esterhuyse (U/12 boys, Cape Town Surfriders) and Louise Lepront (U/14 girls, Ugu Surfriders) received the surfer of the contest awards.

The Ilembe team were awarded the Loud & Proud award for the dynamic and uninterrupted support of their fellow team members on the beach.

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