Eastern Cape surfers take off at Billabong Junior Series event

SEVERAL Eastern Cape surfers excelled in the Billabong Junior Series at Mossel Bay at the weekend, with Emma Smith, Matthew McGillivray and Dylan Lightfoot all taking their category titles.

In the U20 ASP Pro junior women's event, highly rated Jeffreys Bay surfer Smith got busy from the start with some high-scoring waves and held on to her lead throughout the final.

She finished in front of Chanelle Botha (Warner Beach) and Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay).

By the time the premier U20 junior men took to the water, the conditions had become challenging, with the onshore wind ruffling the wave surfaces and making them difficult to ride.

The final was between Diran Zakarian and Lightfoot, with both surfers choosing different approaches to the conditions and the heat.

Jeffreys Bay's Lightfoot chose to wait for the good looking waves, only catching three waves in the final, while Zakarian took off on many waves and went for big moves on every one, making a few and wiping out on a few as well.

In the end it was Lightfoot's approach that saw him walk away victorious with his coveted first win in the series. "The waves were a lot harder than what they looked," he said. "There was a lot of chop on them, and the big ones were no good.

"I was looking for the middle waves, the ones that had more potential across the inside.

"I'm just so stoked with my first win of the year, and I am looking forward to the upcoming contest season.

"This has been an amazing event, and the waves have been so much fun throughout."

Many people had touted Jeffreys Bay surfer McGillivray to win the U18 boys division from the start and he did not disappoint.

McGillivray put on a polished display and finished off with a massive forehand air manoeuvre that was awarded a 7.6 point score out of a possible 10 for a single move.

That score helped him into first place, ahead of Benji Brand (Cape Town) and Richard Kidd of Durban.

"I was just so stoked to land that thing," McGillivray said of the high-scoring air move. "It has been great having a contest here in Mossel Bay, and I felt good with my fitness and with my equipment.

"The local people have also been very nice and friendly and I have had a good time here."

Chanelle Botha dominated the U18 girls throughout the final day, eventually sealing the deal with an emphatic win in the final heat. She beat Jade Story (Durban) into second and Britney Linder (Port Elizabeth) into third.

The BOS surfer of the contest went to McGillivray, who pulled off two of the biggest and most critical air moves of the entire event.

Lightfoot got the highest heat score of the event, and won the Nixon WTA Award of a Nixon Supertide watch for his efforts. His score was 16.5 out of a possible 20 points.