The Malherbe brothers, David and Andre, plus Gary van Wieringen gave superb performances yesterday for Team SA that is still in contention for a multiple medal haul from the 2011 El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championships – ending tomorrow evening (South African time).
In cloudy weather and smaller but well lined up 0.5 to 1.0 metre waves at Punta Roca, van Wieringen (Warner Beach) in the Men’s Masters and David Malherbe (Coffee Bay) in the Kahunas swept into the last four of their respective divisions. They are now just one heat away from a place in the Grand Final and a gold, silver, bronze or copper medal.
After dropping into the gruelling repecharge rounds on Thursday, Andre Malherbe (East London) won both his heats yesterday and has now advanced to the last 12 in the Grand Masters (Over 40) division. This younger Malherbe still needs to finish first or second in three more heats to qualify for the chance to earn another medal.
Kevin O’Brien (East London), who placed third in his Grand Masters qualifying Round 3 heat and Colin Buitendag (George), fourth in Kahunas qualifying Round 3, both dropped into the cutthroat repecharge rounds.
Meanwhile Graeme Field (Kommetjie) was the first SA team member to be eliminated from the event when he slipped to fourth place in his Men’s Masters repecharge Round 3 heat yesterday. Field ended the event in equal 15th place in the Masters and earned 850 points towards the team total.
TheUSis the only team without any of its eight team members ousted from the contest.Brazilis second in the provisional standings with just their Women’s Masters surfer relegated to the sidelines while defending team championsAustralia, two-time championSouth Africaand newcomersHawaiioccupy equal third position, each with one male surfer eliminated.
Of the 20 surfers still in the qualifying stream, four are from each of US,Hawaii,BrazilandSouth AfricawhileAustraliaand Puerto Rio have two each.
Today’s action inEl Salvadorstarts at 4pm SA time and features the final qualifying stream heat in each of five divisions. The repecharge Round 3, 4 and 5 heats will narrow the field down to six surfers in each division going into tomorrow’s final day.
The conditions are expected to be good but predictions are that the waves will be slightly smaller than yesterday and the swell will only get bigger tomorrow afternoon.
Van Wieringen will be the first South African in the surf in the Men’s Masters where he takes on former ASP World Tour competitors Ross Williams and fellow Hawaiian Davey Gonsalves plus Jojo de Olivença fromBrazil. The top two will advance directly to the Grand Final while the third and fourth placed surfers get another chance in the final repecharge heat.
Next up for Team SA is David Malherbe who is up against former three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren, fellowUSteam member Jim Hogan andSunsetBeachstandout Mike Latronic fromHawaiiin the Kahunas division.
SA’s Chris Knutsen is pitted against fellow Grand Kahunas competitors Alan Sarlo (USA), Nick Pearson (AUS) and Jorge Gorbea (PUR) as the Durbanite bids for a fourth gold medal in as many ISA World Masters events.
The ‘Queen of SA surfing’, Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) will duel it out with former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS), Melissa Proud (HAW) and Andrea Lopez (BRA) for the opportunity to reach the Women’s Masters Grand Final and add to the gold medals she has pocketed at the last two events.
The schedule for today is: (SA surfers in brackets)
Qualify Round 4 Masters (Gary van Wieringen)
Qualify Round 4 Grand Masters
Qualify Round 4 Kahunas (David Malherbe)
Qualify Round 3 Grand Kahunas (Chris Knutsen)
Qualify Round 3 Women Masters (Heather Clark)
Repecharge Round 4 Masters
Repecharge Round 4 Grand Masters (Andre Malherbe & Kevin O’Brien)
Repecharge Round 4 Kahunas (Colin Buitendag)
Repecharge Round 3 Women Masters
Repecharge Round 3 Grand Kahunas
Repecharge Round 5 Masters
Repecharge Round 5 Grand Masters
Repecharge Round 5 Kahunas
The El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championships runs until tomorrow. Final results will poted on St Francis Chronicle Daily News Online on Monday.
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