All four of the South African Team of male surfers crashed out of the inaugural ISA China Cup in a disastrous opening day at Riyue Bay on Hainan Island in China today.
Hopes are now on the ladies as Nikita Robb and Sarah Baum will now fly the flag for the South African surfing team.
Greg Emslie, Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and Roydon Bryson were all placed third in their respective Round 2 heats. They were eliminated from the event in equal 17th place overall. This has been described as one of Team SA’s most disappointing days of international competition in recent history.
Surfing action got underway at 8am in clean offshore one metre waves in the historic first ISA contest to be staged in the world’s most populous nation.
Seeded seventh of the eight teams, the South Africans were pitted against competitors from Brazil, France and Venezuela in Round 1. Team captain Greg Emslie (East London) secured a comfortable second place result in his opening encounter to advance to Round 2 of the Qualifying stream in the double elimination format.
In the next heat Team SA suffered its first setback when Brandon Jackson (Durban North) could not find the 4.74 point ride (out of a possible 10) he required for second position and was relegated to the Repercharge rounds.
Royden Bryson (Cape Town), one of the standouts in the practice sessions in the long left-breaking waves atRiyueBay, restored the optimism in the SA camp by winning his heat. The goofy-foot waited patiently for the best waves, only catching three rides in the 25 minute match-up, to post counting scores of 6.57 and 7.10 to leave runner-up Bruno Gallini (BRA) needing a 7.57 for victory.
Brilliant surfing by Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), who posted rides of 8.83 and 6.33, and Charles Martin (FRA), who bagged a pair of seven point rides, left SA’s Dale Staples requiring a massive 8.24 to advance and the 21 year-old from St Francis Bay placed third and joined Jackson in the Repercharge stream.
The SA pair were soon joined there by Emslie, who slumped to fourth place in his Qualifying Round 2 heat, and Bryson who placed third in his Round 2 duel.
And the situation became worse when Jackson was bundled out of the event, placing fourth in his Repercharge Round 1 heat to finish his participation in the event in equal last place. Once again there was respite for the beleaguered SA team as Staples posted a 5.50 point ride in the dying minutes to snatch victory in his heat and advance to Repercharge Round 2.
The only bright spot for the team on Day 1 came from performance of the girls. Nikita Robb (Cape Town) placed second and Sarah Baum (AthlonePark) racked up a comprehensive heat victory as they both moved into Round 2 of the Women’s Qualifying stream.
South Africa, with all four men eliminated from the event, ended the opening day of the ISA China Cup in sixth place in the provisional team standings. Australia and France head the rankings with all six team members still in contention.
Braziland reigning ISA team champions Peru each had one member ousted. TheUShas two members sidelined whileArgentinaandVenezuelacurrently occupy seventh and eighth places respectively.
Day 2 of the event will get underway at 8 am (2 am SA time) tomorrow with the Women’s Qualifying Round 2 heats featuring Robb and Baum scheduled for two hours after the start. At approximately 7 am SA time Team SA will be looking to make amends in the semi finals – and hopefully the final of the ISA Aloha Cup event where a squad of five surfers from each nation compete in a form of relay surfing competition.
Immediately after that action-packed, one-of-a-kind event, there will be a memorial paddle out for the late Sean Collins, the founder of Surfline.com, which is the official forecaster for the Festival.
The ISA China Cup runs until Tuesday 10 January when the individual and team gold, silver, bronze and copper medals will be presented.
See updated article on ISA China Cup:
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