The South African junior surfing team finished in ninth place out of the 31 nations that competed in the 2012 DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
The championships, presented by Billabon, ended in Panama yesterday with the Hawaiian team claiming the IOC President’s Trophy and the team gold medal.
Going into the final day without any surfers still in contention for the first time in the 10 year history of the event, Team SA needed Portuguese surfer Vasco Ribeiro to be eliminated before the U18 Boys final in order to finish eighth and qualify to compete in the prestigious ISA China Cup in China in January.
But despite losing out in the last round of Qualifying heats, Ribeiro clinched a place in the final with a solid runner-up performance in the last Repercharge round. He went on to claim the bronze medal and 730 points for third place overall in the division, which saw Portugal accumulate a total of 3 353 points, just 78 ahead of SA’s 3 275.
Team Hawaii dominated the final day of competition, earning a total of five individual medals, including gold for Kalani David in the U16 boys and for Dax McGill in the U18 Girls, along with their team gold for winning the event for the first time since 2005.
The powerful Australian squad were the team runners-up with two individual medals while Brazil, whose Matheus Navarro and Deivid Silva finished first and second in the U18 Boys division, ended just 120 points behind in third place overall.
The USA finished fourth followed by Japan, whose Takumi Nakamura took the silver medal in the U16 Boys, and France with defending team champions Peru placing seventh this year and Portugal in eighth.
Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) fared the best of the SA contingent by finishing equal ninth in the U18 Boys division. Benji Brand (Kommetjie) ended equal 13th in the U16 Boys while team captain Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) was the best of SA’s U18 girls in equal 19th place.
Team SA included a total of seven new caps, all of whom will have learned plenty about international competition while in Panama, and was managed by Isaac February (Kommetjie) and coached by Llewellyn Whittaker (Mossel Bay), Quintin Jones (Durban) and Josh Salie (Muizenberg).
Amongst the dignitaries who attended the final day of the event were the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, who watched proceedings from the judges tower and even spoke on the live webcast in both English and Spanish, along with the Minister of Tourism, Salomon Shamah, and the country’s Minister of Government, Ricardo Fabrega.
The world’s largest junior surfing event featured 301 surfers from 31 countries and was brought to a close by ISA President Fernando Aguerre.
“Surfing and the ISA love Panama. I want to thank the organizers of the event, Tuti de León and Patrick Castagnet. They have organized three wonderful events for the ISA in 20 months. [President Martinelli] has confirmed that he wants us back next year with one of the ISA major events, so we may meet each other again,” Aguerre said.
“Thank you so much everybody and I want to leave by saying something really important: some of you are going back home with a medal and others not, but each one of you are champions and this experience will remain in your hearts for the rest of your life.”
Playa Venao, Panama Final results
Girls Under-18 Final
Gold: Dax McGill (HAW) – 12.60
Silver: Ellie Jean Coffey (AUS) – 9.20
Bronze: Tatiana W-Webb (HAW) – 8.53
Copper: Mahina Maeda (HAW) – 8.24
=19th: Sarah Baum (Athlone Park)
=22nd: Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay)
=49th: Nicole Pallet (Durban)
=61st: Chanelle Botha (Warner Beach)
Boys Under-16 Final
Gold: Kalani David (HAW) – 13.50
Silver: Takumi Nakamura (JPN) – 13.40
Bronze: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRC) – 11.34
Copper: Josh Moniz (HAW) – 11.17
=13th: Benji Brand (Kommetjie)
=21st: Max Armstrong (Scarborough)
=29th: Steffen Burrows (Stellenbosch)
=33rd: Matt McGillivray (Port Elizabeth)
Boys Under-18 Final
Gold: Matheus Navarro (BRA) – 16.93
Silver: Deivid Silva (BRA) – 16.83
Bronze: Vasco Ribeiro (POR) – 11.77
Copper: Joshua Hay (AUS) – 11.37
=9th: Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay)
=29th: Slade Prestwich (Durban)
=33rd: Joshua Smit (Durban)
=65th: Mikey Venter (Warner Beach)
Final ISA World Juniors Team Ranking
9. South Africa
10. New Zealand
11. Costa Rica
14. Great Britain
22. Puerto Rico
23. El Salvador