Great waves set scene for Billabong Pro Junior

Mikey Venter in action at the Billabong Pro Junior

Clean waves and offshore winds persisted throughout the opening day of the Billabong Pro Junior at Seal Point, Cape St Francis today, giving the competitors a perfect, high performance canvas to showcase all their moves.

Some surfers went for speed and powerful carves, while others attempted big aerial maneuvers in a bid to impress the judges.

Mikey February was one surfer who mixed it up, performing high speed rail turns, floaters and big re-entries to make an impression on the judges with his repertoire of moves. February is currently ranked third in the ASP Africa Pro Junior Series men’s rankings.

“It was really fun out there,” said February. “The best waves were further down the point, and I managed to get a few nice ones.”

Mikey found some great waves towards the end of his heat to advance behind Max Armstrong (CPT). “It was a bit inconsistent out there for my heat,” said Venter, “Eventually I got a couple and found a bit of a rhythm out there.”

The conditions continued to pulse all day, with the late afternoon heats getting the best waves of the day. “We’re stoked with the conditions today,” said Billabong South Africa marketing manager Chad D’Arcy. “It looks like a bit of a wild day tomorrow with some strong wind predicted, but we’re hoping for a great finish on Sunday, with some good waves on the forecast.”

The Billabong Pro Junior will decide which of the country’s top junior surfers will qualify for the ASP World Junior Surfing Championships  to be held in Bali at the beginning of October.

Comprising ASP One-Star rated contests for men and women, the Billabong Pro Junior runs from Friday until Sunday (31 August – 2 September) and offers US $5 000 (approx. R42 000) in prize-money with $2 000 plus 250 ranking points going to the winner of the men’s event and the women’s winner receiving $1 000 of the total $2 000 prize-purse.

Slade Prestwich (Scottburgh) leads the men’s rankings after winning the first event in the ASP Africa Pro Junior Series in April. Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) is second with David van Zyl (Glenashley) and Michael February (Kommetjie) equal third and Remi Peterson, Jarred Veldhuis, Regard Smit and Davey Brand are equal fifth in the standings.

The coveted invitations to the ASP World Junior Championships go to the top two ASP Africa members on the ASP World Rankings plus the top three in the ASP Africa yearend standings.

De Vries and February have already secured the two ASP World Rankings slots. While de Vries is in Europe competing in ASP Star Series events, along with van Zyl and Peterson, February will be competing at the Billabong Pro Junior. If he goes on to secure a place in the top three in the ASP Africa rankings then the next highest ranked ASP Africa surfer will qualify for Bali.

The Billabong Pro Junior women’s event is a one-off qualifier with the top two finishers awarded invitations to the ASP World Junior Champs. Bianca Buitendag (George) and Sarah Baum (Durban), currently ranked No’s 5 and 10 on the ASP Women’s World rankings, are the favorites to clinch their places at Cape St Francis this weekend.

The ASP World Junior Championships provides the opportunity to kick-start the professional surfing career of aspiring surfers as, along with the prestige and a prize-purse of $100 000 for men and $30 000 for women, the top finishers receive preferential seeding into the major ASP Prime and Star rated events in the following year.

The top four placed men are guaranteed entry into the Round of 96 in all Prime and 6-Star rated events while those finishing fifth to eighth are seeded into the first round of all 6-Star rated contests.

Mikey February in action

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