for Team South Africa
The South African squad had no reason to stop waving their flags at Huntington on Sunday. After being stuck just below the powerhouse teams of the U.S., Brazil and Australia all week they had a lot of work to do. As the finals began, South Africa planted their flag down in the wet sand along the water’s edge and wouldn’t pull it out until they had back to back first places in the finals.Kicking off the celebration was goofyfoot Longboarder Mathew Moore who flew through “Machado’s peak” at the south end of the area making impossible floaters on his 9’0.’’ Moore posted an 8.67 towards the end of the heat to pull ahead of the U.K.’s Benjamin Skinner, who had a hoard of pasty Brits in cheering frenzy throughout the final. Mathew Moore made his way in and found a frenzy rally cap wearing South African compatriots. Taking the water after Moore was Jordy Smith, hoping to keep the comeback alive.
Jordy surfed his heats the final
two days like he was at home with his friends. He was chucking multiple
airs on waves, pulling Supermans like they were cutbacks, and even
felt loose enough to try something experimental in the final, “I
saw someone do it in a video before,” Jordy explained of his
showboating maneuver in the final. “Everyone needed a big
score and I had only one wave left, so I just went for it.”
The maneuver was a basic floater, but while the regularfoot was
roof riding, he took his right foot and moved it up to the nose
of the board and back again. It looked like a circus high wire act
on the water, and would be the final wave the South African would
ride before being hoisted on his team’s shoulders. With two
arms raised, Jordy Smith made his way to the scaffolding under a
sea black, yellow, white, red, blue and green—the only six
colored national flag—arms raised, with a smile that only
a gold medal can bring. “It’s crazy to win a gold medal,
it’s something you always dream of,” said the newly
crowned World Surfing Champ.
An elated South African surfing team collected two gold medals, two bronze and a copper while finishing fourth out of 33 nations at the 2006 ISA World Surfing Games at Huntington Beach in California on Sunday.
Jordy Smith, 18, from Durban scored a sensational victory to clinch the men’s open gold medal, totally eclipsing a trio of experienced world tour veterans, while Capetonian Matthew Moir confirmed his status as the world’s best longboard surfer by taking gold in that discipline.
Rising international surf star Rosanne Hodge finished third behind two current world tour stars to clinch the bronze in the women’s surfing and the SA tag team finished third to the powerful Australian and Brazilian squads to collect the bronze in the ISA Nations Cup event.
In an extremely tight race, Australia successfully defended the IOC President’s Trophy and added their name to the Basil Lomberg Memorial as the top nation at the biennial event for a record eighth time. Brazil were the runners-up for the second time in succession followed by the host nation, USA, with South Africa receiving the copper medal for fourth place after an exceptional fight back when it appeared they would slip down to eighth or ninth earlier in the week.
However, it was Smith’s fairytale victory in the men’s open division that will go down in surfing folklore. Despite having won the U16 ISA world title in 2003 and the silver medal in the U18 division in Brazil in May, he was relegated to the do-or-die repecharge rounds on his first day of competition in California.
Fighting his way past a stream of world renowned surfing stars including 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood, his twin brother Damien and fellow WCT campaigners Chris Ward and Tom Whitaker, the 18 year-old Durbanite reached the Grand Final after 10 grueling rounds of competition, becoming the first to do this since 1992.
And in the final he simply blew his three opponents, Luke Stedman (Aus), Pat O’Connell (USA) and Armando Daltro (Brazil) – all over 30 and with years of WCT experience – right out of contention, blasting two trademark aerials on his third ride and then performing three vertical lip smashes in the most critical sections on his backhand later in the heat to leave all three combo’ed and unable to overtake him even with a perfect 10 point ride.
“I’d like to thank my mom and dad who are watching at home for all their support,” he started when interviewed on the live webcast after the final, “I’m really happy that I could do this for South Africa, my sponsors, all my friends and for myself,” he added humbly, appearing almost overwhelmed by the feat he had achieved.
By contrast Moir’s gold medal in the longboard division, the first ever won by a South African, was virtually preordained from the opening day of the “Olympics of Surfing” last Sunday when he served notice on his opponents by recording the highest scores of the day.
Thereafter the six time SA longboard champ from Kirstenhof in Cape Town did not put a foot wrong, winning all four rounds by record scores on his way to the Grand Final. Although he trailed Great Britain’s Ben Skinner for the early part of the heat, an 8.67 point ride, where he effortlessly combined vertical manoeuvres and a classic nose ride, gave him a lead that he never relinquished and a gold medal he will treasure.
“This is my first time on the team and I am so stoked,” commented an elated Moir, whose brother Gavin represented SA in longboard in the 2000 WSG, adding “I really focused for this event and I am just so honored to be here and win.”
Rosy Hodge, who like Moir had cruised to the qualifying final without a blemish, was given a wake-up call early on the last day when she placed third and was dispatched to the repecharge round. There she faced a daunting encounter against WCT stalwarts Julia Christian (USA) and Jessi Miley-Dyer along with fellow highly rated Aussie Nichola Atherton to become the first SA woman to reach WSG Grand Final since SA’s re-admittance to the ISA fold in 1994
The East Londoner showed the true grit and a big match temperament that will take her to the top of international women’s surfing in the future by holding the Aussie girls at bay to advance along with Christian. The American, who was runner-up in the last WSG in Ecuador in 2004, went on to clinch the gold medal in front of her home crowd, with Hodge,19, earning a well deserved bronze behind Jacqueline Silva (Brazil).
South Africa repeated their third place finish in Ecuador in 2004 in the ISA Nations Cup Trophy event, finishing behind defending champions Australia with Brazil taking the silver and surprise package Costa Rica earning the copper.
Contested by the top eight nations from the previous WSG, this event does not count towards the overall nation’s standings. However, the ‘tag team’ format requires efficient teamwork as the five representatives from each nation to compete one at a time with their best two rides out of a maximum three count and all rides have to be completed in an hour.
The colourful awards ceremony brought the nine-day gathering of surfing’s ‘tribes’, referred to as the ‘United Nations of Surfing’ by ISA President Fernando Aguerre, to an end with the popular SA team singing the National Anthem unaccompanied by music when Jordy Smith and Matthew Moir were presented with their gold medals.
Special medals were given to the entire judging staff, as well as the newly elected Vice Presidents of the ISA, including SSA’s Robin de Kock who was elected as a Senior Vice President of the organisation for a four year term.
Pirata, a disabled Brazilian surfer and figure of inspiration for all surfers, was presented an award for his great contributions to the sport and his tireless commitment despite his disability. Aguerre closed the highly lauded event by saying, “remember in life the only failure is when you give up on your dreams, everything else is a victory. Please remember never to give up on surfing.”
The ISA announced that the next ISA World Surfing Games will be hosted in Portugal in 2008.
2006 Lost Energy Drink ISA World Surfing Games
Huntington Beach, California, USA
ISA World Champion Nation
Place COUNTRY Points
1 Australia 15848
2 Brazil 15123
3 USA 14505
4 South Africa 13346
5 Hawaii 11022
6 France 10851
7 Portugal 10240
8 Costa Rica 9420
9 UK 9255
10 Tahiti 9041
11 Puerto Rico 8810
12 New Zealand 8540
13 Venezuela 8536
14 Peru 7618
15 Mexico 7477
16 Spain 6997
17 Japan 6467
18 Ecuador 5999
19 Ireland 5454
20 Italy 5330
21 Aruba 4909
22 Chile 4872
23 Switzerland 4386
24 Argentina 4140
25 Jamaica 3544
26 Guatemala 3432
27 Panama 3200
28 Germany 3186
MEN’S OPEN SURFING FINAL
1st Jordy Smith (ZAF)
2nd Luke Stedman (AUS)
3rd Pat O'Connell (USA)
4th Armando Daltro (BRA)
WOMEN’S SURFING FINAL
1st Julia Christian (USA)
2nd Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
3rd Rosanne Hodge (ZAF)
4th Courtney Conlogue (USA)
1st Matthew Moir (ZAF)
2nd Benjamin Skinner (UK)
3rd Harley Ingleby (AUS)
4th Bonga Perkins (HAW)