It was crunch time for a number of the competitors and many of the 32 nations participating in the 2002 Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Games as the event that attracts the most participants on a biennial basis completed its fifth day.
The closely spaced and wind affected head high waves on the three Durban beaches being used for the event created problems for even the most accomplished contestants, leading to a rash of upsets that dented the title aspirations of many of the favourites.
The kneeboard discipline was reduced to the last six and produced arguably the biggest shock when Gigs Celliers of the Quicksilver South Africa team, holder of a record four world titles, battled to complete any high scoring rides in the winner’ s stream final and was relegated to the repecharge final. The 36 year-old Durban local will need to finish in the top two there in order to qualify for the grand final from which the 2002 champion will emerge.
There are eight title hopefuls remaining in the women’ s bodyboarders, 10 still have chance of being crowned men’ s bodyboard champ and the longboarders have been cut to the final 12 where former champion Marcelo Freitas (Brz), Justin Redman (Aus), Jason Ribbink (SAfr) and Jonathan Larcher (France) remain undefeated.
The men’ s open surfing division produced inspired performances from Hira Teriinatoofa (Tah), Patrick Beven (Fra) and Hank Gaskell (Haw) that saw them advance to last eight in the winner’ s stream. They were joined by Mark Bannister (Aus), flashy Brazilians Bruno Moreira and Jihad Khodr, Zennor Wernham (NZ) and Travis Logie (SAfr), with the latter the last local in the winners stream after snatching second place in a tense last minute exchange of rides with Gustavo Fernandes (Brz).
The two previous champions bidding for a historic second title in this premier discipline, 1994 winner Sasha Stocker (Aus) and 1990 champ Heifara Tahutini (Tah), will both have to battle through several repecharge rounds in order to have their names etched in surfing’ s history books after they placed fourth in their respective heats today.
The first two junior (U/18) men’ s round four heats were dominated by locals Ricky Basnett and Daniel Redman, who continued their unbeaten run along with Brazilian Martins Bernarde, Travis Lynch (Aus), Kekoa Bacalso (Haw) and Jeremy Flores (Fra).
Almost half the original complement of competitors have bee eliminated from the event at this stage and the chase for the Basil Lomberg Memorial trophy, named after the former president of South African surfing and presented to the ISA world team champions, is starting to take shape.
At this stage the Hawaiian team has only had their three bodyboarders eliminated. Brazil, with their kneeboarder, a bodyboarder and an open men’ s member out of the running, and South Africa, which has lost both a men’ s and the women’ s bodyboarder plus one junior man, are neck and neck for second place, while very little separates France and Australia for fourth place after each lost three juniors and one other member.
The Gateway Theatre of Shopping, with its Wavehouse lifestyle centre that includes a Tony Hawk designed skate park and the incredible D-Rex double point Flowrider, is the venue for the Quiksilver Flow Show, to which the visiting international surfers have been invited.
The D-Rex is the world’ s biggest artificial wave with a million litres of water per minute being pushed up two foam covered concrete curves at 50 kph to shape the sheets of water into perpetual left and right breaking tubes at the planet’ s only man-made double point break.
The flowboarding event will feature the country’ s best surfers, wakeboarders and skaters, along with qualifiers from amongst the international participants. the qualifying rounds are being held on Thursday evening and the Flow Show runs on Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 8pm each day.
The Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Games, presented by the Gateway Theatre of Shopping and hosted by the City of Durban, continues until Sunday when the 2002 champions in the seven individual medal disciplines and the ISA world team champions will be crowned.
Results and pictures from the event are available at the official event website www.wsg2002.co.za