South Africa emerged triumphant at the 2002 Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Games at North Beach in Durban today (Sunday), claiming the prestigious IOC President’s Trophy for the first time since re-admittance to the ISA fold in 1992 and 24 years since the country’s only previous victory in East London in 1978.
South Africans also claimed the titles in the two biggest disciplines contested at the event when North Beach locals Travis Logie and Warwick Wright earned career best accolades by capturing the gold medals in the open and junior (U/18) men’s surfing respectively, results that contributed handsomely to the team’s victory.
The Quiksilver SA team, comprising 15 wave-riders in seven disciplines, accumulated 27 266 points in winning the 2002 ISA world champion team award, almost 4 000 points ahead of runners-up Australia with defending champions Brazil only 190 points further back in third place this year.
Both Australia and Brazil matched South Africa’s two gold medals. The Aussies’ pair came in the women’s surfing through Chelsea Georgeson and Kyle Bryant in the kneeboard while the Brazilians earned theirs through Neimara Carvalho in the women’s bodyboard and Marcelo Freitas in longboard, with the men’s bodyboard gold going to Nicholas Capdeville from France.
The crowds that flocked to North Beach for the finals of the nine day ‘Olympics’ of surfing were treated to world class performances in the excellent overhead waves that poured through all day. The highlight was a near perfect 9.87 point ride by junior men’s runner-up Ricky Basnett (SAfr) who performed one radical manoeuvre after another on a wave that broke from outside the pier right across the bay.
The men’s open final produced a tension filled finale when eventual runner-up Mark Bannister (Aus), needing just 3.27 points to snatch the title in the last two minutes, took off on a wave that closed out in front of him. In a title winning move, Logie caught the wave further down the line, carved off the bottom and smashed into the lip, free-falling six foot back down the face of the wave for 6.67 points, which extended his lead to 5.55 points.
The final countdown came with Bannister desperately seeking a final wave as the hometown supporters waited with bated breath, bursting into a cacophony of wild cheering and backslapping as the siren to end the heat sounded. The highly impressive Brazilian duo of Jihad Khodr and Bruno Moreira both lacked a decent fourth score and earned bronze and copper medals respectively.
Wright, having had all his hair shaved off by his teammates when he was relegated to the repecharge rounds earlier in the week, battled his way through a further seven heats, finishing second in most of them, to reach the final. He and Brazilian 15 year-old future star, Adriano de Souza, joined Basnett and Travis Lynch (Aus), who had qualified via six heat victories in the winner’s stream, in the grand final.
‘Wok’, as he known to his peers, caught and rode five waves in the 30 minute decider to amass 23.86 points for his best four scores, 1.32 points more than Basnett who could not find any high scoring rides to accompany his 9.87. De Souza finished third despite an interference call that saw only his best three rides being counted and Lynch, a standout in every heat he contested up to the final, placed fourth.
The Australian girls Georgeson and Prue Jeffries dominated the women’s grand final, swapping the lead on several occasions before the rookie pro’s final ride sealed her victory. Heather Clark (SAfr) needed a 6.07 ride at the end while Marie Pierre Abgraal (France) required a combination of rides for 13.95 points and had to settle for copper.
Capdeville, the 1992 men’s bodyboard champ, was never headed in the grand final, finishing comfortably ahead of runner-up Emiliano Tabare who earned Argentina’s first ever world surfing games medal, presented with elation by ISA president Fernando Aguerre, who whipped of his sweater to reveal an Argentinean soccer jersey to perform the award. Philip Rodrigues (SAfr) and Uri Valadao took third and fourth respectively.
The awards ceremony for all seven individual medal disciplines, including the longboard, kneeboard and women’s bodyboard that were decided yesterday, took place on the podium on North Beach amid emotional and touching displays of patriotism and delight. The South African team broke into a spontaneous version of Shosholoza and a heartfelt, if off key, rendition of the national anthem, the champagne was sprayed and the host country is the king of the surfing world for the next two years!
The 2002 Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Games was presented by the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, home of the Wavehouse, Durban’s premier social and entertainment complex and home to the D-Rex flowrider – the world’s biggest man-made wave. The event was hosted by the City of Durban, whose faith in and support of the event paid off handsomely in the form of the glowing tributes the event and city garnered from the more than 500 participants from 32 countries who attended the 19th edition of the world’s biggest biennial surfing event.