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Surfing | Scintillating Opening Day For Rip Curl GromSearch Port Alfred presented by Royal St Andrews Hotel

Rip Curl surfer Ben Esterhuyse on fire at the Rip Curl GromSearch Port Alfred @ Louis Wulff

Epic waves and red-hot surfing encapsulated the opening day of surfing at East Beach for the Rip Curl GromSearch Port Alfred, a junior Surfing South Africa surfing tournament presented by Royal St Andrews Hotel and supported by Sea Harvest. Today, we also saw the start of the Port Alfred Easter Festival, a multi-sports and cultural Festival based around the Kowie River, where surfing competitions are anchor events.

To set the scene, we saw a gathering of the country's top surfers at the Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred last night.

Justin Bekker, the owner of the Royal St Andrews Hotel, welcomed surfers and visitors to the Port Alfred Easter Festival before Surfing South Africa Vice President Anne Wright spoke about the contests and thanked everyone for attending. The Kowie Boardriders Chair, Mickey Witthuhn, also had some words of encouragement for the young surfers before thanking everyone for coming to Port Alfred for the surfing and the local festival.

The event started with the U12 Boys Quarterfinals, and perfect waves were reeling through at East Beach for the youngest competitors in the tournament. Three-foot and highly contestable, the waves were conducive to some dynamic performances, with Levi Vosloo (DBN), Slayde Shooter (SFB) and Chase Pieret (CT) all winning their heats.

"The waves were really fun out there," said natural-footer (left foot forward) Slayde. "I was a little bit nervous initially, but I got a few nice waves." Slayde's heat included a very good 7.17 ride for one blistering right-hander that peeled all the way across the East Beach break.

Slayde Shooter (CSF) © Louis Wulff

In the U14 Boys Division, Ben Esterhuyse was on fire and was rewarded with a 17.33 (out of 20) heat total for two outstanding waves. The Rip Curl GromSearch will culminate on Sunday when the U12, U14, and U18 Girls and Boys division Finals take place. The Rip Curl GromSearch Premier U16 division finals will take place Monday during the Rip Curl Cup.

The U14 Girls saw Camilla Heuer (EL), Leah Lepront (Scottburgh) and Jasmine Venter (JBay) emerge victorious.

In the U16 Boys Round, Rory Dace (CSF) was the highest point scorer, banking a credible 15.27 points, including an excellent 9-point ride.

The top surfers in the U18 Boys included Luc Lepront (Scottburgh), who scored 14.57, Loghann Tilsley (Strand), who scored 13.33, and Kai Hall from Durban, who banked a heat score of 12.67 and the win.

The Rip Curl GromSearch continues tomorrow with a 7:30 call time at East Beach.

Surfing, Rip Curl GromSearch, Port Alfred Easter Festival

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