Raising the bar of women’s bodyboarding at the Walker Bay Pro

Raising the bar of women’s bodyboarding at the Walker Bay Pro

After a weekend that saw the South African coastline take a serious beating from a crazy 10 meter swell which combined with a spring hightide. This resulted in all beaches being closed for recreational activities and thus forced the Walker Bay Pro event organizers to put the event on hold for the first couple of days. The ocean finally calmed down enough on Tuesday to let the final leg of the IBC woman’s world tour get underway in solid 6 to 8 foot surf down at Onrus Beach.

Luna Hardman pre-heat meditation. Photo: Veraldo Terblanche Productions.

The first round hit the water at 8am to a backdrop of a perfect African sunrise. Being a non elimination round, it gave all the international riders a chance to familiarize themselves with the fresh new sandbanks that were deposited by the storm. 

The first round was a slow affair, the swell was still large and the wind wasn’t just right, providing what local surfers refer to as a morning sickness on the wave. This made getting into position tricky.

Round one highlights include Valentina Diaz striking early to take the first heat, beating Joana Schenker into second place. The newly crowned World Champ Sari Ohhara did not disappoint and had the crowd raising their voices on the beach for the first time with a fine display of power rolls off big sections. The current star of South African Women’s bodyboarding, Pamela Bowren brought her A-Game and it showed as she powered her way to victory over Brazilian Neymara Carvalho. 

Sari Ohhara, power roll for the win.  Photo: Veraldo Terblanche Productions.

By the time round two started, the wind and the tide came to the party. This saw the waves clean up and get more hollow over the freshly groomed sandbars. Round two was an elimination round. The top 4 riders advance to round three and unfortunately the rest are out of the competition.

The first heat of round two saw Brazil’s Luna Hardman and South Africa’s Tracy Delport advance and we sadly bid farewell to Viviana Araya and Joan Figueroa. Thank you so much for making the effort to come to South Africa. We hope to see you back here soon.

The second heat was a south vs south affair. South America vs South Africa. Brazil’s Clara Pontes and Chile’s Constanza Soto sent South Africans Lezandre Wolmarans and Anita Kannemeyer back to the drawing board. Better luck next year ladies. Thank you for playing.

Joana Schenker playing with the rule of thirds. Photo: Helgard

With news coming in from the South African Weather Bureau that the approaching storm was coming in faster than expected, the Walker Bay Pro decided to call the competition off after round 3. The wind had now grown in strength in a hard offshore wind which opened up the waves in the middle of the bay. 

Portugal’s Joana Schenker got revenge on her first round defeat to Valentina Diaz, beating her into second place and sending Constanza Soto out of the competition.

Sari Ohhara crossing the river. Photo: Veraldo Terblanche Productions.

The ladies were in fierce competition mode by now and Sari Ohhara was in top form, from rolling heavy sections on the right, to going full kamikaze on the left.  She showed the beach just why she was the new world champ. Not to be out done, Brazil’s Maylla Venturin took off on a monster wave and hit the biggest roll of today’s competition, earning the highest score of the day with an 8.50 for her efforts and thus secured her second place behind Sari her advancement into the quarterfinals. Sadly we bid farewell to Luna Hardman from Brazil, who fought hard, but just couldn’t find the backup score to advance.

Pam Bowren on a froth monster flying through her heats. Photo: Veraldo Terblanche Productions.

Pam Bowren continued her winning streak in this competition over the five time world champion, Neymara Carvalho from Brazil. A little local knowledge proved to be her secret weapon as she searched out the best waves of the heat. Clara Pontes couldn’t find the waves she wanted and thus booked her ticket back to Brazil.

With the wind starting to hit gale force, the final heat of the day entered the water. Maira Viana dominated the heat, beating a determined Teresa Miranda. Tracy Delport ended her campaign and can return to Durban with the knowledge that she improved on the result she got in Sintra.

And as the next storm rolls into Walker Bay, the contest will go on hold till it passes. The ladies quarter finals could possibly go ahead either Friday or Saturday and it’s going to be down to the wire to decide the final seeding for the year.

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