After a week where the Cape Of Storms lived up to its name in terms of pumping wind, driving rain and flood caused by crazy storm surges, there were rays of sunshine that broke through the dark clouds to provide windows of opportunity to run the final leg of the IBC Women’s world tour.
With the long weekend in South Africa looming (Monday is a South African public holiday), it was decided to run ladies quarter finals early on friday morning, before the wind swung onshore, the semi finals and finals were scheduled to take place the next day as the swell charts predicted epic waves for the finals day.
First to hit the water was the Portuguese powerhouse, Joana Schenker, who took on Brazilian Maylla Venturin, who has been in fine form the entire contest. After trading rolls and spins, it was Joana who emerged victorious and advanced into the semi finals. Thank you Maylla for your participation, your energy and smile is pure passion, we hope to see you back in South Africa soon.
South Africans love Sari Ohhara, which could be seen by how many people made it down to the beach, just to cheer for the new world champ as she hit the water for quarter final number two. Sari was up against Chilean big wave charger Valentina Diaz. The shifting peak seemed to suit Sari’s style of attack as she soon clocked up the highest heat total of the ladies so far in this competition, beating Valentina with two scoring rides in the excellent range to advance into the semi finals.
The third quarter final was the showdown for the final 8th seeding position on next year’s world tour. The battle lines were drawn between local favorite, Pamela Bowren and Teresa Miranda from the Canary Island. As the last South African lady left standing in the Walker Bay Pro, Pam put it all on the line, but in the end it was just not enough to beat Teresa who eventually took the win by 0.15 of a point.
The last quarter final was an all Brazilian affair. The 5 times world champ, Neymara Carvalho took on fellow Brazilian Maira Viana. Neymara’s strategy of waiting for the bombs did not pay off, with Maira sneaking all the high scoring waves under priority to secure her win and a trip to the semi finals.
With the onshore building in strength, and conditions deteriorating rapidly, competition was called off for the day and set to resume early the following morning, making the most of the window before another massive cold front slammed into the western Cape.
Saturday dawned cold and very wet, the front arrived early, but the show must go on. Rain jackets we grabbed and event photographers scrambled for any dry vantage point they could find. The Athletes zone became prime real estate for everyone from spectators, to crew and even the local dogs. This created an amazing vibe under the stretch tent as groms were given free access to autographs and the riders got to experience the passion of a South African crowd that was loving the event.
In driving rain, the first heat of the semi finals hit the water with Sari Ohhara from Japan taking on Joana Schenker from Portugal. Just like she has done the entire contest Sari put on a display of power surfing, landing the first excellent ride of the morning. Joana however played it safe, finding medium scoring rides and built a solid foundation. Sari was unable to find a decent back up ride to her 8 and when the buzzer sounded it was Joana who took the win by just 0.75.
Semi final number two hit the water as a break in the rain caused a rainbow to extend from ocean to mountain. Teresa Miranda from the Canary Islands was pitted against Brazilian Maira Viana. With next years seeding all wrapped up with her win against Pam in the quarter finals, Teresa entered the water more relaxed than she had been the whole week as the pressure to qualify for next year was off her shoulders and it showed as she treated the heat like a free surf, catching plenty of waves and finding the bombs under priority to grab the win with a 1.65 points difference.
And with that, the Walker Bay Pro had their ladies finalist. The Canary Islands vs Portugal. Teresa Miranda vs Joana Schenker.
With no rest from the cold front, the ladies hit the water as rain and wind wreaked havoc with umbrellas, gazebos and the live streaming crews equipment. Electronics and water do not mix well. This however failed to dampen the crowds spirit who maintained their attendance despite most being soaked to the bone.
Teresa maintained her cool and calm, almost laid back approach, calmly waiting for whatever the ocean threw at her, Joana kept busy hunting between the peaks. Soon Teresa had banked a 6 point ride and backed it up with a 4.75. Joana, despite her best efforts could not find a workable peak and had to settle for a couple of 3’s and second place. And with that The Walker Bay Pro had a new champion, well done Teresa Miranda, well played and well deserved.
With the weather killing off any chance of an awards ceremony on the beach, the entire event moved itself into MILK ON THE BEACH for a dry yet intimate awards ceremony where all the finalists were presented with flower crowns, their winners cheques, loud cheers and the love of the South African sports loving public.
The small town of Onrus really has fallen in love with these ladies from Chile, Brazil, Japan and Portugal and we are sad to see them leave. Oh well, until next year.
Travel safe, and remember, Africa is not for wussies.
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