GEORGE SURFING NEWS - There was great joy the past weekend at Victoria Bay when Eden Surfriders were the proud winners of the Vic Bay Quad in Memory of John Pfaff. Winning the contest with a grand total of 32 284 points, it was the first time in over a decade that Eden Surfriders took the trophy.
Residents of George were enjoying a final splash of autumn sunshine at the weekend as a steady stream of cars and bakkies was making its way towards Victoria Bay to enjoy a splash of a very different sort.
Over 100 surfers from Nelson Mandela Bay, Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Buffalo City had made the journey to Vic Bay to attend the annual Vic Bay Quad in Memory of John Pfaff.
One particularly hardy group from East London had driven through the night to arrive at 07:00 on a cold but crisp Friday morning while another group had made the relatively short hop from George, Wilderness, Mossel Bay and Plett to represent Eden Surfriders in a contest that is now a firm favourite on the Surfing South Africa calendar.
Southern Cape pioneers
The first Vic Bay Quad took place over four decades ago and was originally called the Quad, or "Quadrangular", because there were then just four competing districts. Local surfers Leonard Giles, Rob Wiese, Archie Swanson, Alan van Rensburg and John Pfaff were the founding fathers of the Southern Cape Surfing Association, now known as Eden Surfriders.
In an age where surfing hadn't achieved the status and recognition that it enjoys today, this group of young surfers fought to establish an official local surfing body and then proposed the idea of hosting the very first Quad at Vic Bay, thus putting Southern Cape surfers and Victoria Bay firmly on the surfing map.
John Pfaff was the very first chairman of the Southern Cape Surfing Association, and when he passed away in 2010 he was honoured in the most fitting way imaginable when Surfing South Africa, in conjunction with ex-Eden chairman Mike Shepard, asked if they could bring the Vic Bay Quad back to life, after a brief break during the 2000s, and name it in memory of John.
And so the Vic Bay Quad in Memory of John Pfaff was reintroduced in 2011 and since then it has grown into one of the largest amateur surf contests in South Africa, thanks to the support given by Eden Sports Council, the Western Cape Government and local businesses.
Selecting the cream
In preparation for a major contest like this, each district must select its best surfers within certain age categories. They do this by running trials in the months prior to the event.
The top surfers from each age group are selected to represent their district in the following categories; Over 60, Over 50, Over 45, Over 40, Over 30, Open Women and Open Men. This ensures the cream of the surfing talent is represented at the event.
Contestants are then divided up into heats, according to their ranking within each province. This allows the strongest surfers within each province to ultimately meet in the finals and not be pitted directly against each other in the opening rounds of the competition.
Heats are made up of four surfers with the top two surfers advancing per heat, until each division is whittled down to four contestants in the final.
A live-scoring system allows the commentator to continually broadcast updated scores to the surfers in the water and to the spectators on the point. This year, ex-world champion knee-boarder Gigs Cilliers committed three days of his time to provide this vital information so that surfers are always aware of what is required to progress through the heat.
His unrivalled passion for competitive surfing ignited the excitement of the crowd and kept the spectators on the edge of their seats. Surfers are given just 20 minutes to catch two scoring rides, which ensures high drama and excitement right to the very last second of each heat.
After two days of contestable waves, the forecasts predicted a dying swell for the final day, which had contestants nervous. But Mother Nature intervened for finals day on Sunday. To the delight of every single person at Vic Bay, the waves started to roll in and ultimately produce near perfection for the final heats.
Since the re-introduction of the Quad in 2011 the contest has been dominated by the team from Nelson Mandela Bay but also won on occasion by Cape Town Surfriders and Border. Eden Surfriders had delivered consistent performances over the last decade but were always held in second place, usually by just a narrow margin.
Tired of being always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Eden chairman Robert Pollock was adamant that this was Eden's year to bring home the coveted trophy.
In fact, he was so determined that he came out of retirement to reignite his amateur surfing career by participating in the Over 50s division.
From first light on Sunday morning, spectators lined the Vic Bay point and whistled, hooted or just plain screamed as their team members competed during the finals, in an attempt to get their respective teams over the finish line. During the contest, points are tallied up as surfers are eliminated and added to their respective team totals.
The further the surfer advances in the contest, the more points he or she is awarded.
Sunday got off to an incredible start for Eden with the Over 60s final, which was dominated by Wilderness local, Stephen Hair. He sealed the deal with the only perfect 10-point ride of the entire contest. The Over 45s was won by another Eden rider in the form of Charlie Reitz.
Charles kept his best surfing for the final and rode with effortless speed and precision to earn valuable points for his team.
In the 0ver 40s Eden had all three of its team members in the finals, which has never happened before. Bruce Taplin, returning to form after an absence from competitive surfing, enjoyed the powerful waves and placed fourth behind the lone Eastern province surfer.
The heat was dominated by the battle for first place between Sean Holmes and David Pfaff, lifelong friends who began competing in the Under 10 division for Eden Surfriders back in the 80s. Holmes posted two excellent rides during the final and not even a near-perfect 9,93 by Pfaff in the dying moments, was enough to unseat Holmes from first place.
It was a special moment when Holmes and Pfaff took back-to-back waves and had the entire bay on its feet in unanimous support of two surfers that have shared a long competitive history.
In the Over 30s final Mathew van Rensburg earned vital points for Eden, placing fourth in a hotly contested division. Krystal Tavenor put in a great performance, coming fourth in the Women's Open division while the Men's Open Division promised a nail-biting finale to the day and to the contest, with two ex-professional surfers fighting for first place.
Dylan Lightfoot led from the outset, with Shaun Joubert requiring a 6,8 score to win the final. Within the dying 30 seconds of the contest it looked like Dylan was unbeatable, but with seconds to spare Joubert paddled aggressively into a mid-sized set wave and took off on the final wave of the contest as the hooter signalled the end of the heat. His all-or-nothing approach paid off and he was awarded a 7,1 score and the first-place trophy.
As everyone gathered for the prize-giving there was huge anticipation as teams tried to calculate who had won the overall Team Event and the coveted Memorial Trophy. As Gigs Cilliers read out the team results and the final tally of points, everyone waited with bated breath.
In 5th place were the Cape Town Surf Riders with 27.830 points. 4th place went to Cape Winelands with 28,765 points and 3rd place to Nelson Mandela Bay with 30,462 points.
It was down to the final two places, between last year's champions, Border, and the Eden Surfriders. Would Eden be the bridesmaids yet again?
Not this year
For the first time in over a decade Eden Surfriders are the proud winners of the Vic Bay Quad, while Buffalo City secured 2nd place with 30,649 points.
The John Pfaff Memorial Trophy is staying at home this year and the Eden Surfriders couldn't be prouder.
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