Kwazulu-Natal’s Connor Botha made history at the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Club Surf Championships in becoming the first teenager to win the open mens’ Iron race.
Botha, just 17 years-old, upstaged Fish Hoek’s Nic Notten, who won the title in 2018. Botha, competing for Umhlanga Rocks, was expected to win the junior Iron but in a day of drama he finished third. Botha, who had led the race from the start, got upstaged by a freak wave near the finish.
There would be no such bad luck for him in the senior Iron.
It was a day for old and the new with South Africa’s most celebrated sprint and flags duo of Ryle de Morny and Mandi Maritz also taking gold in the sprint and flags respectively.
De Morny, a gold medal winner in the flags at last year’s world championships in Australia, won the sprint title for the first time in three years. But the final proved a spectator letdown after defending champion Jonathan Rorke was disqualified in the semi-finals for a false start.
Rorke, in 2017 and 2018, had beaten De Morny into second place and this was the most anticipated event at the Championship.
Maritz, who won gold in the flags at the world championships, was a comfortable winner in Port Elizabeth. She is the favourite to do the flags and sprint double, as she did in 2018.
Marine’s Carmel Billson also transferred her brilliance from the pool to the surf in winning the female open Iron.
Billson totaled 48 points at the Pool Championships earlier in the week and proved as unstoppable, despite the change of conditions.
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