Old and young flourished in the penultimate day of the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Club Surf Championships at Port Elizabeth’s Kings Beach.
Umhlanga Rocks’ teenage sensation Connor Botha made the biggest statement among the younger generation when he created history in winning in the mens’ open division. Botha won the surf swim a day after winning the run, swim, run.
The sport’s veterans, though, were as emphatic in showing that they aren’t just yet ready to hand over the baton.
Beach flags and sprint specialist Mandi Maritz proved a class above the rest in taking gold in the flags and sprint. Her double of 2019 was a repeat of her 2018 double and showed just why she has consistently been ranked in the top three internationally. She also won silver in the flags at last year’s world championships in Adelaide, Australia.
South Africa’s finest masters, nippers, juniors and seniors have been doing battle at Port Elizabeth’s Kings Beach all week, with the latter part of the week dedicated to the very best men and women in the open division.
The core of Team South Africa’s world championship squad has been in action. These men and women have shown their class and reinforced why they were selected to represent South Africa.
Fish Hoek’s Nic Notten, who returned from the world championships in Australia with a gold medal, recovered from a third place in the surf swim to take gold in the grueling Iron event.
It proved a brilliant day for the Nottens’, with Anna (Notten) winning two individual golds (two kilometre beach run and female board race) and one team gold in the female open board race relay.
Marine’s Carmel Billson also proved unstoppable in winning the female Iron.
Billson has no equal when it comes to female lifesaving in South Africa across stillwater, pool and surf. She has been exceptional this year in being the leading female in the open division at the stillwater nationals in Bloemfontein and also in the pool national club championships earlier in the week at Port Elizabeth’s Newton Park.
Her form in the surf in the last two days has been as commanding and compelling.
South Africa’s most famed beach flags and sprint winner Ryle de Morny added another gold in the sprint.
De Morny, who in 2017 and 2018, lost to Scottsburgh’s Jonathan Rorke in the sprint final, benefitted from Rorke’s disqualification in the semi-final.
Rorke false-started and was given the boot, which was unfortunate as there had been so much pre-Championship hype around whether he could do the treble of De Morny.
De Morny had earlier in the day cut his foot, so credit to him for still managing to reclaim his sprint title.
The Surf senior and junior championships finish on Saturday and the Nippers also complete their schedule in the final day of action at Newton Park.