A perfect end to a fabulous contest.
For the first two days of competition the weather at The Wedge in Plettenberg Bay was bitterly cold to say the least. The rain poured on day one and the cold winds blew on day two, with the sun only making a brief appearance.
Day three, and the final day of the competition, could not have been any better weather wise. Unfortunately the waves didn't play there part throughout the entire day and once again, the better swells were seen in the early morning and late afternoon.
Although conditions were tough and finding the winning wave was difficult the riders dug deep and busted spectacular manoeuvres.
The Pro division final saw an epic battle taking place between Michael Ostler, Vaughn Harris, Sacha Specker and Justin Lindsay in rather testing conditions. Sets rolled in irregularly and when they did they tended to close out. In order to score highly riders had to be patient and be sure to pick the right waves. Specker was on form and picked up a moderately high scoring, cover up to ARS combo, for his opening ride, but couldn't seem to wrap it up with another good ride. This gave the rest of the guys' a chance to play catch up and they quickly followed suit. Harris launched and landed a solid ARS and followed it up with a clean Invert. Ostler and Lindsay strung together a couple of solid rides, but just couldn't keep up with Specker and Harris. Having last won The Wedge Classic way back in 2004, Vaughn Harris, was crowned the King of The Wedge for 2008. Specker placed second with Ostler in third and Lindsay finishing in fourth.
"The heat was incredibly tough because the waves were so inconsistent. Going into the finals I knew that Specker would be a big threat because he is riding really well and is always hungry for victory. I would have to say that the backflip pulled me through," commented a jovial Harris moments after claiming victory.
Harris went on to thank his sponsors, Reef Wetsuits, Science Bodyboards, his parents, the event sponsors and the crowd as he says that without them he wouldn't have had the drive to pull through.
Always interesting to watch, the Juniors division final proved to be one of the most spectacular of the day when Jayden Alford-Loots, Bradley Moys, Adam Waites and Dane Beales went head to head. The heat began with an exchange of rolls between competitors, but as the round drew nearer its conclusion all hell broke loose and the riders went all out throwing down some of the sickest combo's seen throughout the entire event. The battle came down to the wire, but at the end of the day, Bradley Moys, who's riding was spectacular for the duration of the contest, was deemed the winner of the Juniors division at The Wedge Classic 2008. Alford-Loots, Beales and Waites finished in second, third and fourth respectively.
"I am incredibly stoked to have won at The Wedge - it is my first win here. Winning felt quite awkward and I was actually quite stunned. It was a really tough heat and I felt that I rode well so I am just really happy with the win. Big thanks must go to my sponsors," said Moys.
The Drop Knee riders had it as tough as the rest and needed to be on top of their game in order to land moves on the wedging walls. Local ripper, Samuel "Sampi" Kamffer used his local know how to his advantage and forged forward during the heat with his fellow competitors, Sacha Specker, David Lee and Daniel Worsley hot on his heals. Conditions were incredibly tough for the riders, so tough that a rider of Daniel Worsley's calibre couldn't pick up a solid scoring ride. Specker stood out in the finals with his impressive riding and it was too little surprise that he was announced as the winner of the DK division. Current SA Pro division Champ, David Lee, placed second, Sampi third and Worsley fourth.
"I feel really good having won, but I am disappointed with the waves we had during the heat. It was also my goal to win the Pro division, but I am content with my performance on the tour this year. All in all the tour has been really good and in my opinion gets two thumbs up," said a relaxed Specker.
Specker, who has just signed a new board sponsorship deal with Nomad Bodyboards, went on to speak of a possible signature model being released in the near future. He also thanked his other sponsors, Digicape, Sport n Surf and Viper International.
To say that the Ladies division final was a tough heat would be an understatement. Current SA Ladies division Champ, Pamela Bowren, squared off against local contenders Lyndall Pells and Geline Derbyshire as well as Jocelyn Norton, from Southern KZN. Both Pells and Bowren stood out as they fought for the title, trading move for move in what has to be the closest Ladies division final for quite some time. Pells was eager to claim victory on home soil and went all out in an attempt to do so, but was unable to fend off the challenge of Bowren, who claimed her third win in a row at The Wedge. Pells came in second, Derbyshire third and Norton fourth.
"I was really surprised that I managed to win. Lyndall rode well and I really thought that she had done enough to win. What can I say, I am really happy to have won in such challenging surf and I am glad that the competition was so fierce," commented a content Bowren.
Local bodyboarder, Ryan Jucker, was another rider looking to claim 3 in a row in the Men's division at his home break. In a hard fought final, Jucker, faced off against Wesley Potts, JP Nortier and Darryn Campbell, who all put on a top class performances. In a heat dominated mostly by rolls and a trademark "seagull" air by Nortier, Jucker came to the party with a solid barrel to roll combo, followed by a big clean ARS. Inevitably, Jucker's local knowledge paid off and he scooped a remarkable 3 straight wins at The Wedge. Campbell finished in second place with Nortier coming in third and Potts in fourth.
The Boys division final was a closely contested affair fought between Chris Kleynhans, Murray Van Vuuren, Sebastian Koopmans and local lad, Niklas Martin. The boys found the small conditions favourable to their style of riding and made full use of the waves on offer, busting solid rolls with style. Martin impressed many with his riding ability and Van Vuuren was just as impressive. Koopmans even landed a last minute ARS to bring the heat to its conclusion, but it wasn't enough to stop Van Vuuren from claiming victory. Second place went to Martin, Koopmans came in third and Kleynhans claimed fourth.
The Masters division riders were also caught out of their element in the small surf, but managed to put on an impressive display of manoeuvres thus highlighting their experience. Len Bradford, Wayne Craig, Corne Smith and Vaughn's brother, Shannon Harris, all had good rides, but it was Wayne Craig, who took top spot with his impressive riding which included an ARS. Harris came second with Smith and Bradford taking third and fourth place respectively.
Not forgetting the development side of bodyboarding, organisers put together a crew of impressive young guns to compete in the Development division finals. Winning the division was Leon Martin, finishing second was Kevin Kleynhans, third went to Michael Searle and fourth to Tyren Caldwell.
Now for the humdinger - The Expression Session. Some of you might have read my previous write ups and noticed that something special had been organised for the session. A super charged jet-ski to tow riders onto the pitching wedges and launch into the stratosphere. A crowd gathered and were blown away within the first few moments as Sacha Specker launched the biggest reverse air any of us had ever seen. Fittingly he was awarded first place in The Wedge Classic 2008 Expression Session.
The Up and Coming rider award went to Michael Ostler and Top Judge was awarded to Naartjie.
The Wedge Classic 2008 was proudly brought to you by FNB, Robberg Fine Foods, Reef Wetsuits, Science Bodyboards and Pam Golding Properties in association with Off the Hook seafood cafe', Surf Cafe' and Flashbacks.
More shots to follow shortly!
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