The 20th annual champions in the Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel were crowned at Seal Point in Cape St Francis on Sunday, after the fourth and final event in 2017 series was completed in highly contestable 1-1.5-metre waves and glassy conditions.
Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) and Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) clinched the premier U18 boys' and girls' Billabong Junior Series titles, which earned them each a coveted trip to the tropical surfing paradise of Bali thanks to All Aboard Travel. The same pair also topped the World Surf League (WSL) Africa Junior regional rankings lists, and are the 2017 WSL Africa Junior champions.
The U16 boys' and girls' series titles were won by Angelo Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) and Tayla de Coning (East London) respectively, despite neither of them winning any of the four events. Ceara Knight (Cape Town) and Daniel Emslie (East London) each secured two event victories on their way to the U14 girls' and boys' series titles, while Kyra Bennie (Vredehoek), the U12 boys' series champion, won three of the four events in 2017.
The seven finals, run at Seal Point on Sunday, produced phenomenal surfing with Ford van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie) capturing his first WSL Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) men's event victory after defeating Calvin Goor (Salt Rock). The lanky 18-year-old Capetonian posted a near-perfect score of 9.0 out of 10, plus three rides in the seven point range, the best of which was a 7.87, and his heat total of 16.87 left Goor still needing a 9.76 when time ran out.
Former Jeffreys Bay local Kai Woolf, now competing under the New Zealand flag, won both the JQS (U18) women's event and the U16 girls' division, delivering heat totals in the mid-teens in both finals. Woolf finished ahead of Taghiti Gericke (Wilderness) in the one-on-one JQS final, while Olivia Izzard (La Lucia), Summer Sutton (Kommetjie) and Tayla de Coning (East London) challenged her throughout the U16 final.
Visiting French teenager George Pittar won the U16 boys' title, relegating last year's U14 boys' winner Tide Lee Ireland (Durban) to the runner-up spot, while Luke Thompson (Durban) and Zoe Steyn (East London) dominated the day's U14 boys and girls finals respectively.
Brazilian Ryan Kanailo was outstanding in the U12 boys' final, earning a near-perfect heat total of 18.70 out of 20 that left all three of his opponents needing to replace both their highest scoring rides in order to overtake him.
The highly-anticipated Von Zipper Air Show was staged after the finals and provided Calvin Goor (Salt Rock) with the chance to shine as he clinched the R2,000 winner-takes-all prize purse for landing the best aerial manoeuvre.
Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel
2017 Final Series Rankings
1st Jake Elkington (Kommetjie)
2nd Ford van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie)
3rd Max Elkington (Kommetjie)
1st Sophie Bell (Salt Rock)
2nd Summer Sutton (Kommetjie)
3rd Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga)
1st Angelo Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay)
2nd Saxton Randall (Durban)
3rd York van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie)
1st Tayla de Coning (East London)
2nd Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga)
3rd Summer Sutton (Kommetjie)
1st Daniel Emslie (East London)
2nd Mitch du Preez (East London)
3rd Luke Thompson (Durban)
1st Ceara Knight (Cape Town)
2nd Zoe Steyn (East London)
3rd Caroline Brown (Cape Town)
1st Kyra Bennie (Vredehoek)
2nd C-Jay Posthumus (Port Elizabeth)
3rd Kai Hall (Durban)