Zoe McDougall (Hawaii) and Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay) won the women's and junior women's titles respectively at the Zigzag Durban Surf Pro pres. by G-Force in wind-effected one-metre waves at North Beach in Durban on Saturday.
The two winners justified their top seeding in the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 women's and Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 events, with McDougall successfully defending the title she in Durban won last year and also finishing runner-up to Woolf in the junior final.
The women's final was an all international encounter with McDougall, who has won half-a-dozen events in South Africa over the past two years and spends considerable time staying in Jeffreys Bay with the McGillivray family, overcoming the challenge of Josefina Ane (Argentina), who has just returned from a month-long training trip in Indonesia after winning the women's title in the third event on the WSL Africa QS in Port Alfred in April
The pair were evenly matched in the 25-minute final but the Hawaiian found the better right breaking waves while Ane, a goofy-foot who surfs with her right foot in front, chose to ride the left breaking waves in the middle of the beach that provided less opportunity to score highly.
'I feel great and I'm super happy to win this two years in a row,' said McDougall. 'Hopefully next year I can come back and win it for a third year.'
To reach the final McDougall eliminated South African surfing legend and former Women's Masters World Champion Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) in a lopsided semi-final while Ane got the better of Teal Hogg (Shakas Rock) in their last four clash.
The junior final was a see saw event with Woolf paddling out late and having to play catch up as her opponents had already posted scores. But the exciting goofy-footed talent from Jeffreys Bay stayed patient and only surfed four waves, taking the lead with rides of 5.25 and 6.50 (both out of 10) for a heat total of 11.75 that her rivals could not match.
McDougall rode 12 waves with the best two netting her 10.75 while the fast improving Zoe Steyn (East London) featured in yet another final and finished just ahead of surprise finalist Ceara Knight (Cape Town), who was competing in her first WSL Africa event of the year.
'The international girls coming in is making it really exciting,' said Woolf on the podium. 'Everybody is pushing each other and surfing is on a whole new level. My goal is definitely to get into finals in both divisions next time, but I am just taking it one heat at a time and seeing where I go.'
Earlier in the day the QS1,000 men's event saw the top seeds enter the fray in the Round of 32 and set up a classic finals day on Sunday with David van Zyl (Glenashley), Dylan Light foot (Jeffreys Bay), Jordy Maree (Hout Bay) and Shane Sykes (Salt Rock) all posting heat wins.