SA teen set for women’s surfing elite

1 October 2012

South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag won the ASP six-star Sata Airlines Azores Pro on Saturday. Her victory was the latest in a string of fine performances this year, which had already ensured her qualification for the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the pinnacle of women’s surfing competition.

The 18-year-old from George in the southern Cape was on fire all day, and started her Azorean campaign with an incredible 9.5 out of 10 in the very first heat of the event. Six rounds later, she defeated France’s Pauline Ado to lift the title.

“It’s the most heats I’ve surfed in a day for sure, I think six since 7:30 this morning,” Buitendag said afterwards. “My mom’s been feeding me all day – orange juice, chocolate, everything she could find that helped!

‘I didn’t surf five heats for nothing’

“When I got into the final, I was just like ‘I didn’t surf five heats for nothing’, and I just wanted to do my best for 20 more minutes!”

Buitendag’s title-winning performance put an exclamation mark on a superb season.

With two event wins, the other being in Peru, a third place and two fifth places counting in her five-best results of 2012, the rising South African star has shown consistency in the major events and will be a force to be reckoned with next year amongst the Top 17 on the elite WCT.

“I feel great!” Buitendag said about her results. “I started really badly in Australia this year, so when I went to Peru it was kind of no pressure and I got a win there. It was just way beyond my expectations and getting two wins in one year is just plain crazy, so I’m stoked!”

‘An honour’

Looking ahead to competing on the WCT, she added: “It’s such an honour to be seen as a Top 17 woman in the world.

“I don’t know what to expect. I’ve watched a couple of WCT events, but I’ve never participated in one. I’m just going to learn from each event, and I’ll see what I can do. If I can create some upsets I’ll be happy.

“I’m looking forward to all events next year, I’d say maybe Snappers the most because I’ve watched it several years in a row, and it’s definitely amazing.

“I have one more event to go next week, the World Juniors in Bali,” Buitendag concluded. “All of my friends are going and it’s going to be a really good time with great waves. It should be amazing.”

Qualified

Runner-up Pauline Ado qualified for the WCT again by finishing runner-up to Buitendag. The 21-year-old Frenchwoman from Anglet entered the Azores event ranked sixth and needed to better a quarter-final result to improve her situation.

“I’m super tired and sore,” she said after achieving the result she needed. “I surfed six times today, but at the same time I am so happy to requalify.”

“Obviously I wish I had won, but Bianca surfed really good and I’m super stoked!” she added.

At the end of the Women’s World Tour season, the Top Six qualifiers, who secured places on the WCT were:

    1. Sage Erickson (USA) – 12 720 points
    2. Bianca Buitendag (RSA) – 12 200
    3. Pauline Ado (Fra) – 8 880
    4. Rebecca Woods (Aus) – 8 840
    5. Alana Blanchard (Haw) – 8 760
    6. Sofia Mulanovich (Per) – 8640

SAinfo reporter

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