16 April 2013
Greg Emslie and Chris Knutsen won gold medals and Andre Malherbe and Heather Clark picked up silver as South Africa finished runners-up to Hawaii at the 2013 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship, which ended in Montanita, Ecuador on Sunday.
Team SA staged a magnificent fightback at the business end of the event, which featured 20 national teams and more than 120 surfers over the age of 35, by climbing from fifth place in the team standings heading into the final weekend up to second, passing the powerful USA, Brazil and Australian squads to secure the silver medal in the team event.
Emslie was the standout surfer at the event, going unbeaten throughout and posting a string of the highest single ride and heat scores, including a near perfect 19.46 out of 20 in the final of the Masters (over-35) division where he was up against 2000 ASP world champion Sunny Garcia, fellow Hawaiian and ASP campaigner Kalani Robb and defending ISA Masters world champ Magnum Martinez (Venezuela).
Emslie started slowly in the inconsistent overhead surf for the final before finding a well-shaped wave on which he produced the ride of the event, vaulting from fourth place into the heat lead by executing a seamless series of powerful, progressive manoeuvres that earned perfect 10-point scores from three of the judges and high nines from the other two, averaging out at 9.83.
Solidifying his lead with rides of 7.50 and 6.60, Emslie then sealed his first World Title since he won the ISA World Grommet Championships back in 1994 by posting an outstanding 9.63 on his last ride, which included a spectacular gravity-defying floater over the lip of an overhead wave. That left his opponents in a combination situation where they needed to improve on both their scores to overtake him when the siren to end the heat sounded.
Chris Knutsen got Team SA off to the best possible start on the final day by racking up the best score of the Grand Kahuna (over-50) final, a 7.67, on his first ride.
Five minutes later the “Old Fox” showed his exceptional wave selection skills by cementing his third Grand Kahuna gold medal and his fourth ISA Masters gold overall with a 7.50, giving him a heat tally of 15.25 that defending champion Craig Schieber (Costa Rica), Alan Sarlo (USA) and Eric Graciet (FRA) could not match.
After Garcia had clinched the Grand Masters (over-40) title for Hawaii with a typically powerful performance in the only age category final where Team SA was not represented, Andre Malherbe bolstered Team SA’s charge up the team leaderboard with a great display in the Kahunas (over-45) division.
All four competitors struggled to find long rides as the dropping tide caused the waves to break in sections, but Malherbe took the lead at the halfway mark before being overtaken by Mike Latronic (Hawaii) in the dying minutes to secure the silver medal to add to his haul of a bronze and a copper at previous ISA Masters events.
Heather Clark, who like Knutsen had battled her way through the repercharge rounds to reach the women’s masters (over-35) final, was undaunted by facing a stellar, all ASP World tour line-up including seven-time world champ Layne Beachley (Australia), Rochelle Ballard (Hawaii) and Andrea Lopes (Brazil).
Clark, the only South African surfer to win the prestigious Hawaiian Triple Crown back in 2000, proceeded to catch the biggest waves and deliver huge manoeuvres, racking up scores of 4.93 and 7.50 and 6.17 to hold the lead for several minutes.
However, Beachley, the world’s most successful female surfer and Australia’s only individual medal winner, was not to be denied and posted an excellent 8.53 at the halfway mark to grab the gold medal. Clark briefly dropped to third place before earning a 6.17 that added another silver to her tally of two golds and a silver.
Gold: Hawaii (Winners of Eduardo Arena Team Trophy)
Silver: South Africa
Grand Kahunas (over-50)
Gold: Chris Knutsen (RSA)
Silver: Craig Schieber (CRC)
Bronze: Allen Sarlo (USA)
Copper: Eric Graciet (Fra)
Grand Masters (over-40)
Gold: Sunny Garcia (Haw)
Silver: Marcelo Alves (Bra)
Bronze: Love Hodel (Haw)
Copper: Dean Randazzo (USA)
Gold: Mike Latronic (Haw)
Silver: Andre Malherbe (RSA)
Bronze: Jojo De Olivenca (Bra)
Copper: Ricky Shaffer (USA)
Women Masters (over-35)
Gold: Layne Beachley (Aus)
Silver: Heather Clark (RSA)
Bronze: Andrea Lopes (Bra)
Copper: Rochelle Ballard (Haw)
Gold: Greg Emslie (RSA)
Silver: Kalani Robb (Haw)
Bronze: Magnum Martinez (Ven)
Copper: Sunny Garcia (Haw)
Country Final Standings
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material