EASTERN Province's leading junior surfers will pit their skills against some of the country's best competitors when the inaugural RVCA Junior series takes place in Jeffreys Bay this weekend.
Nearly 100 of South Africa's best young surfers aged 20-and-under will compete in the event, which will be run in the world-renowned waves of the Lower Point from Friday to Sunday.
Prize-money worth R100000, plus prizes and special awards in seven age divisions, ranging from under-10 to u-20 for boys and girls, along with points in the Pro Surf Tour (PST) rankings, has attracted competitors from every corner of SA, including Mexican supergrom Sebastian Williams, 12.
Jeffreys Bay surfers Dylan Lightfoot and Steven Sawyer are geared to go head to head with the country's top guns, while sisters Gina and Emma Smith head a powerful girls' entry.
Gina, the current SA u-17 champion, and her sister will join another local, Tahra Uren, as they bid to see off the challenge from the likes of Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), Inge McLaren (East London) and Nina Woermann (Kenilworth) to scoop the bulk of the prize-money and points on offer.
The 32-strong u-20 boys' field is packed with talent, including ASP World Tour campaigner David van Zyl (Glenashley) and the Kommetjie trio of Mikey February and brothers Davey and Benji Brand.
The highly competitive u-16 boys' division features SA u-15 champion and another Jeffreys Bay star, Matt McGillivray, along with fellow national team members Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay), Steff Burrows (Stellenbosch) and Simo Mhkise (Umzumbe), as well as rising stars Bevan Willis (Umdloti) and Nthando Msibi (Durban).
SA u-15 girls champ Crystal Hulett (St Francis Bay) and national team member Anoush Zakarian (Melkbos) will be tested in the u-16 girls' division by the likes of Olivia Brand (Umdloti), SA u-13 champ Sophie Bell (Umhlali) and the diminutive 11-year-old emerging star Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay), among others.
All four SA u-13 finalists – Adin Masencamp (Strand), Ethan Fletcher (Kommetjie), Jose Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) and Max Elkington (Hout Bay) – will be in action in the u-14 boys' division at the RVCA event. They will be up against a talented field which includes Koby Oberholzer (Warner Beach), Ford van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie) and Sebastian Williams (Mexico).
Williams, who will also contest the u-16 boys' category, is visiting the country for the first time with his father, former Durbanite Tim Williams. Arguably the best 12-year-old to compete in SA, Williams was ranked No12 in the 2012 Surfer Mag "Hot 100 Groms" (u-16) list, up from 19th in 2011.
The u-12 and u-10 boys' divisions showcase SA's rising wave of future surf stars, including York van Jaarsveldt and Manoa Robb (Kommetjie), Angela Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) and Durbanites Saxton Randall, Tide Lee Ireland and James Ribbink.
Special awards for the top performers include the "On-Fire" awards for the most radical and expressive approach during the event.