EASTERN Province dominated the Hurley SA Junior Surfing Championships at Jeffreys Bay at the weekend, clinching the coveted Freedom Cup team trophy for the first time in the 16-year history of the event.
EP surfers also earned three of the six South African individual titles and three of the five special awards on offer.
South Africa's premier event for surfers aged 17 and under ended on Sunday after five straight days of excellent surf at the Point.
The team title was close, with the powerful KwaZulu-Natal Central (KZNC) team from Durban finishing just 184 points behind EP in second place, followed by defending champions Western Province 1143 points further back. Boland came fourth followed by Southern KZN, Southern Cape, Border, the SA Development Academy and Zululand.
Matt McGillivray, of EP, was the outstanding performer in Jeffreys Bay, producing inspired surfing that saw him win every heat on his way to the national under-15 boys' title.
He was crowned the Hurley Surfer of the Contest, in association with All Aboard Travel, earning a R20000 voucher to any destination in the world, and then pocketed another R5000 for winning the Red Bull Airshow, an aerial surfing event.
Jeffreys Bay surfer Gina Smith (EP) also went unbeaten throughout the event, going on to be crowned the national u-17 girls champion ahead of Inge McLaren (Border), teammate and last year's u-15 champion Tahra Uren (EP) and Caryn McNicol (KZNC).
In winning their divisions, McGillivray and Smith will receive their national blazers, meaning they will represent South Africa in July at the World Games. This is the second time the pair have been crowned SA champions. Smith won the u-15 girls division in Cape Town in 2010 and McGillivray the u-13 boys in East London in 2009.
In the u-15 boys Shane Sykes (KZNC) finished second with Jordy Maree (WP) third and Nthando Msibi (KZNC) fourth.
Msibi received the Zigzag Blowing Up award and R3000.
The u-15 girls' final was closely fought, with Crystal Hulett (EP) emerging as the champion and last year's winner Chanelle Botha (SKZN) close behind in second place. Olivia Brand (KZNC) and Ruth Armstrong (WP) were third and fourth respectively.
Benji Brand (WP) was on fire on the final day, employing his trademark vertical backhand repertoire to win the national u-17 title and also taking home R3000 for the CitroŽn Highest Heat Score award when he posted a 17.0 point out of 20 total in his semifinal.
Diran Zakarian (Boland) was runner-up, with Jason Harris (KZNC) in third and Ethan Pentz (WP) placing fourth
Adin Masencamp (Boland), who had held the lead in the Highest Heat Score award for the first four days, successfully defended his u-13 boys' title, finishing just ahead of Ethan Fletcher (WP). Jose Faulkner (EP) was third and Max Elkington (WP) fourth.
The u-13 girls' title went to Sophie Bell (KZNC) who racked up a massive 15.0 points to deny Kai Woolf (EP) a second successive title in her home surf. Ashleigh Vaughan finished in third place.
The Skullcandy Team Spirit award was presented to Eastern Province.