Mark Watts claims the 2009 Wedge Classic at Plettenberg Bay | Photo: Gareth White

For one week, each winter, Plettenberg Bay has opened its arms to and become home to the bodyboarding community as the Wedge Classic comes to town - a contest which has become one of the most anticipated events on the SABA Circuit calendar. The Wedge is a super-fun, contestable wave which at a few metres from shore makes it a great spectator event and with beach and evening activities always on the go, the event's drawcard is as much social as it is competitive.

This year, however, the contest was at risk of not happening; the previous organisers, Wave Crest Distribution, are sadly no longer in business and unlike other contests on the circuit, there is no local provincial association to run the event. So two months prior to the event, a rescue mission was hatched - to save the contest for 2009 - with an aim of bigger and better for 2010.

Credit must go to the local organising committee which was set-up hastily before the event - if you were going to get involved in running an event for the first time, you'd want more than a few weeks to prepare. However, I would like to pay special tribute to the contest director, Pat Harris, who for those of us who know what she does she has earned a lot of respect. secondly, to Ian Kruger and Bitou Tourism - without Ian stepping in to approach and broker the sponsorship deal with Bitou, this event would not have got off the ground in the first place.

OK - background info out of the way.

With some fairly average surf this year, we saw some early exits from some big names to add some drama to the event - most mentionable being Darren Halse, Sampi Kamffer and Sacha Specker dropping out early in the Pro Division.

But the final day of the event was finals day - with all the semi finals completed on day 2, those remaining would have had an anxious nights sleep in anticipation of their final heat - up for grabs was the title of King of the Wedge for their division.

In the boys division, Stephen du Preez had dominated through the early rounds but found it hard to find waves in the final. He was joined by Wesley Coetzee, Roger Pardoe and Niklas Martin, the local Wedge ripper who had also impressed through early rounds and in the Junior division. At the buzzer, du Preez had found enough to edge out his fellow finalists.

Adam Waites found himself in both the Pro and Junior Division finals - claiming victory in the Juniors against strong opposition from Andrew Raath, Storm Prestwich and Jared Visick. Would he be able to do the double and emulate past boy wonders Andre Botha and Alistair Taylor?

In the Masters, seasoned campaigner Michael van Huyssteen, was up against two locals in the form of Wes McQuillin and Wayne Craig. Wes won after using his local knowledge moving way down to 3rd peak and picking up the wave of the final. Van Huyssteen finished second which secured him his 5 Masters SABA title in a row.

In the DK division, it was Darren Halse who stole the show. Darren is back after years abroad competing on the IBA tour (both prone and DK) with a personal best result of 2nd at the Doninos Pro in Spain last year - and credit to the man who has been working in London the whole time, yet has still been able to produce the results. Darren secured victory in the DK final against strong opposition from Specker, Harris and Worsely with the wave of the contest - scoring a 10, a 9 and another 9 from the 3 judges for a crazy carving reverse floater.

In the pros, we may have seen some of the favourites drop out in earlier rounds but the standard of riding in SA amongst the top 16 is that high that from quarter finals onwards you can expect a heat as tough as a final. Having won the Expression Session and on the back of two wins at the Cape Classic and Wimpy Rossi Pro-Am, Mark Watts was always the man to beat and showed just why he is regarded as the best in the country. Taking second was the Junior champ Adam Waites followed by Dan Worsley and Michael "Ratt" Ostler.

Results:


Ladies
1. Lyndell Pells
2. Nikki Geriche
3. Emily Holden

Boys
1. Stephen Du Preez
2. Wesley Coetzee
3. Roger Pardoe
4. Niklas Martin

Mens
1. Jonothan De Lauwere
2. Ryan Jucker
3. Michael Meyer
4. Warren Samuel

Juniors
1. Adam Waites
2. Andrew Raath
3. Storm Prestwich
4. Jared Visick

Masters
1. Wes McQuillan
2. Mike Van Huyssteen
3. Wayne Craig

Dropknee
1. Darren Halse
2. Sacha Specker
3. Vaughn Harris
4. Dan Worsley

Pro
1. Mark Watts
2. Adam Waites
3. Dan Worsley
4. Michael Ostler

Expression Session
1. Mark Watts

The winners were crowned on Friday evening at a well attended event at the local ski boat club. Most notably was the array of prizes - all division winners received a Nomad Bodyboard with other great prizes from supporting sponsors.


SOURCE: Sixty40