Greg Emslie took control in tricky conditions to win a coveted WQS title in the 1 Star ASP WQS Men’s division at the Lizzard Nando’s Surf Pro, presented by the Weekend Witness. Lizzard sponsored team rider Nikita Robb was also able to overcome the challenging conditions at Durban’s North Beach to claim the Surfing South Africa (SSA) Pro Surf Tour (PST) 2A rated Women’s division.

The men’s final, contested by Greg Emslie and Dan Redman, was an understandably tight affair with the lead changing hands on multiple occasions. Redman, who won this competition in 2005, opened the scoring and put the pressure on Emslie. He responded well, however, and unleashed a combination of scoring waves which would eventually prove to be too much for Redman to handle. Emslie was the first to admit that “conditions weren’t too good”, but he “had a really good board” which no doubt made it easier to deal with the conditions. The victory means so much more to Emslie because “all the guys here are such high caliber surfers”.

In the women’s final, Lizzard team riders Nikita Robb and Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) started strongly, posting some early bankable scores. Eventual winner Robb said “conditions were very difficult”. Having “scraped through all of [her] heats, Robb was “very surprised with the victory, which was a long time coming”. With 2 minutes left in the heat, all of the competitors were one score away from first place, and again the messy ocean conditions played into the hands of the surfer who posted decent scores early on. Ultimately, it was Robb who prevailed over Heather Clark, Tasha Mentasti (Durban) and Tammy Lee Smith (Salt Rock) to record her second consecutive Lizzard Nando’s Surf Pro victory.

On day 4 of the contest, the men’s division kicked off with the round of 16. Casey Grant (Scottburgh), who won the Grade 1 ASP International Pro Junior division, was an early casualty. Dave Weare (Durban), who is currently flying the SA flag from his 3rd place on the WQS rankings, also made an early exit thanks to some solid surfing from Warner Beach’s Frankie Oberholzer. Lizzard rider Gavin Roberts (Scottburgh) blasted his way through his round of 16 heat, progressing with Warwick Wright (Durban) to the quarter finals. Super experienced Greg Emslie posted the highest wave and heat score of the day with a near perfect 9.75 and a total of 16.75 out of a possible 20. Emslie and Winkelspruit’s Klee Strachan were the last surfers to make it out of the round of 16.

The man on man quarter final round started with a victory for Frankie Oberholzer over Rudy Palmboom (Bluff). The next heat was a repeat of the Quiksilver Goodwave final from a few weeks back, with Dan Redman (who won the Lizzard in 2005) up against Durban’s Shane Thorne (winner of the Quiksilver Goodwave). A rapid start from Redman left Thorne needing a combination of scores to win the heat, which he was unable to do. The third quarter final saw Scottburgh hopeful Gavin Roberts up against rising star Klee Strachan. Roberts, a full time WQS campaigner, took an early lead and was able to hold off Strachan to take the win. The last quarter final had former WCT surfer Greg Emslie up against 2006 Lizzard contest winner Warwick Wright. In a heat where both surfers were trading high scores, it was Emslie who ultimately emerged with the victory.

The first semi-final took to the water in less than ideal conditions, with an onshore winding chopping up the surf. Dan Redman was fortunate to latch onto a rare longer ride and posted a formidable opening score. Frankie Oberholzer, with time running out, required an 8.51 to take the heat and a spot in the final. With the conditions not doing him any favours, Oberholzer was unable to post a decent score or dislodge Redman from 1st place.

The second semi final, between Gavin Roberts and Greg Emslie, was off to a frenetic start with Emslie posting a 9.0 and a 6.5 off his first two waves. With all his WCT experience, Emslie was not going to surrender his lead without a fight. Roberts, after dominating every heat he surfed in up to the semi, was undone by the lack of surfable waves in the latter part of the heat, setting up a final between Redman and Emslie.

The fourth day of competition had started with the women’s quarter finals, with familiar names like Heather Clark, Nikita Robb, Tash Mentasti (Durban) all qualifying for the semi finals.

Lizzard team riders Robb and Clark dominated in the first semi final and qualified for the final. In the second semi final, which was surfed in increasingly difficult conditions, Mentasti and Tammy Lee Smith (Salt Rock) managed to adapt and earned places in the women’s final.

Mike Frew, Lizzard’s Marketing Manager, was “stoked to see the WQS guys like Gavin, Rudy, Warwick and Dan doing well”. Frew was also happy to “see a new swell arrive this morning, making conditions really contestable”.

ASP Africa’s Colin Fitch, Contest Director, was pleased “to see some of SA’s best surfers supporting local events”. “Although the conditions were very challenging, the standard of surfing was still at the level that you would expect from a WQS event” said Fitch.

The event, now in its sixth year, was held at Durban’s North Beach between 15-18 May, and offered a total of R121 500 ($15 000) prize money. The junior prize giving was held on the 16 May, with the men’s and ladies finals and prize giving being held on Sunday 18 May.

Source: ASP World Tour