2009 O'Neill Cold Water Classic in South Africa 

With an epic storm fast approaching, the surfers indulged in the clean, fast, heavy waves of this second day of competition at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic South Africa.

Back at Misty Cliffs, with a cleaner but similar size swell to yesterday, it was the 16 year old Hawaiian surfer John John Florence who had the crowds gathered on the cliffs above cheering loudly as he got a barrel on almost every wave he took off on.

His final ride, as he tucked into his last barrel of the day, earned him the highest wave score of the competition so far – a 9.6.

“It was good out there today,” said John John. “I was battling against Hedgy and saw this big wave come in at the end and just went for it.”

It was the final two waves of John John that nudged former World Tour surfer Nathan Hedge out of this third leg of the O’Neill Cold Water Series as the event moved into the round of 64.

“I don’t usually like when it is that close,” said John John on his battle with Nathan. “I usually get really nervous, but today it worked out ok.”

Nathan’s surprise exit as he battles through a back injury opens up the CWC Series ranking list and the chance of the $50,000 prize money that little bit more, as the Australian surfer had been sitting in fourth position following Tasmania and Scotland.

Another surprise from today’s competition was the departure of South African surf champion, Sean Holmes, who was knocked out by the local talent of Josh Salie.

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O'Neill Cold Water Classic South Africa 

The quality of the first day of surfing reinforced this. The ride of the day came from Japanese surfer Yujiro Tsuji, who pulled into a 4 second tube ride that had looked to be impossible. The line of spectators gathered on the cliffs above, were cheering him on as he came up from the beach with the top score of the day of a 9.5.

The South African stars shone on this first day of their hometown event – and among them was O’Neill’s South African marketing manager and former WCT surfer Paul Canning.

“It was great to be in the water and look at the event and the cliffs from there,” said Paul. There’s definitely a lot less pressure when you are surfing your own event. I usually would get really stressed out before my heat but now it was just good to get in the water.”

Also among the South African talent was Grant Arendse. The 18 year old from False Bay here on the Cape Peninsula was one of eight surfers from the Surfing South Africa’s transformation and development program, who were granted wildcards by O’Neill into this 4-Star ASP WQS competition.

Although narrowly missing out on a spot in the round of 96, Grant was stoked to be part of the event. “Surfing is about having fun,” he said. Grant, who started surfing at the age of 10, has been involved in the program for the past six years. “It helps with coaching as well as all the equipment and travel which I wouldn’t be able to afford myself,” he said. “My level of surfing has improved so much. Even today it was just great to get in the water with some really good surfers and make them work a bit for their waves.”

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David Vlug 

David Vlug (Narrabeen, NSW) claimed the opening qualifier Red Bull Junior Surf Masters event of 2009 today, with a commanding performance at Curl Curl.

After a boom inaugural year in 2008, the Red Bull Junior Surf Masters heralded it’s return, back and bigger than ever, with some cracking performances by the Northern Beaches best.

Endorsed by 2007 ASP World Tour Champion Mick Fanning, today it was Vlug who took the spoils of victory. “I’m so stoked with the win,” Vlug said after reveling in the tricky conditions.

Highlighted by rain squalls, heavy gusts and on-shore winds, the day resembled a nightmare on land, but with the best juniors on the Northern Beaches tearing the shifting peaks apart, the crowd was treated to some blistering action in the water.

“The conditions were definitely tough, but they were tough for everyone so there was no advantage out there,” he added modestly, after taking the final with a combined heat total of 7.64 (out of a possible 20).

Defeating Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen, NSW), Blake Levett (Manly, NSW) and James Lange (Avalon, NSW), who finished second, third and fourth respectively, Vlug was the standout competitor throughout the event.

Racking up the two highest combined heat totals, a 14.26 and 16.24 (out of a possible 20) in the semi-final and quarter final, Vlug was a deserved champion.

“I felt super confident going into the event,” he said with the winner’s medal draped around his neck.

“Having made the Red Bull Junior Surf Masters final last year I am extremely focussed on returning back to that level of competition,” he added. “It’s where I want to be.”

To be held across NSW and QLD this June, July and August, The Red Bull Junior Surf Masters, presented by Mick Fanning, allows tomorrows stars an opportunity to launch their surfing careers, something that Chapman admires about the Series.

“For the younger competitors these events allow us to compare, compete and test ourselves against the older guys,” the 15 year-old said after finishing second.

A series of six qualifying events will take place in various beaches including Curl Curl, Newcastle, Werri Beach, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Bondi with the finals being held in Cronulla.

“I am happy with my result today and am stoked to be going to Cronulla to take on the best from NSW and Queensland.”

With plenty of awesome giveaways for each participant and the total prize pool for the Series is over $45,000; with the first prize being the biggest ever awarded for a junior surf event in Australia, the incentive is there for the next crop.

“It’s a great initiative and one which really encourages the promotion of junior surfing within NSW,” said Surfing NSW CEO, Mark Windon.

Today is a perfect example of the high-standard of talent that resides within NSW and with the backing of Mick Fanning and Red Bull hopefully these event’s will produce the next world champion.”

With the top four surfers from each event (24 surfers in total) invited to battle it out at the Red Bull Junior Surf Masters Trials to be held in Cronulla on Friday, 28th August, the rest of the Series will be intense as next week sees Newcastle playing host.

Red Bull Junior Surf Masters Event Schedule

Event #1 - 20 June, 2009 – Curl Curl Beach
Event #2 - 27-28 June – Newcastle
Event #3 - 11 June – Werri Beach
Event #4 – 22 August – Bondi Beach