Brandon Roberts takes title at second Billabong Junior Series event in Durban

Brandon Roberts went unbeaten through five rounds, including the final, to secure his first title in the premier Pro Junior boys division of the Billabong Junior Series outside of Cape Town at the second of five events held at the Bay of Plenty in Durban, South Africa on Sunday.

The slender 19 year-old fourth seed from Sun Valley on the Cape Peninsula led throughout the final against third seed Rudy Palmboom (Bluff), clinching victory via an excellent ride packed with vertical carves just before the five minute mark to pocket the R3 500 winner’s pay cheque and 1 000 ratings points.

Roberts narrowly defeated Josh Redman (Umdloti) in their quarter-final clash, the first heat of the final day, when Redman, unaware that only needed 4.01 points for victory, fell attempting a high risk aerial manoeuvre and was awarded 4.0, losing out by 0.01 of a point. The Capetonian scored a more comfortable victory over Kyle Lane (Umhlanga) in their semi to reach the final.

Palmboom also won every heat he contested up to the final, putting paid to Matthew Bromley’s chances of taking the series ratings lead in the quarters by earning a 7.0 point ride in the first 30 seconds of that clash, before accounting for another Kommetjie surfer in Brett Shearer in the semis.

While most of the competitors rode the one to 1.3 metre (3-4 foot) wind affected right handers off the pier at the Bay of Plenty, Pro Junior girls winner Tarryn Chudleigh opted for the left breaking waves in the ‘Bowl’, the same waves she rode to win the Billabong Girls Get Out There event earlier last September.

At 16 the most experienced surfer in the final, Chudleigh took her second successive series event title for 2007 by performing powerful manoeuvres that sent sheets spray flying to finish ahead of 13 year-olds Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) and Bianca Buitendag (George) and Alice McGregor (EL), who turns 16 on Monday.

The U16 boys division produced the most exciting final of the event when Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) sealed victory in the last minute after emerging from a deep barrel that drew gasps of astonishment from the crowded beachfront and 9.0 points from the judges.

That came after a ding dong battle for supremacy with 2006 series champ Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) and Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) where the lead changed hands several times in the last five minutes as first de Vries scored 7.5 and then Joubert earned 8.0 before Staples had the final say. Joubert took the runner-up spot, de Vries ended third and Blake Freegard (Umdloti) placed fourth.

Michael February (Kommetjie) reigned supreme in the U14 division, picking up 7.25 and 9.0 point rides in the first five minutes of the final to run out an easy winner. The current series champ scored 13.50 points or more in every heat he contested in the division and deservedly was awarded the Zigzag Performance award of R1 000 and the coveted replica hand grenade trophy for ‘Blowing Up’ during the event.

Dane Staples grabbed the runner-up spot from Jarred Veldhuis (Kommetjie) and Philip Britz (Grahamstown) who placed third and fourth respectively. Slade Prestwich, the highly impressive newcomer from Scottburgh, made sure of victory by posting a pair of seven point rides in the U12 final to consign St Mikes winner Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) to second place this time around.

Diran Zakarian (Melkbosstrand), another new face at this level, grabbed his chance to place third when he and Prestwich were given a walkover passage into the final by series champ Max Armstrong’s (Kommetjie) forced withdrawal from their semi-final due to illness. Daniel Buitendag (George) placed fourth after a last minute ride in the semis gave him a berth into the final ahead of Josh Smit (Athlone Park).

The Von Zipper Air Show produced its usual spectacular display of innovative surfing as the protagonists went head to head attempting the biggest aerial manoeuvres. Top seed Brandon Jackson (Durban North) and Casey Grant (Scottburgh) were the ones to beat before Josh Redman produced an unbelievably high aerial on the outside to pocket the winner-takes-all R1 800 prize-purse.

The Kustom awards of R500 plus a pair of Kustom footwear for the best performance by local surfers went to siblings Rudy and Heidi Palmboom.

The five-event R220 000 Billabong Junior Series started at St Mikes on the lower KZN South Coast and continues in Cape Town (May 17-20) then Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape (August 9-12) before wrapping up in the legendary surf Mecca of Jeffreys Bay (September 21-24) where the 11th annual series champions will be crowned.

Billabong Junior Series Event # 2 (of 5), Bay of Plenty, Durban

Pro Junior (U/20) Boys

1. Brandon Roberts (Sun Valley, CT)

2. Rudy Palmboom (Bluff)

=3rd Kyle Lane (Umhlanga)

=3rd Brett Shearer (Kommetjie)

=5th Josh Redman (Umdloti)

=5th Clinton Gravett (East London)

=5th Matthew Bromley (Kommetjie)

=5th Dale Staples (St Francis Bay)

Pro Junior (U/20) Girls

1. Tarryn Chudleigh (Kommetjie)

2. Sarah Baum (Athlone Park, KZN)

3. Bianca Buitendag (George)

4. Alice McGregor (East London)

U/16 Boys

1. Dale Staples (St Francis Bay)

2. Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay)

3. Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga)

4. Blake Freegard (Umdloti)

U/14 Boys

1. Michael February (Kommetjie)

2. Dane Staples (St Francis Bay)

3. Jarred Veldhuis (Kommetjie)

4. Philip Britz (Grahamstown)

U/12 Boys

1. Slade Prestwich (Scottburgh)

2. Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay)

3. Diran Zakarian (Melkbosstrand)

4. Daniel Buitendag (George)

Von Zipper Air Show

Josh Redman (Umdloti)

Zigzag Performance Award

Michael February (Kommetjie)

Kustomised Awards

Boys – Rudy Palmboom (Bluff)

Girls – Heidi Palmboom (Bluff)

www.billabong.com/africa