Durban’s Lyle Botcher claimed the Open Men’s division title at the Hutchison Handcrafted Pro held at Surfer’s Point Ballito on the North Coast of South Africa this weekend. Botcher, who lay in second place behind Gavin Roberts for most of the final, snuck into first place in the dying minutes when he caught a shore break wave that allowed him to cram a handful of lightening fast manoeuvres before the wave rolled onto the sand.

“I was kind of lucky at the end there because I still needed a good wave," said Botcher after the prize giving ceremony. “Luckily I caught that small wave with less than two minutes to go and did as much as I could right onto the sand."

Botcher pocketed R4000 for his efforts as well as a hand-carved trophy for his victory. Finishing in second was Scottburgh’s Gavin Roberts with Shane Warren and Warwick Wright finishing in third and fourth respectively. Wright’s fourth place finish sealed an emphatic victory in the 2006 ASP Africa Professional Surf Tour rankings. The victory, his first, was a hard fought one and a just reward after an exceptional 2006 season.

“I’m stoked to be the ASP Africa champ," said Wright, “It’ll give me a lot of confidence for next year as well as giving me a wildcard into the two biggest events." Wright's victory was a major leap for him on the Professional Surf Tour as he has struggled in the past few years to make any headway in the highly competitive circuit.

“Before this year, I’ve never even made the top 14 on the PST before and its great to have your name up there with all the other South African surfing legends," he said. Wright, who had the title all but sealed at the halfway stage of the tour, was made to work hard for his win after a strong late charge from the likes of Frankie Oberholzer (Warner Beach) Ricky Basnett (Bluff) and Jordy Smith (DBN).

Smith, who was on fire throughout the event, finished in the top spot of the highly competitive Pro Junior Division after he demolished his opposition in the final. Smith’s mixture of style and power saw him record one of the highest heat scores of the event to leave his competitors needing a combination of scores to topple him from the top spot.

Smith, who has had a breakthrough year on both the local and international surf scenes, added to his impressive list of accomplishments, which include a victory at the ISA World Surfing Games, by comfortably winning the PST Pro Junior ratings race. Smith’s closest competitor, Klee Strachan (Warner Beach), finished in second place ahead of the winner of Zigzag’s Blowing Up Award, Shawn Dennis (DBN).

Dennis was awarded the prestigious hand grenade trophy and a thousand bucks for his excellent performance throughout the event, which saw him reach the quarter finals of the Open Men’s Division as well as a well earned third spot in the Pro Juniors.

In the Women’s Division, local girl Tammy-Lee Smith (Salt Rock), used her knowledge of her home break to take the top honours. Smith, who lives in Salt Rock, looked at home in her back garden as she managed to link up some high scoring rides from the backline through to the shore break.

Finishing in second place was East London’s Nikita Robb, followed by Nicole Annells (DBN) and Danielle LeRoux (DBN) in fourth position. The winner of the Retro Expression Session was Lee Bisset (DBN) who displayed style and grace on his Hutchison Handcrafted twin-fin rocket. Bisset was rewarded R1000 for his efforts as well as a weekend away for four at the Cane Cutters Resort.

Final Results

Men’s Open

  • 1. Lyle Botcher. (DBN)
  • 2. Gavin Roberts. (Scott)
  • 3. Shane Warren. (Bluff)
  • 4. Warwick Wright. (DBN)

Pro Junior

  • 1. Jordan Smith. (DBN)
  • 2. Klee Strachan. (WNR)
  • 3. Shawn Dennis. (DBN)
  • 4. Brandon Roberts. (CT)

Women’s

  • 1. Tammy-Lee Smith. (Salt Rock)
  • 2. Nikita Robb. (EL)
  • 3. Nicole Annells. (DBN)
  • 4. Danielle LeRoux. (DBN)

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