Jessie van Niekerk and Sarah Baum Dominate SA Open of Surfing Day 1

Sarah Baum (RSA) scored the highest single-wave score of the day at the SA Open of Surfing at Pollok Beach in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on Saturday, 23 March, 2024. Photo: (C) WSL / McGregor

The second and final event of the World Surf League (WSL) Africa Qualifying Series (QS) 2023/2024 season, the SA Open of Surfing QS1,000 kicked off in tricky conditions, with one to three-foot waves on offer at Pollok Beach, Gqeberha on Saturday, 23 March, 2024.

After her runner-up finish at the Cape Town Surf Pro last weekend, Jessie van Niekerk (RSA) produced a stellar performance, dominating both her Quarterfinal and Semifinal heats to book her spot in the Final. 

She advanced over Sarah Scott (RSA), and the two Capetonians will meet each other again on Finals day alongside Anastasia Venter (RSA) and Sarah Baum (RSA).

“The waves are really fun,” Van Niekerk reacted. 

“I’ve been in Nelson Mandela Bay for the last week, surfing different spots and it’s been really consistent, and I’m really enjoying being here. I’m just so grateful to win my heats.”

Jessie van Niekerk Dominated Saturday action to Book her Sunday Finals Berth

South Africa’s Sarah Baum, who provisionally qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and finished 14th on the Women’s Challenger Series (CS) in 2023, opened her account at the SA Open of Surfing with a bang. 

“I go into each event with the goal to win it. I’d like to do well and take out this event, because every competition is just practice for the Olympics. I’m just ticking the boxes and see how we go.”

South Africa’s Sarah Baum

Baum showed her experience to manufacture a score in the shifty conditions, expertly connecting the sections to earn a 9.17, the highest single-wave score of the day for two huge turns in her Quarterfinal heat. Baum comfortably won her Semifinal heat with another strong performance. 

“I’m so stoked to be back here in South Africa,” Baum said. “I get to see a lot of my friends and catch up. The waves are really fun today, the tide just filled in and there’s a great little right bowl. I got that wave that was really fun, got in two turns and the judges really liked so I’m stoked. 

It was a long and big day of competition on Saturday, with the next call to be made on Sunday, 24 March at 7:00 AM for a possible 7:30 AM start.

The SA Open of Surfing will be supported by Surfing South Africa, Accelerate Sport, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Red Bull.

SA Open of Surfing QS1,000 Quarterfinal Results at Pollok Beach in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, on Saturday, 23 March, 2024

HEAT 1: Jessie van Niekerk (RSA) 12.67 DEF. Zia Hendricks (RSA) 5.07, Adriel Wolmarans (RSA) 3.50
HEAT 2: Sarah Scott (RSA) 11.50 DEF. Kira Hofmeyr (RSA) 7.90, Crystal Hulett (RSA) 6.64
HEAT 3: Sarah Baum (RSA) 15.57 DEF. Anastasia Venter (RSA) 10.20, Nicole Pallet (RSA) 9.97
HEAT 4: Louise Lepront (RSA) 10.56 DEF. Natasha van Greunen (RSA) 9.67, Lily Heny (RSA) 6.44

Semifinal Results

HEAT 1: Jessie van Niekerk (RSA) 13.10 DEF. Sarah Scott (RSA) 10.43, Kira Hofmeyr (RSA) 8.27, Zia Hendricks (RSA)
HEAT 2: Sarah Baum (RSA) 14.00 DEF. Anastasia Venter (RSA) 11.00, Natasha van Greunen (RSA) 8.03, Louise Lepront (RSA) 7.87

SA Open of Surfing Final Matchups, for Sunday, 24 March, 2024

HEAT 1: Jessie van Niekerk (RSA) vs. Sarah Scott (RSA) vs. Sarah Baum (RSA) vs. Anastasia Venter (RSA)

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Original Copy: WSL Africa, with editing by gsport

Main Photo Caption: Sarah Baum (RSA) scored the highest single-wave score of the day at the SA Open of Surfing at Pollok Beach in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Photo: (C) WSL / McGregor

Photo 2 Caption: Jessie van Niekerk (RSA) booked her spot for Finals Day at the SA Open of Surfing. Photo: (C) WSL / McGregor

Photo 3 Caption: Cape Town Open runner-up Sarah Scott’s good form continues at Pollok Beach in Gqeberha. Photo: (C) WSL / McGregor

Photo 4 Caption: Anastasia Venter clinched the last finals berth, behind Sarah Baum in the Semifinal Heat 2. Photo: (C) WSL / McGregor

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