International Surf Rescue Challenge Media Release  ISRC1908

30 Sept 2019

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Written by: Dave Macleod

Last chance to challenge at International Surf Rescue Challenge

Durban – With the third and final test in the International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban moved ahead to Tuesday, defending champions in both the open and youth divisions Australia lead the standing but there is plenty to encourage both South Africa and New Zealand to challenge the sport’s global pacesetters.

Midway through the second test, Australia held a slim one point lead over South Africa and New Zealand in the open division, and the Tri-Nations rivalry was burning brightly as the ever-worsening sea conditions served to further level the playing fields.

Australia had an excellent afternoon session, excelling in the beach events and winning three of the four flags titles to surge clear by the time an early end came to the test after the cancellation of the afternoon ocean races due to the heavy surf pounding North Beach.

Tuesday’s weather should see a strong offshore wind offer very different conditions to the heavy seas whipped up by the dogged North Easterly winds that drove the big and unpredictable swell into the bay.

New Zealand’s seniors go into the last leg 12 points adrift, but, like the South Africans, they will be buoyed by the manner in which they were able to tilt the balance of power away from the Australian dominance in several disciplines.

Australian lifesaving icon Shannon Eckstein was excited about the narrowing of the gap, particularly with the competition simultaneously hosting the Trans-Tasman and Tri-Nations contests.

“It is good for the sport to have strong countries represented. Our guys are feeling the pressure and they are looking forward to it,” he said.

The South African open men’s squad has only six members available after the withdrawal of Kenny Rice and the injury to Ryle de Morny, but shrewd rotations in the women and both youth squads paid handsome dividends in the second test as fresh athletes made their mark.

The South African youth squad has delivered some encouraging performances, and in particular the courage shown by the youngsters swimming, paddling Malibu boards and surfskis in the heavy sea conditions has been lauded.

Team captain Connor Botha hasn’t had things go all his own way, but has still managed to consistently bank valuable points for the home youth side.

"Connor Botha and George Edward were robbed of a chance at redemption in the Ocean Man when it was cancelled due the heavy seas in the second test, so they are both going to come out firing," said team manager Josh Kreft.

"We are targeting a win in the team ski event and have both ski specialists Uli Hart and Matt Fenn in the team," he added.

Several others members of the youth squad put their hands up in the trying conditions.

Liam Calvert sensationally grabbed a gold medal in the beach sprints, in the process fuelling the self-belief in his fellow squad members to try and emulate his performance. The Beach Relay team duly obliged.

Paige Horn has been gutsy throughout, as were all the girls who raced ocean event, refusing to be intimidated by the big sea conditions.

The third and final test gets under way at North Beach at 8am on Tuesday.

Australia 189 (116, 73)
New Zealand 177 (105, 72)
South Africa 134 (75, 59)
USA 97 (57, 40)
Japan 81 (46, 35)
Spain 74 (40, 34)

Australia 167 (90, 77)
New Zealand 146 (82, 64)
South Africa 131 (75, 56)
USA 62 (36, 26)
Spain 52 (28, 24)

More information can be found at

Live results can be found at


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International Surf Rescue Challenge 2019 Logo - Landscape (JPeg)  
International Surf Rescue Challenge 2019 Logo - Rectangular (JPeg)  
Josh Fenn of South Africa (right) punches through a big wave in a surfski race alongside Ryan Paroz of Team USA during the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. Mike Van Heerden/
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Paige Horn completes her malibu board race in the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. Mike Van Heerden/
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SA Youth team captain Connor Botha has regularly banked points for his country in the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. Mike Van Heerden/
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South African youth team beach sprinter Liam Culvert won a gold medal in the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge at North Beach in Durban. He is seen her racing Mapo Seven of New Zealand. Mike Van Heerden/
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