Excitement around the seventh annual six-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) Mr Price Pro is building as an elite squadron of WQS surfers arrive in Durban this week. With solid 2- 2.5-meter waves and ten second barrels spitting across the sand bank at North Beach on Wednesday, organisers are anticipating a cracker start to South Africa’s premier surfing event, which gets underway on Friday 30 June.
Boasting the highest number of entries in the history of professional surfing in South Africa, this year’s Mr Price Pro will see 300 surfers descend on North Beach to compete in the R1 Million event.
Spilling with World Championship Tour talent, the line-up includes former ASP world number five Phil MacDonald (Cronulla, NSW), former Bells Beach Pro champion Trent Munro (Cronulla, NSW) and former ASP world number eight Nathan Hedge (Scotts Head, NSW) who are the top seeds for the event.
The South Africa contingent weighs in with a healthy, three World Championship Tour Campaigners including a former world number one on the WQS Greg Emslie (East London), former ASP world number 20 Travis Logie (Durban) who is the highest rated South African at the event and WCT Rookie David Weare (Durban).
Emslie and Travis have both reached the finals of this event in the past and with years of experience at North beach, are determined to win the event. Boasting a total prize-money purse of US$ 125 000 (R862 500), the winner of the men’s division will walk away with a check for US$15 000 (equivalent of R100 500), an amount unheard of on the South African Pro Surf Tour (PST).
The lovely Megan Abubo (Hawaii) is the top seed for the women’s five star WQS event and arrives with former two times Mr Price Pro champion Jacqueline Silva (Brazil), who is the second seed, on Friday.
Adding fuel to the fire in the women’s division are ASP Pro Junior World Champion Jessi Miley Dyer (Australia) and WCT wildcard sensation Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), not to mention former event champions Serena Brooke (Australia) and Melanie Bartels (Hawaii
WCT campaigner Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) is South Africa’s top seed, followed by South Africa’s leading WQS campaigner Tammy Lee Smith (Ballito) who was the highest placed South African at this event last year. The women’s division holds a total prize-money purse of US$25 000 including a first-place check for US$4000 (R28 768).
Because the future of surfing belongs in the hands of junior surfers, the Mr Price Pro will kick off with the R25 000 Mr Price Pro Junior event for junior men and women.
The Pro Junior event runs from Friday 30 June – Saturday 1 July but will stop at the end of the semi finals, meaning the eight remaining surfers will have to wait a whole week before they compete in their finals, which take place prior to the Women’s and Men’s finals the following weekend.
Top seeds for the Pro Junior division are South African U20 Champion Keegan Nel (East London) and former South African U20 Roseanne Hodge (East London).
The Mr Price Pro is one of the most prestigious events on the World Qualifying Series tour and holds vital ratings points needed to qualify for the ASP World Championship Tour.
All the action will be broadcast via the live webcast on www.mrpricepro.com.
|Taxpayers' money would pay for airfares, taxes, accommodation and general spending money.|
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Saturday saw some of the top seeds taking a tumble when the Pro Men’s number one seed Frankie Oberholzer (Warner Beach) fell by the wayside. Other surfers that were unexpectedly eliminated included Ricky Basnett (Bluff), Brandon Jackson (Dbn North), Simon Nicholson (Berea), Brad Mommsen (Dbn) and Lyle Bottcher (Dbn North).
Some of the surprise upsets could be attributed to the inconsistent, small surf which trickled through over the course of the day resulting in some wave starved heats. Current 2006 ASP Africa Pro Surf Tour rating’s leader Warwick Wright (Durban) continued to shine scoring an 8-point ride in the round of 48 surfers on one of the biggest waves of the day.
Jordy Smith (Umbilo) snatched the day’s highest score when he earned 9.67 out of a possible ten points. “I was in the right place when that good wave came through; it came straight at the pier and then hit the bank perfectly allowing me to pack in a few good turns which I ended with an air,” said Smith who has made the quarterfinals of the Pro Junior and Pro Men’s divisions.
Smith later starred in one of the most nail biting heats of the day where he and junior star Damien Fahrenfort (Durban) were responsible for knocking out Nicholson and Basnett in the round of 32 surfers.
Another name to keep an eye on in the finals is Shane Warren (Bluff) who surfed consistently well throughout the event. Rusty team riders Mike Varikas (Durban) and Dane Monks (Umhlanga) made the most of their head start into the seeded rounds; both performed well to advance to the Pro Men’s quarterfinals.
In the Pro Women’s quarterfinals an exciting battle is guaranteed when number one seed Rosanne Hodge (East London) and current point’s leader Stacey Guy (Melkbosstrand) come up against seasoned professionals like multiple ASP Africa champion Tamarys de Maroussem (Westbrook). Lynne Mackey (Westville) has risen from relative obscurity to being a force to be reckoned with, the Rusty surfer will be out to ruffle some feathers.
From a total field of over 134 surfers, only 16 remain per division; the first quarterfinals will take to the water at 08h00. The event started on Friday, June 23 and over the past two days spectators have been treated to world class performances from surfers in the Pro Juniors, Pro Men and Pro Women’s heats in the 2A rated ASP Africa Pro Surf Tour (PST) event.
The contest tower is based at Dairy Beach on the pump house to enable surfers to ride New Pier or Dairy depending on the surf conditions. The Expression Session takes place at 2.10pm with ten invited aerial specialists showcasing the biggest and most radical airs possible in the 30-minute final.
Durban is being touted as the next city to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Launching the city's Durban Beach Africa beach festival on Wednesday evening, the city's deputy mayor, Logie Naidoo, said: "We believe that the 2016 Olympic Games should come to Durban. Cape Town has had its chance. It's time for Durban to bid for this biggest of events."
No decision has, however, been made by the city's executive council, he said.
He cited Durban's facilities and the recent announcement that a R1.6 billion stadium is to be built next to the Absa Stadium in preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
"2010 will be an important year, but we have always said 2010 and beyond."
Speaking after the press launch of the festival, Naidoo said that if Durban did make a bid for the Olympic Games, it stood a very good chance with South African and former National Olympic Committee president Sam Ramsamy being a member of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee.
Ramsamy hails from Durban.
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In waves that reached two metres (6 foot), with occasional sets closing out across the narrow bay, the premier Pro Junior boys’ division set to work with a vengeance. The highlight was the round of 32 heat between reigning series and ASP Africa champion Brandon Jackson, wildcard Jordy Smith, current ratings leader Damien Fahrenfort, all from Durban, and U16 star Matthew Bromley (Kommetjie).
Fahrenfort, winner of two series events already this year, was on fire – selecting the best waves, putting his board on edge as he powered off the bottom of the overhead waves an pushing his fins out of the back of the wave as he re-entered off the top – to rack up a pair of excellent 7.5 point rides and the heat win.
Fellow WQS campaigner and Billabong team rider Smith replied with his patented repertoire of innovative manoeuvres for an 8.0, the highest ride of the heat, but could only add a 6.0 to that for second place and a spot in the next round. Despite his best efforts Jackson ended third and Bromley was denied any of the best waves by his more experienced opponents to place fourth.
Josh Redman (Durban) was another to shine with his power surfing in the overhead conditions resulting in a creased board as well as damage to his replacement board, but he still secured the heat victory. Others through to the last 16 include heat winners Josch Schmeltzer (Westville), Brandon Roberts (Sun Valley, CT), Rory Beach (Durban) and top seed Keegan Nel (East London, who finished second behind wildcard Klee Strachan (Amanzimtoti).
Outstanding performances also came from U16 stars Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay), both of whom won two heats in the Pro Junior division and their quarter-final encounters in the U16’s with red hot surfing.
The Pro Junior girls quarters went largely to the seeds with the top four – Nikita Robb and Rosanne Hodge (both East London), Tammy-Lee Smith (Salt Rock) and Tarryn Chudleigh (Scarborough, CT) – all advancing to the last eight where they will take on national team member Chantelle Rautenbach (Melkbosstrand) and youngsters Bianca Buitendag (George), Heidi Palmboom (Bluff) and 12 year-old standout Sarah Baum (Athlone Park, KZN).
Bromley and Haydn MacNicol (Scottburgh) finished first and second in the first of the U16 quarters, with top seed Chad du Toit (Durban) and Kyle Galloway (East London) going through to the semis from the second, Joubert and an impressive Daniel Mace (Kommetjie) from the third and Staples and Brendon Gibbens (Kommetjie from the fourth.
Michael February was the standout of the U14 boys’ quarters, displaying a maturity of surfing way beyond his 13 years on the waves peeling down the Vic Bay point to advance to Sunday’s semis along with the other heat winners Dane Staples (St Francis Bay), Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) and Davey Brand (Kommetjie).
Sunday’s program sees the semi-finals and finals of all the divisions, including the U12 boys who did not compete on Saturday, along with the Von Zipper Air Show with its R1 800 winner-takes-all reward for the surfer completing the best aerial manoeuvre.
The series is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport. The U20 boys and girls’ divisions are also sanctioned by ASP Africa with the ratings points counting towards the yearend Pro Surf Tour (PST) Pro Junior crowns.
The 2006 Billabong Junior Series is proudly supported by FNB; Red Bull; Capri Sun; Mentos sweets; Mrs Palmers; Drench; Salt Water Girl; Zigzag and Blackfoot Productions.
For further information on the series and a host of other interesting aspects of South African surfing visit www.billabong.com/africa where top performers are profiled.
|'I just ran the race and went along with the flow'|
San Francisco - Microsoft on Tuesday warned of eight "critical" security flaws in its Windows operating system and Office software that could allow attackers to take control of a computer.
Microsoft, whose Windows operating system runs on 90 percent of the world's computers, issued patches to fix the problems as part of its monthly security bulletin. It was the biggest such update since February 2005.
The world's biggest software maker defines a flaw as "critical" when the vulnerability could allow a damaging Internet worm to replicate without the user doing anything to the machine.
Six of the critical flaws related to Windows and two affected Office. Microsoft also issued another two security warnings it rated at its second-highest level of "important" for Windows as well as one it gave a severity rating of "moderate".
It also warned of an "important" flaw in its Microsoft Exchange software that allows users to send and receive email along with other forms of communication through computer networks.
The company has been working for more than three years to improve the security and reliability of its software as more and more malicious software targets weaknesses in Windows and other Microsoft software.
This coming weekend South Africans will once again be spoiled for choice from a menu of top class international sports events.
Live on national pay and public television channels will be the Fifa Soccer World Cup, the second rugby Test against Scotland and the annual, uniquely South African spectacular, the Comrades Marathon!
The Comrades Marathon surely embodies what I would call the quintessential South African sports event.
What is it about this 87.5km road race that captivates the imagination of professional road runners, celebrities, business executives, politicians and people from all walks of life?
What is it that makes them come back again and again?
What makes Mondle Gungubele, former MEC for Sport and Recreation from Gauteng and Deputy Minister of Finance, Jabu Moloketi return to the race year after year?
What other South African sports event can boast participation from 46 countries around the world?
Americans, Australians, Japanese, Germans, British, you name it, they travel to South Africa in June, determined to run and finish the "ultimate human race".
The advent of "sports tourism" is clearly evident during the Comrades with scores of runners' friends and family accompanying them to experience the beauty that South Africa offers - a growing market KwaZulu-Natal Tourism, Durban Africa and the city of Pietermaritzburg are gearing up to develop further in future.
Even the National Department of Sport and Recreation are recognising this with the production of its own "sports tourism compact disc" prominently featuring the Comrades Marathon.
What other South African sports event can boast an exhibition over three days visited by close to 60 000 people?
The Comrades Experience (Expo) offers sports goods manufacturers, sports nutrition manufacturers, health and fitness distributors and many other businesses the opportunity to market their products and services to a very specific and captive target market.
What other sports event spanning over 90km and taking 12 continuous hours to complete can boast on average between 12 000 and 15 000 participants - a feat that is not equalled anywhere in the world.
What other South African sports event can boast close to 200 000 spectators lining the route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg to support the runners on their epic journey through the suburbs and countryside of KwaZulu-Natal?
What other South African sports event raises on average between 1.5 and R2m for charity annually?
This money is raised through donations from runners, sponsors and special fundraising initiatives by the designated charities in conjunction with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA).
This year the Comrades Marathon Association will distribute the funds derived from the official Amabeadibeadi Charity Drive to the Community Chests of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the Heart Foundation, the Wildlands Conservation Trust, the Sports Trust and Starfish.
But ultimately the Comrades Marathon is about the runners, the special persons or personalities that are prepared to take on the challenge to run 87.5 torturous kilometres.
The Comrades Marathon celebrates the indomitable human spirit, the courage to challenge adversity and to overcome it.
It is personified by disabled, blind and mentally handicapped individuals completing this race, not once, but many times over.
There are some partaking at the ripe 'old' age of 50 and 60, and yes, even an 82-year-old who is back to run the race this year - truly amazing!
There are many such stories that set the Comrades Marathon apart from regular marathons and ultra-marathons.
To a relative newcomer, and mostly to the numerous Comrades journeymen (and woman) of the past eighty years, the Comrades Marathon embodies the soul of our developing nation - more than that, it is indeed a community of nations, a country united!
What better reason can there be to participate?
Who knows, it may be your turn next!
Do it now, start with your training, the 2007 Comrades Marathon awaits!
"Every South African should run the Comrades at least once in their lifetime".
Long may its legacy continue.
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Star Studded Line Up for Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown
A star studded line up including former women’s world champion Karla Costa-Taylor (Berea, Dbn) and former US tour winner Alistair Taylor (Berea, Dbn) have entered the Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown. The event takes place on Friday, June 30 at the Bay of Plenty Beach which is known for being more open to swell than some of the neighbouring breaks on the Durban beachfront.
The Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown is one of the water sports highlights at the 2006 Durban Beach Africa festival presented by Vodacom and the SABC; the festival runs from June 30 to July 9 along the Golden Mile. Vodacom has a reputation for being the Greatest Supporters of SA supporters.
The Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown is a South African Bodyboarding Association (SABA) sanctioned specialty contest which boasts a R10, 000 prize purse which will be shared amongst the five divisions - Pro, Drop Knee, U20, U15 and Ladies. The Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown is a national competition open to all bodyboarders from around South Africa and will be run by the North Beach Bodyboarding Club.
To spice up the Pro division title race Costa-Taylor has opted to take on the men and has her heart set on first place. The petite bodyboarding powerhouse grew up in Brazil and moved to South Africa a few years ago with her husband Alistair. At Natal Trials last month Costa-Taylor bodyboarded to an easy victory bruising egos with near perfect scores over her husband and 20 year old North Beach hot shot Rylin Richardson (Durban).
National bodyboarding team member Wesley Fischer (Berea, Dbn) and winner of the most recent SABA event Mark Watts (Westville, Dbn) are also amongst the favourites capable of taking top honours in the Pro final.
Reigning South African Boy’s Bodyboarding Champion Ian Campbell (Morningside, Dbn) is expected to dominate the U15 heats with big names like Jake Rosenberg (Bluff, Dbn) tipped to win the U20 division. 2004 SA Women’s Bodyboarding Champion Robyn Sorenson (Berea, Dbn) will have the upper hand of local knowledge in the Ladies contest. Wesley Fischer (Berea, Dbn) and Sasha Taljaard (South Beach, Dbn) are perennial favourites to win the Drop Knee division.
“Durban will always be the hub of surfing in South Africa and we at SABA are thrilled that Vodacom has sponsored our event and that we are a part of Durban Beach Africa,” commented bodyboarding champion Alistair Taylor and current SABA Chairman.
There will be no second chances for competitors in the Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown, due to the event running over one day only the event organisers have selected a straight elimination format which allows no room for error.
SABA’s ongoing national development programme is expected to attract newcomers in the hopes of toppling the old guard in the Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown. The Taylors will be running a Vodacom Development Bodyboarding Clinic for free open to all members of the public at midday.
The sport of bodyboarding started in 1971 in Hawaii, thanks to surfing legend Tom Morey. From its humble beginnings, bodyboarding has grown into an international sport and is an immensely popular alternative to surfing. Due to the easy entry level bodyboarding attracts a large number of competitors.
At the highest level of riding bodyboarding is a supremely acrobatic sport where most of the manoeuvres are pulled off in mid-air as will be showcased in the Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown.
The Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown entry fee is R50, joining the North Beach Bodyboarding Club is encouraged but not mandatory for this event. Entry forms will be available on www.sixty40.co.za as well as on www.sabaonline.co.za. The closing date for final Vodacom Bodyboarding Showdown entries is 5.00pm on Tuesday, June 27.
Cellular giant Vodacom and the national broadcaster, the SABC, have both come on board as associate sponsors for the Durban Beach Africa Festival this year which runs from June 30 to July 9 on the Durban beachfront.
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He thought he was on to a sure thing. But now, R300 000 later, a South African man has become the latest victim of an international Internet-based scam.
The "SA 2010 World Cup Bid Lottery" is believed to be perpetrated by an international crime syndicate who target computer users and has already duped about 80 victims. The North West resident was strung along for months.
Police - with the help of Interpol - are working to crack the case.
However, national police spokesperson Captain Percy Morokane on Tuesday said police were not sure of the exact number of people who had been robbed by the syndicate because many victims might not have reported their loss.
Arrests had been made in both South Africa and the United Kingdom in the past month. Morokane said the case was at a sensitive stage and he could not give details of the arrests made.
He said the police did not want to make too much information public for fear of jeopardising their investigation.
"We strongly warn the South African public and the international community about this and similar scams. Any person receiving any form of correspondence urging them to participate in a game of some sort or promising a windfall should report this to the police," Morokane said.
According to police, the North West victim had been in contact with the syndicate since last year, but had become aware only recently that he had been scammed. The man reported the case to the police last Friday.
Over the past few months the man had taken personal loans to pay the fees and commissions he had been told were necessary for him to claim his grand prize worth "millions of rands". In all he had forked out more than R300 000, Morokane said.
He added that detectives were concerned by the high number of complaints they had been receiving from people who had been targeted by criminal syndicates in this way.
He said the first reports were received in April last year and had continued to flow in. The majority of the 81 victims were from the US, India and China.
According to Morokane, the syndicate targeted victims by sending them scam letters or emails, originating from within South Africa and from other countries.
The potential victims are told that they have won the lottery. He said the prize money usually runs into millions and in the currency of the country from which the hoax letter had purportedly been sent.
The recipient is then issued with a certificate confirming the prize. They are then asked to fill in a number of forms online, and in this way they are tricked into disclosing confidential details.
Once they have passed their information on, the recipients are told of a complicated procedure they need to undergo in order to claim their prize.
The first step, usually, is that they have to pay an upfront administrative fee before the claim process can continue.
Morokane said South Africans needed to be aware that all lottery games were governed by the Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, which provided for the establishment of the National Lotteries Board, the only statutory body charged with regulating the operation of the National Lottery in South Africa.
He said Uthingo had been issued the only licence to conduct the National lottery and currently offered three products or games. These are Lotto, Wina Manje Scratch Card and SportStake.
Any other lottery game is neither genuine nor legal. South African legislation also does not extend gaming opportunities to other countries, nor does it allow for agencies to act on behalf of the licensed operator. Nor are they entitled to offer free tickets, meaning that there cannot be any unwitting winners.
Anyone wanting to report lottery scam letters can call the police on 012-401-3345 or 012-393-1203 during office hours. Information can also be faxed through to 012-401-3369 or 012-393-1202.
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