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World Surfing action in Japan

Zoe Steyn shredding a wave on her way to an opening heat win at the ISA WSL in Japan. Photo courtesy of WSL / Reed

The Mercedes-Benz South African surfing team including East London's Greg Emslie (Coach) and recently crowned SA Women's champion , Zoe Steyn got off to a good start at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) in Miyazaki, Japan on Saturday.

A record setting 240 of the world's best surfers hailing from 55 nations will be competing from 7 - 15 September in the first event where athletes can qualify for surfing's inaugural appearance as an Olympic discipline in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The men in the Mercedes-Benz SA team include current World Surf League No. 2, Jordy Smith (Durban), 2018 Championship Tour campaigner Michael February (Kommetjie) and Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga).

With the first three days dedicated to the Women's competition, the opening day saw Australia based former Durbanite, Sarah Baum and Bianca Buitendag (Victoria Bay) both proceeding to the next rounds with runner up finishes in their opening heats.

Competing in only her second ISA WSG event, Steyn delivered South Africa's first two heat wins of the event on day 2, easily outpointing her rivals from Germany and China in round 1 and then finishing just 0.10 ahead of Peony Knight (GBR) in round 2. She then came up against seasoned international campaigners Rachel Presti (Germany) and Anali Gomez (Peru) in round 3.

Despite her best efforts, Steyn finished in third place, a heart-breaking four/hundredths of a point (0.04) behind Gomez which will now see her resume her challenge in the Women's Repercharge round 4 where any result other than first or second will see her eliminated from the event.

The SA team will be going all out to equal or better their copper-medal winning fourth place finish achieved in the 2018 team standings.

They will also be challenging for a medal in the ISA Aloha Cup, a form of relay surfing contested by the top seven nations from the previous year's World Surfing Games plus the host nation.

The team faces tough opposition from the world's best surfers including multiple World Champion and all time great, Kelly Slater (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), Gabriel Medina (Brazil), Carissa Moore (Hawaii) and defending event winners Santiago Muniz (Argentina) and Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia).

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