Cape Town - Jonathan Rorke stood tallest among the South African individual challenge at the 2017 International Surf Rescue Challenge (ISRC) held at Mt Maunganui in New Zealand.
Rorke also spearheaded South Africa’s three successive Test Day victories in the Beach Relay.
But the collective team effort among the men and women wasn’t enough over the course of the three days for South Africa to finish in the top three.
The United States, who trailed South Africa by a point after day two, were strong on the final day to comfortably end third, with South Africa’s placed fourth out of the seven nations competing.
The United States beat South Africa’s overall score by 22 points and Japan, in ending fifth, were just eight points off the South Africans. Great Britain were sixth and Canada seventh.
Australia, winners of the first Test and second Test days respectively won the third and final Test day, plus the overall event from hosts New Zealand.
Held since 1999, the event attracted seven countries from around the world to compete head-to-head in New Zealand for the title of International Surf Rescue Champions, and as an added bonus, allows teams to prepare for next year's Surf Life Saving World Championships.
The New Zealand Black Fins finished in second closely behind the dominant Australian team with their own stunning performance but say they will fight back at the World Championship event next year to retain their title as the current world champions.
Australia also won the youth category by 15 points over the New Zealand Junior Black Fins. South Africa finished in third, with Great Britain and USA fourth and fifth respectively in the Under-19 competition.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord said the event was a "huge success" and it was "an honour" to host the six visiting nations.
"We are proud to have hosted this event and shown the world how fantastic the beaches are here in New Zealand. The DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge was really well received all around the world and it was great to see so many supporters cheering on their team through social media,"
"So congratulations to all the athletes and the team management for their fair, yet fierce competitive spirit and putting on a good show. The result wasn't guaranteed until the final event finished and that's a real testament to the quality of competition here this week."
"I also want to thank all the officials, volunteers and event management for their tireless effort in putting this event on. We're hearing from teams that this one of the best ones yet, but it also wouldn't have been possible without the support from our generous sponsors," Mr Lord added.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said the Tauranga City Council is proud to support the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge and said "events like this are so much more than just a sports competition."
"The surf rescue challenge showcases our city and its natural environment to athletes and their supporters from all over the world, including Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, USA, Canada and Japan."
Alongside the DHL ISRC, the Tri-Nations Trophy was also contested at the event which includes New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Australia has dominated the Tri-Nations Trophy since it started and have continued their winning streak this weekend.
Full race-by-race results are available:
Visit the Facebook event page for photos and videos from the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge.
Selected SA results
Beach Sprint Relay: 1st (Bradley Odendaal, Dylan Bridger, Jonathan Rorke, Malec Odendaal)
Rescue Tube Rescue: 2nd (Bradley Odendaal, Daniel Jones, Dylan Bridger and Jonathan Rorke)
Beach Sprint: 2nd (Jonathan Rorke)
Surf Ski: 2nd (Matthew Bouwman)
Relay: 3rd (Candice Murray, Carmel Billson, Lauren Billson, Sasha-Lee Nordengen)
Rescue Tube Rescue: 3rd (Candice Murray, Carmel Billson, Lauren Billson, Sasha-Lee Nordengen)
Ocean Person: 4th (Carmel Billson)
Board Relay: 3rd (Carmel Billson, Malec Odendaal)
Beach Flags: 1st Runaldo Pedro
Beach Relay: 1st: (Cheyne Haupt, Joshua Templeton, Kurt Rautenbach, Runaldo Pedro)
Ocean Person Relay: 3rd (Cheyne Haupt, Connor Botha, Kurt Rautenbach, Matthew Maroun)
Rescue Tube Rescue: 3rd (Joshua Templeton, Kurt Rautenbach, Matthew Maroun, Runaldo Pedro)
Surf Race: 3rd Joshua Templeton
Ocean Person: 3rd Cheyne Haupt, 4th Matthew Maroun
Beach sprint: 3rd Megan Kreft
Rescue Tube Rescue: 2nd (Alexandra Chislett, Amica de Jager, Megan Kreft, Teegan Hardwick)
Surf teams: 3rd (Amica de Jager, Connor Botha, Joshua Templeton, Tamryn McKie)
Ski relay: 2nd (Matthew Maroun, Teegan Hardwick)