Cape Town - The World team captained by South Africa's Jordy Smith and including SA's Bianca Buitendag made history by winning the inaugural World Surf League (WSL) Founders' Cup of Surfing in California on Sunday.
According to Team SA, the first-ever official event at the WSL Surf Ranch in front of a sellout crowd, was a showcase of incredible surfing and competition as the world’s best female and male surfers battled in teams for their home countries.
Highlighting how globally strong the sport of surfing is, it was the combined World team who took an incredibly tight win ahead of Brazil in second, USA in third, Australia in fourth and Europe in fifth.
World team was spearheaded by South African pair Smith (team captain) and Buitendag and superbly backed up by Michel Bourez (Tahiti), Paige Hareb (New Zealand) and Kanoa Igarashi (Japan).
Heading into the last heat of the final, Brazil held the lead and the World team needed a big performance from Smith on his last wave as he came up against USA team captain Kelly Slater and Filipe Toledo of the Brazil team. Under pressure, Smith delivered a phenomenal final ride to earn the required score for the team's victory at the Founders' Cup of Surfing.
"It's an incredible feeling to win as a team," said Smith. "That was a wild few days and this just leaves room for bigger and better things to come. We've been talking about it as a team all weekend, and you can't leave anything on the table when it comes to finals Day. You just let it all hang out and enjoy it, and if you can pull that off you'll walk away with a win. I think all week long we've been the underdogs and determination got us through it.
"Collectively, we just held our confidence up the whole time and supported each other all the way."
The stunning World team's victory saw all five surfers perform amazing feats in the final against the star-studded USA and Brazil teams.
In the Qualifying rounds, the World team actually finished in equal third place with Australia, which then forced a surf-off in order to advance. The sudden-death match-up against Australia saw Hareb clinch the win to qualify her team for the final that eventually opened the door for their first-place result.
The Brazil team finished second, fractionally ahead of US and Australia. Captain Gabriel Medina opened their final with an amazing 9.67 ride, the highest score in the final. Toledo, Silvana Lima, Adriano de Souza, and Taina Hinckel pushed progression to new heights with miraculous tube-rides and imaginative aerial manouevres.
Despite coming in second, the Brazil team acquired the event's highest single-wave scores and broke new ground at the WSL Surf Ranch. Toledo earned a Perfect 10 for his team, which also earned him the Jeep Best Ride Award for having the top-scoring wave of the contest. Toledo will drive out of Lemoore in the award’s prize, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
1 World team
2 Brazil team
3 USA team
4 Australia team
5 Europe team