Nikita Robb from East London won the Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza on Sunday, producing an assured performance in the tricky one metre waves to outshine South Africa’s top women surfers.

A World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 event, the Ballito Women’s Pro is the first internationally rated event to be run in South Africa since 2009. The event offered total prize-money of R30 000 and coveted points on the QS rankings.

Robb, who competed at the highest levels of the sport, including a spending a year on the elite Championship Tour (CT) in 2010, defeated Fay Zoetmulder (Port Elizabeth), local junior Teal Hogg (Umhlanga) and veteran Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) in the Final to claim the R10 000 winner’s paycheque and 1 000 points.

“It’s just such an honour to have won this event,” Robb said. “I came up to Ballito a couple of days early and just surfed every day. It’s been a long time since I surfed an event and I really had to get my head into it.”

Nikita Robb (East London) on her way to victory in the Ballito Women’s Pro, a WSL QS 1,000 rated event at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza on Sunday. Photo: WSL / Ballito Pro / Cestari
Nikita Robb (East London) on her way to victory in the Ballito Women’s Pro, a WSL QS 1,000 rated event at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza on Sunday.
Photo: WSL / Ballito Pro / Cestari

“I started in Round One and had to surf four heats, so I worked hard for it. It wasn’t just a matter of one day and I’m getting 10 Grand, it was a matter of me putting the effort in the water, spending endless hours being the only girl out there and really getting to know the wave. I put the effort in and that’s what really counts.”

History was made at the event when 16-year-old Samukeliswe Cele (Durban) became the first female Zulu surfer to compete in a WSL event. Cele showed plenty of potential and finished third in her Quarterfinal.

“I’m grateful, excited and it was kind of nerve-wracking. I’m no pro and I was very nervous but I knew I could do something out there because I’m good surfer also,” said Cele. “It was fun and I really want to become a professional surfer. The one thing I want to be is a champion, the world champion, I want to win the world tour.”

The Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong, which ran in conjunction with the women’s event, was won by Robson Santos (BRA) whose dynamic manoeuvres and superior wave selection proved the difference in the Final.

Santos finished ahead of compatriot Flavio Nakagima (BRA), 18-year-old Matt McGillivray (ZAF) from Jeffreys Bay and Japan’s Reo Inaba. Santos and Nakagima secured the two coveted trialists slots in the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, the R3 million, QS 10,000 rated event that starts on Monday and runs until Sunday 5 July.

“For me this win is very important for getting points in the Prime (QS10,000) event. The Final was very, very hard, but I got two waves – and 8.50 and a 7.50 – and that was enough.”

All the results and images from Sunday’s action can be found on the photos page, and the live feed/results page.

While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza by offering the best in beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring an extreme sports programme, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival and an exciting retail area while the Tropika Ballito Pro Music Concerts Powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.

The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).