Alejo Muniz Jumps to Top of QS Rankings as Brazilians and Australians Dominate on Day 6
The world’s best surfers took to air at the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong on Saturday, performing gravity defying manoeuvres above the lip of the overhead, onshore waves at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza.
The last 24 competitors in the QS 10,000 rated event on the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) held nothing back, attacking the waves at Bather’s Beach during Round 3 in the morning and then boosting their way into the last 8 after the contest was moved 300 metres north to Surfer’s Beach for Round 4.
Alejo Muniz (BRA), No. 3 on the QS coming into Ballito, jumped to the top of the rankings when he comprehensively outpointed Medi Veminardi (REU) in Heat 1 of the Round of 16. Muniz relished the more powerful waves at Surfer’s Beach, dropping three scores in the excellent range (over 8.00 out of 10), with the top two totalling 17.16.
“Moving the event was the right choice,” Muniz said. “Here you can push on your turns more. As soon as I knew that they were going to change I tried to set up my mind to surf differently and I think it worked really well.”
“Going to the top of the rankings is very important. I was on the CT for four years and when I got out last year I felt like I could I could do it better, so I’m trying to get back to prove to myself that I can do it better. I know it’s a long way until the end of the year and I’m not thinking about winning, just about making heats.”
Seventeen year-old Kanoa Igarashi (USA), ranked No. 84 and on his first trip to South Africa, surprised former CT member Joan Duru (FRA) in their Round 4 duel by posting a massive 9.23 point ride to overtake the Frenchman and then extended his lead with a further 7.40.
“I was pretty out of rhythm that heat and just took a deep breath to reset my mind,” Igarashi said. “The first wave that came after that was the 9. It was such a perfect wave and I was in good position and surfed my hardest on it.”
“It’s my first time in South Africa and I love it so much. This is a huge result for me. I’m going jump up probably about 50, 60, 70 spots and that’s a huge confidence booster for my year, so I’m super excited.”
Muniz and Igarashi will face off in the first of the Quarterfinal heats on Sunday morning.
Mitch Coleborn (AUS) was another who benefitted from the move to Surfers Beach. The goofyfoot (rides with right foot in front) targeted the left breaking waves and used the wind to complete a huge slob-air that netted him an 8.17 and added a 7.33 to win his heat against fellow Australian and close friend Mitch Crews.
“I was with one of my buddies and I didn’t get the start that I wanted. Finally towards the end of the heat I found those two waves,” Coleborn said. “That was what I was looking for the whole time, those little southerly ramps into the wind. I’m stoked to make it the quarters. It’s my best result all year and hopefully I can keep the momentum going.”
Top seed Italo Ferreira (BRA) upped his game after finishing runner-up to compatriot Caio Ibelli in Round 4. The current World No. 8 progressed to the last eight with a consummate display of competition surfing, earning a near-perfect 9.40, the highest single ride of the day, for an incredibly high forehand aerial manoeuvre.
“My last wave was great. I did a big front side air on my first wave but I didn’t land it so I tried again and it worked,” Ferreira said. “I was so stoked when the heat ended and I’m super excited for the quarters.”
Ferreira faces Ibelli in the Quarterfinals in a rematch of their Round 3 encounter after Ibelli dispatched Ezekiel Lau, the last Hawaiian in the event. Coleborn is up against Santiago Muniz (ARG), the brother of Alejo, and the last of quarters sees an all-Australian duel between Davey Cathels and Soli Bailey.
The organisers will convene at 7am to decide on when to start the final day of competition. The 2015 Ballito Pro champion will be crowned on Sunday and all the action can be watched live at www.worldsurfleague.com and www.theballitopro.com
The Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag will be run between the Semifinals and Final featuring nine of the most progressive surfers in the event plus local standout Alan Johns. The surfer producing the most impressive performance during the 30 minute session will pocket R20 000. The winner of the Monster Energy Wave of the Week presented by Zigzag determined by video footage taken during the event takes home R25 000. See more details at https://theballitopro.com/expression-session/
The Ballito Pro Festival, the continent’s biggest beach festival, also comes to an end on Sunday after a week of beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. The final Tropika Ballito Pro Music Concert Powered by 5FM will be held at Salt Rock on Saturday evening.
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).
Ballito Pro Upcoming Quarter Final Match-Ups
Q1: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Q2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Q3: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) vs. Santiago Muniz (ARG)
Q4: Davey Cathels (AUS) vs. Soli Bailey (AUS)
Ballito Men’s Pro Round 4 Results
H1: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 17.16 def. Medi Veminardi (REU) 14.90
H2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 16.63 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 13.94
H3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.90 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 13.67
H4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.67 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.66
H5: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 15.50 def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.63
H6: Santiago Muniz (ARG) 14.10 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.83
H7: Davey Cathels (AUS) 14.17 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.07
H8: Soli Bailey (AUS) 10.66 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.50
Ballito Men’s Pro Round 3 Results
H1: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 16.50, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.50, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.87
H2: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.83, Medi Veminardi (REU) 12.13, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 11.43
H3: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 14.43, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.96, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 11.10
H4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.10, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.44, David do Carmo (BRA) 9.80
H5: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 14.23, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 12.06, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 11.73
H6: Santiago Muniz (ARG) 15.83, Mitch Crews (AUS) 14.43, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 13.17
H7: Davey Cathels (AUS) 15.20, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.10, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 14.10
H8: Soli Bailey (AUS) 16.37, Heitor Alves (BRA) 15.93, Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.50