Casey Grant (Scottburgh) dominated the SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong at Willard Beach in Ballito on Sunday to earn a the final berth 112 man field for the R4 million WSL QS10,000 rated Ballito Pro presented by Billabong which starts at the same venue on Monday.
Grant, the runner-up to Jordy Smith in the 2010 edition of the Ballito event, posted five of the top 10 scores during the one-day Trials event and came storming back from an uncharacteristically slow start in the final to snatch victory with an excellent ride in the last minute.
“I fell on my first wave so I was a little bit nervous, but I got a good one and was in third place and knew that the judges reward you if you go for broke,” said Grant. “I was lucky enough to get a wave with a lip and I pulled off a little air-reverse and the judges rewarded me for that. It’s an awesome feeling to make it into the main event again as I haven’t been competing for a while now.”
Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay), the runner up the Billabong Junior Series QS1,000 event yesterday, looked like he was on his way to victory when he seamlessly stitched together three vertical backhand manoeuvres that earned him a near-perfect 9.50 with just four minutes remaining.
Needing an excellent 8.44 for to take the lead, Grant earned an 8.67 for his last ride, relegating Maree, the WSL Africa Junior rankings leader, to the runner-up spot for the second time in as many days. Chad du Toit (Durban) and Slade Prestwich finished third and fourth respectively.
Grant will get his Ballito Pro campaign underway in the first heat of the event where he faces Victor Bernardo (BRA), Derek Peters (USA) and Andy Criere (FRA). The top two in each heat advance to the next round while the surfers finishing third and fourth are eliminated with earnings of US $500 (about R7 500).
The two heats in the first round of the QS 1,000 Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong were run between the semi-finals and the final of the Trials event. Zoe McDougall, the 16 year-old Hawaiian who won the U18 Girl’s Junior final yesterday, was again the standout performer.
McDougall and Tarryn Chudleigh (Kommetjie) advanced from the first heat with Ballito local Tammy-Lee Smith and Faye Zoetmulder (Port Elizabeth) progressing to the Round of 24 from Heat 2.
The Ballito Pro and the Ballito Women’s Pro run from Monday 27 June to Sunday 3 July.
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 sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring the ‘Fire up your stoke: Night of food & wine’, an extreme sports programme and an exciting retail area, while the Five Star Ballito Pro Free Music Concerts powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.