The Ballito Pro and the Ballito Women’s Pro, both presented by Billabong, got underway in highly contestable one metre waves, light winds and warm sunshine at Willard Beach in Ballito today (Monday).
The women’s contest, a World Surf League (WSL) QS1,000 rated event with R20 000 in prize-money at stake, took to the early morning high tide conditions at Bathers Beach. With both right and left breaking waves available, organisers completed the second, third and fourth rounds, leaving just four surfers to contend the one-on-one semi-finals.
Sarah Baum (ZAF) was the standout performer, showcasing her crisp turns and strategic wave selection. Baum won all three of the heats she contested, delivering the highest single ride score, a near-perfect 9.67 out of 10, and the highest two-wave heat total – 16.27 out of 20.
“I waited a while and got that good first ride and then it was a bit tricky out there, but there were a couple good waves and I found my second one,” said Baum. “I’m happy to be back with my family and to see all my friends. It’s really good to be back in warm water and I’m hoping to do one or two events if I have enough points and money to get to them.”
Baum will be up against Nikita Robb from East London, the defending Ballito Women’s Pro champion, in the first of the semi-finals when the women’s contest resumes. The second semi features Skye Burgess (AUS,) whose dynamic style saw her progress through three rounds a duel with uMhlanga local Teal Hogg, where the winner advances to the final.
WSL Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie decided to move Round 1 of the men’s event to Surfer’s Beach as the tide dropped. With US $260 000 (about R4 million) at stake and the highest available rankings points on offer, competition was fierce from the outset and a number of results turned on the last ride.
The vastly experienced Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) found the best waves and delivered a heat total of 14.84, the highest of Round 1, to move through to the Round of 96 along with heat runner-up Jose Ferreira as the pair eliminated Takumi Nakamura (JAP) and Dale Lovelock (AUS) in the last heat of the day.
Other internationals to shine included Cory Arrambide (USA), Ian Crane (USA), Nic Von Rupp (PRT) and Victor Bernardo (BRA), all of whom are looking for a good result in Ballito to build momentum for the rest of the QS circuit in the second half of the year.
“I’m looking to get a good result here so I can maintain my spot and move forward for the second half of the year,” said Arrambide who hails from Ventura in California. “I got a few really good rides and got some decent scores, so I’m stoked. I’m playing it heat by heat and after growing up surfing amateur events and junior pros, I just trying to qualify.”
It was a disappointing day for the local men with Saturday’s Trials winner Casey Grant (Scottburgh), Dale Staples (St Francis Bay), David van Zyl (Glenashley) and Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) all eliminated in the first heats.
“It didn’t go as I planned – I thought I would be able to see a distinct peak but the waves are so tricky and it’s hard to find a runner,” said Lightfoot. “The standard is really high and the South Africans really need to up their game. Hopefully Mikey (February), Beyrick (de Vries) and Matt (McGillivray) can take it tomorrow.”
Organisers will meet at 7am local time for a possible 7.15 start. The Round of 96 sees the top seeds take to the surf, including Jordy Smith (ZAF), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Jeremy Flores (FRA).
All the action from the Ballito Pro, including live webcast while the event is running, can be found at www.worldsurfleague.com
Ballito Pro presented by Billabong Round 1 Results
Heat1. Victor Bernardo (BRA) 13.50, Derek Peters (USA) 13.00, Andy Criere (FRA) 10.84, Casey Grant (ZAF) 6.80
Heat2. Ian Crane (USA) 14.47, Nic Von Rupp (PRT) 13.66, Mason Ho (HAW) 11.97, Brian Toth (PRI) 11.67
Heat3. Lucas Silveira (BRA) 13.30, Leandro Usuna (ARG) 12.97, David Van Zyl (ZAF) 12.90, Hiroto Arai (JPN) 9.74
Heat4. Noah Schweizer (USA) 11.07, Robson Santos (BRA) 10.43, Dale Staples (ZAF) 9.46, Jean Da Silva (BRA) 8.97
Heat5. Seth Muniz (HAW) 12.50, Mihimana Braye (PYF) 10.00, Kaito Ohashi (JPN) 9.10, Torrey Meister (HAW) 7.74
Heat6. Cory Arrambide (USA) 14.60, Rafael Teixeira (BRA) 12.70, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 9.27, Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) 6.00
Heat7. Thomas Fernandez (PRT) 10.90, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.83, Kaito Kino (HAW) 9.17, Perth Standlick (AUS) 7.44
Heat8. Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 14.84, Jose Faulkner (PRT) 13.00, Takumi Nakamura (JPN) 12.73, Dale Lovelock (AUS) 11.73
Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong Upcoming Semi-Final Heats
Semi1: Sarah Baum (ZAF) vs. Nikita Robb (ZAF)
Semi2: Skye Burgess (AUS) vs. Teal Hogg (ZAF)
Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong Round of 8 Results
Heat1. Sarah Baum (ZAF) 16.27, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 12.27, Heather Clark (ZAF) 7.80, Olivia Brand (ZAF) 6.50
Heat2. Skye Burgess (AUS) 10.90, Teal Hogg (ZAF) 10.16, Faye Zoetmulder (ZAF) 8.50, Nicole Pallet (ZAF) 7.37
Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong Round of 16 Results
Heat1. Sarah Baum (ZAF) 14.33, Heather Clark (ZAF) 12.80, Emma Smith (ZAF) 10.00, Crystal Hulett (ZAF) 6.34
Heat2. Nikita Robb (ZAF) 9.66, Olivia Brand (ZAF) 7.60, Tarryn Chudleigh (ZAF) 6.90, Sam Cele (ZAF) 2.97
Heat3. Skye Burgess (AUS) 14.84, Teal Hogg (ZAF) 9.56, Danielle Johnson (ZAF) 6.10, Monik Santos (BRA) 5.63
Heat4. Faye Zoetmulder (ZAF) 10.50, Nicole Pallet (ZAF) 8.24, Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF) 7.97, Sophie Bell (ZAF) 6.53
Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong Round of 24 Results
Heat1. Sarah Baum (ZAF) 14.33, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 13.77, Zoe McDougal (HAW) 6.93, Olivia Izzard (ZAF) 5.20
Heat2. Tarryn Chudleigh (ZAF) 11.20, Crystal Hulett (ZAF) 9.00, Chanelle Botha (ZAF) 6.94, Monique Gresse (ZAF) 3.00
Heat3. Skye Burgess (AUS) 14.33, Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF) 7.83, Kirsty McGillivray (ZAF) 5.67, Gina Smith (ZAF) 2.83
Heat4. Faye Zoetmulder (ZAF) 12.83, Monik Santos (BRA) 11.00, Kayla Nogueira (ZAF) 9.00, Natasha Van Greunen (ZAF) 4.64