The world’s best surfers lit up the surf at Willard Beach in Ballito on Wednesday, posting huge scores as they took to the air at every opportunity on Day 3 of the R4 million Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, the first World Surf League (WSL) QS 10,000 rated event for 2016.

Greeted by a solid 1m to1.5m swell and light winds, which justified WSL Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie’s call to postpone the start of Round 2 until today, the competitors revelled in the conditions and several elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) members were ousted early in the event by hungry Qualifying Series (QS) contenders.

Second seed and world No. 8 Caio Ibelli (BRA) will be packing his bags after finishing third in his heat behind Spanish veteran Aritz Aranburu and Bino Lopes (BRA), and he will be joined in heading for the next event in Jeffreys Bay by fellow CT surfers Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Keanu Asing (HAW) and 2015 Ballito champion Alejo Muniz (BRA).

South Africa’s Jordy Smith produced an accomplished performance to comfortably win his opening encounter in the event he won in 2010, and advanced to the Round of 48 along with fellow top seeds Jeremy Flores (FRA), Ryan Callinan (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA) and Patrick Gudauskas (USA).

“I managed to find a few good faces and got some turns going,” said Smith. “The first heat in an event is probably the most nerve-wrecking so I’m just happy to get that one out of the way. Hopefully through the week we’ll get some better conditions and the guys are going to be doing some great surfing.”

Beyrick de Vries from nearby uMhlanga joined Smith in Round 3 thanks to a strong performance where he emerged victorious in a stacked heat that included Igarashi, Brazilian standout Lucas Silveira and the 2015 US Open of Surfing Champion Hiroto Ohhara (JAP) who also advanced as the heat runner-up.

Joshua Moniz (HAW), who turned 20 on Monday and is currently ranked No. 14 on the QS, was one of the day’s standouts, finding a perfect ramp and performing a flawless high-flying air-reverse that earned him a near-perfect 9.60 out of 10 from the judges – the highest single ride score of the day,

“I was stoked that I got lucky with that one. I kinda had my eye out for air sections and when I saw that one I was thinking that if I could get a turn in, I could fly the air and hopefully land it,” said Moniz. “Where I live on the South Shore of Oahu it’s a pretty similar wave so I get excited to see the wind blowing into the rights. I just want to make some heats in the event and I hope to qualify this year, or any year in the future.”

After a 30 minute break in competition due to a power failure, organisers decided to move the competition area from Bathers’ Beach to the adjacent Surfers’ Beach. The change suited former Ballito event winner Patrick Gudauskas (USA) who got the nod in a tightly contested heat that saw all four surfers finish within 2.5 points of each other.

“I was stoked that they moved the event back to Surfers’ beach. It was fun to have a little change up,” said Gudauskas. “The heat started slow but then I started to catch rhythm. I love the waves here and I would be excited to make a few more heats. Winning in 2011 was the highlight of my career because I had such good waves and it would be fun to do something like that again.”

Veteran campaigner and former CT member Nathan Hedge (AUS), who was really happy to finish second in his heat and advance to the next round, highlighted some of the issues the top competitors have to contend with as they travel the globe chasing points to qualify for the elite CT ranks.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster sort of a day because we were off and then on again, and the venue changed from Bathers to Surfers,” said Hodge. “You wake up jet-lagged at 3am and I’ve just surfed at 4pm in the afternoon. But it’s always good to get through the first leg. These QS10,00’s are so heavily weighted and they’re where the real points are so everyone’s in with a shot, even up to Hawaii in December.”

Organisers will meet at 7am local time tomorrow (Thursday) and hope to make a call for a start at 7.15. When competition resumes, the first heat in the water will see CT rookie Jack Freestone (AUS) up against Ramzi Boukhiam (MOR), Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Rafael Texeira (BRA).

Highlights from today’s action will be found at

Ballito Pro presented by Billabong Round 2 Results
Heat1. David do Carmo (BRA) 13.60, Messias Felix (BRA) 12.13, Victor Bernardo (BRA) 11.73, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 10.07
Heat2. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 15.23, Tim Reyes (USA) 12.23, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.17, Johnathan Gonzalez (CNY) 9.67
Heat3. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 17.90, Deivid Silva (BRA) 13.10, Derek Peters (USA) 12.23, Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.47
Heat4. Ian Crane (USA) 14.83, Charles Martin (GLP) 13.16, Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.00, Santiago Muniz (ARG) 11.83
Heat5. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.53, Michael Dunphy (USA) 11.86, Pedro Henrique (PRT) 11.43, Nic Von Rupp (PRT) 9.74
Heat6. Soli Bailey (AUS) 13.23, Kai Hing (AUS) 12.40, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 8.97, Marco Giorgi (URY) 6.77
Heat7. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 15.77, Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 15.53, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.40, Timothee Bisso (GLP) 11.37
Heat8. Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 15.20, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 14.17, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.47, Lucas Silveira (BRA) 10.74
Heat9. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 17.34, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 14.40, Leandro Usuna (ARG) 14.10, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 3.50
Heat10. Billy Stairmand (NZL) 13.96, Noah Schweizer (USA) 12.07, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.86, Marco Fernandez (BRA) 11.24
Heat11. Joan Duru (FRA) 15.26, Cooper Chapman (AUS) 14.10, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 11.13, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 10.33
Heat12. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.77, Thomas Woods (AUS) 12.83, Mitch Crews (AUS) 10.80, Robson Santos (BRA) 9.13
Heat13. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 12.90, Bino Lopez (BRA) 12.43, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.17, Seth Moniz (HAW) 10.86
Heat14. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.40, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.33, Miguel Tudela (PER) 12.30, Medi Veminardi (REU) 11.84
Heat15. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.07, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.57, Mihimana Braye (PYF) 10.53, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 10.47
Heat16. Joshua Moniz (HAW) 15.43, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 14.00, Cory Arrambide (USA) 13.13, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.53

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.