Picture Perfect Start For Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill
It was a beautiful start to the first day of competition for the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event. Clean 1,2 – 1,5 metre (4-5ft) waves and a light offshore wind provided the perfect playground for the world’s best surfers down at Ballito, KwaDukuza.
Local knowledge and home crowd support paid off for Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) who won his heat, advancing ahead of Jordy Lawler (AUS) while Championship Tour (CT) competitor Seth Moniz (HAW) and Charly Martin (FRA) were sent packing.
“I’m happy to get the first heat at home out of the way. The 10,000 points on offer gets you amped, but also seeing familiar faces on the beach as you run down, it’s always better when it’s at home. This is the best forecast we’ve had in years, the sand is the best we’ve had in four, five years. The conditions, the banks, the people, everything is here!” said De Vries.
Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), inspired by his sister Leilani McGonagle’s runner-up finish in the Ballito Women’s Pro pres. by O’Neill, won his heat ahead of South African Michael February (Kommetjie), while Alonso Correa (PER) and Jack Robinson (AUS) were eliminated.
“I’m super stoked coming back to Ballito, waves are super fun this year. It was my strategy to start by the rocks and that first wave came my way, even though it wasn’t in my top two it set me in a good rhythm. I’ve been practising in a lot of beach breaks in preparation for this, and I’m feeling good,” said McGonagle.
February’s inspiring 3rd place finish at the Ballito Pro in 2017 helped him tremendously to earn a spot on the CT for 2018, but after falling off the Dream Tour, South Africans would love to see the stylish goofy-footer get another good result in Ballito.
It didn’t go as planned for the other South African hopefuls, with Slade Prestwich (Durban), Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay) and Adin Masencamp (Strand) eliminated from the event.
In the Round of 112, Wiggoly Dantas (BRA) was loving the waves on offer and smashed his heat for the highest score in the first round with a total of 16.83 out of a possible 20.
“I feel really good and the waves are pumping,” said Dantas. “Every year coming here we get good waves and it’s a super special place for me, Africa is amazing and I always have a great time coming here with good friends. Traveling with my brother gives me great confidence, we’ve both been making heats and having fun.”
The forecast is looking smaller for Wednesday, 3 July but with the low tide in the morning and light winds, organisers will make the call at 06:30 for 07:00am SAST.