Top Seeds Stumble At Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill

The crowds gathered on Willard Beach for another full day of world class surfing in the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event. Inconsistent conditions with 1.2 – 1.5 metre (3-4ft) waves made for slow, low-scoring heats, and saw big names drop out of the event.

In one of the big upsets of the day, defending event winner Peterson Crisanto was eliminated in an all-Brazilian heat with Lucas Silveira and Flavio Nakagima advancing ahead of Crisanto and Rafael Teixeira. The Brazilians are known for their explosive surfing and aerial skills, but it was a surprisingly quiet heat.

“Conditions aren’t easy, but it’s fun. It’s definitely not easy with the other guys, all Brazilians, they all surf really good. I started slow but it was a good heat in the end. I think this is the most important event for everyone here,” said Silveira.

The highest placed South African in the Ballito Pro pres by O’Neill will get a wildcard entry into the Corona J-Bay Open Championship Tour (CT) event and David van Zyl (Durban) was determined to increase his chances and advance to the next round.

Van Zyl blasted out of the starting blocks to quickly bank two decent scores and then continued roaming the line-up to build on his total, while Gatien Delahaye (FRA), Matt Banting (AUS) and Dion Atkinson (AUS) waited for the set waves. Van Zyl was surfing with a lot more commitment and won the heat with a total of 12.50, with Banting in second, while Delahaye and Atkinson were eliminated in third and fourth.

“I knew it was a hard heat and my plan was to sit wider, shake the nerves with a quick wave. I started with small scores and managed to get two decent ones. J-Bay is my favourite wave so that’s my dream, but we’ll see how it goes. I hope I can get a good result out of the bag and make South Africa proud,” said Van Zyl.

Inspired by Van Zyl’s performance, the locals were hoping Matthew McGillivray (Jeffrey’s Bay) could continue flying the SA flag high, but a hungry Marco Giorgi (URY) stopped him in his tracks with an incredible, last hurrah maneuver. Bino Lopes (BRA) was in second, with McGillivray and Championship Tour (CT) surfer Willian Cardoso (BRA) eliminated.

Beyrick de Vries (Durban) managed to lift the mood in a nail-biting heat against Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) and Jadson Andre (BRA). With a flurry of waves ridden at the death, De Vries only had one chance and popped into the air and finished in the flats to get the required score and advance to the next round.

“I knew I only had one section to throw the tail. It was nice to get the score in the last minute, because I’ve been on the other side of that draw before. It actually happened against Jadson Andre in Australia earlier this year, so it was so good to get that score, sport is amazing like that,” said De Vries.

Following De Vries’ victory, South Africa’s Michael February (Kommetjie) couldn’t find a decent backup score in the last heat of the day and will have to watch from the sidelines for the rest of the event.

Contest organisers will make an early call at 07:00 on Friday, 5 July to continue the Round of 48.