Excellent Scores At Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill
Despite the unpleasant weather and tough conditions, the Ballito Pro pres by O’Neill World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event saw some of the best scores of the event. A bigger swell and gusty, strong cross-shore winds made for punchy 1 – 1.2 (3-4ft) metre waves that was perfect to showcase the competitors’ aerial repertoire.
South Africa’s Jordy Smith (Durban) casually scored the highest single wave score of the event. Smith started small and shifted his focus to the lefts to look for a section to complete an air, but couldn’t find anything, and then found a beautiful right-hander with less than 5 minutes to go, hacking it to pieces for a 9.57.
“You’ve got to roll the dice in conditions like this,” said Smith. “There weren’t a lot of opportunities, but I surf this wave a lot and I’ve surfed it enough to know exactly what I need. I tried two, three lefts and it didn’t work out, so I switched the game plan to wait for a longer right and then I got the nine-something.”
Smith is the only other South African along with Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) left in contention after Durban’s David van Zyl exited the competition after a third place finish in his heat today.
Last year’s runner-up in Ballito, Jack Freestone (AUS) ahead of the former World Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) in the first heat of the day, sending Marcos Correa (BRA) and Miguel Tudela (PER) home.
“It was tough, there were talented surfers in that heat. Every heat here looks like a final. It was probably the hardest conditions to compete in, hopefully there will be more swell with the southerly wind, but it was so difficult,” said Freestone.
It was an unlucky draw for brothers Wiggolly and Weslley Dantas (BRA) who had to face each other in a heat with Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Keanu Asing (HAW). Wiggolly jumped into first with a 7.33 and 7.07 ride for a total of 14.40, less than half a point ahead of fellow Brazilian Gouveia in second place, with Weslley Dantas and Asing eliminated.
“I really wanted to make my heat with my brother, the conditions aren’t super good but it’s still fun. I know it’s good for airs and I went for the backside airs, but my brother didn’t have the waves to get those airs,” said Dantas. “It’s hard surfing against Weslley, it’s the second time this year, and a second win but stoked to get through. My board is feeling mental, I’m feeling confident and I’m really happy to be here. I was out of the water for three months last year with a leg injury, so everything is super happy for me right now and I’m stoked to be in Africa.”
While the wind did make things extremely tough for some, others embraced the gusty southerly. Barron Mamiya (HAW) went flying for a massive rotation to land cleanly in the flat section of a left-hander and the judges didn’t hesitate to drop an excellent 9.17 and he advanced to the next round.
With a building swell and light winds forecast for Saturday, 6 July it’s going to be an action-packed weekend and a winner will be crowned on Sunday, 7 July.