Mixed Emotions On Day 5 At The Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill
The wind played devil’s advocate on Day 5 in the Ballito Pro pres by O’Neill as the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 progressed into the business end of the competition. Conditions went from big and clean to choppy, challenging 1.2 – 1.5 metre (3-4ft) waves forcing competitors to change their strategies.
It was a big day for South Africa’s Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), despite being eliminated in 9th place, moving up the QS rankings as the highest placed South African and receiving the wildcard entry into the Corona Open J-Bay Championship Tour (CT) event from 9-22 July in Jeffrey’s Bay.
“I’ve been doing this for a while now so I’m used to surfing under pressure. And I think being at home helps so much, you can feel the energy and it almost felt like it was going to happen before it did.,” said De Vries. “I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m going to be surfing against (Gabriel) Medina or Kolohe (Andino) and there’s no holding back. I’m not going to surf for a 12.00 total, I’ll need 18 points to beat those guys and that can be liberating.”
Fellow South African, Jordy Smith (Durban) was happy to see De Vries advance and have another local in the Supertubes line-up.
“I’m stoked for Beyrick, I know it’s been a big dream for him to compete in Jeffrey’s so now that he’s in, he has to focus on what he wants,” said Smith.
Unfortunately, Smith was eliminated in his Round 9 encounter with Deivid Silva (BRA). It was a tough heat, with Smith looking for the aerial opportunities, while Silva stuck to throwing down power turns.
“Jordy surfs amazing but the waves are so hard. I’m just really glad to make another heat,” said Silva.
While it’s the end of the road in Ballito for Smith, his focus now shifts to the Corona Open J-Bay.
“Just being at home competing in front of friends and family, it’s very soothing and calming and it’s good to be in that mindset ahead of J-Bay. To be honest, it’s the best I’ve felt in my whole career, it’s a combination of a lot of stuff. You just need to keep adding to it, waking up every morning and keep on bettering yourself,” said Smith.
In the first heat of the day, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and Carlos Munoz (CRI) found a few gems in the slow and inconsistent conditions, leaving former World Champ Adriano de Souza wanting and was eliminated from the event.
“It’s always hard to realise you’re that close to making a heat. Ezekiel (Lau) was just a little bit ahead so it was really difficult,” said De Souza. “Now, heads up for J-Bay, my job here at Ballito is done so I think I’ll get out there and keep moving.”
It all came down to strategy in the onshore conditions. Brazilian Ian Gouveia was fully committed to a game-plan of power surfing and smashed his way to an excellent heat total of 16.40 to advance into the Quarterfinals ahead of Barron Mamiya (HAW) who launched into technical aerial attempts but couldn’t complete any.
“I knew I was going to have to get the best waves against Barron (Mamiya), he is capable of turning the heat around so I just stuck to my game plan,” said Gouveia.
For those who remain in contention, it’s D-Day on Sunday, 7 July for the 2019 Ballito Pro pres by O’Neill title and the 10,000 points on offer.