Zoe Steyn Wins Ballito Pro presented by O'Neill Women's QS1,000
Zoë Steyn (East London) won her maiden World Surf League (WSL) Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 at the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill in 3-4 foot (0.9-1.2 meter) surf ahead of Sarah Scott (Kommetjie).
The contest was on hold for a couple of hours in the morning, as organisers waited for conditions to improve with the incoming tide. It started off slow, but soon there were some great waves rolling through.
The Final was a match-up between two of the most on-form surfers in Ballito this week, Sarah Scott and Zoë Steyn, who also faced each other in the O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers Junior QS 1,000 where Steyn came out on top. After a strong Semifinal from Scott, it looked like luck might swing her way in the Final.
However, after a slow start, it was Steyn who got one of the better right-hand waves for two strong turns and a good finish to lock in a 6.50. She stuck to her strategy of catching the right-hand waves and backed up her score with a 5.17 for a total of 11.67. Scott uncharacteristically got stuck on a few crucial waves, not being able to complete her rides, and had to settle for second place.
Steyn Wins First-Ever Women’s Qualifying Series Title
“I’m so, so happy. It’s my first time winning a QS event and for it to be here is so special. The waves are really nice, all my friends are here, my mom is here, so I’m really happy. Ballito is predominantly a right-hander so it’s similar to home, it’s punchy and has a lot of power and I really enjoy it.”
With this win, Steyn jumps to the top of the 2021/2022 WSL Africa rankings.
“This win puts me in a good place for next year. I really want to qualify for the Challenger Series,” said Steyn.
Greg Emslie, who also coached South Africa’s Olympic silver-medalist Bianca Buitendag, said it was a very solid performance from Steyn.
“She’s been super consistent, sticking to the strategy and game plan, and it worked out really well. It was tough in that final, we made a call to go on the rights and it worked out very well. I’m stoked, couldn’t ask for much better, she had a great run. Pro Junior champ and Women’s champ, job well done,” said Emslie.
After losing out in back-to-back finals, Kommetjie’s Sarah Scott was still happy with her performance in Ballito.
“Every final was tough and hasn’t really gone my way, but my progress towards each final for these past couple events has been great. I enjoyed myself and I’m super happy with my semifinal today and stoked on what I achieved,” said Scott.
Heather Clark and Sophie Bell Eliminated in Semifinals
Zoë Steyn was up against one of South Africa’s most experienced women’s surfers, Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) in the first semifinal. With 30 minute heats, surfers patiently started to build on their scores, looking for those bigger opportunities. A few set waves came rolling through and Steyn jumped into the lead, defeating Clark for a spot in the finals.
In the second semifinal, it was local favourite Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) up against Sarah Scott who has been on fire all week long. Scott found one of the better waves of the morning and surfed it beautifully to take the lead. Soon after that, both ladies took off on a wave and split the peak with Bell going right and Scott opting to go left. The Capetonian got the better of the exchange for an excellent 8.50 and eliminated Bell who was in a combination situation.
Women’s Final Results
Zoë Steyn (East London) 11.67 DEF. Sarah Scott (Kommetjie) 2.94
Women’s Semifinal Results
Heat 1: Zoë Steyn (East London) 11.33 DEF. Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) 8.10
Heat 2: Sarah Scott (Kommetjie) 15.60 DEF. Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) 9.83