Image Credit: © WSL/McGregor

Anon Matsuoka and Ryan Kainalo Win O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers

Anon Matsuoka (JPN) and Ryan Kainalo (BRA) won the World Surf League (WSL) O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 today in clean 3-4 foot waves with a light offshore wind. Alyssa Spencer(USA) and Daniel Emslie (RSA) finished runners-up respectively. All four surfers will be competing in the upcoming Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Challenger Series and enjoyed settling in and getting to know the break.


Anon Matsuoka Goes All The Way In Ballito
In the Women’s Final, Alyssa Spencer (USA) found a gem right from the start to fit in two beautiful turns for a 7.33 (out of a possible 10) to put Anon Matsuoka (JPN) under pressure. Matsuoka responded with a 6.90 and the game was on. Spencer upped the ante when she slashed two strong turns into the lip for an excellent 8.33. As the score dropped, Matsuoka paddled into one of the better waves of the day, running down the point, squeezing in three powerful turns for a near-perfect 9.17 to take the lead with a total of 16.07 (out of a possible 20). Spencer had one last opportunity, but the wave didn’t give her much to work with and Matsuoka earned a well-deserved win.

“I’m so happy and excited, Alyssa Spencer is one of my favourite surfers so I’m so happy I could surf with her,” reacted Matsuoka. “Next up is the Challenger Series, so I’ll just relax today and get ready for tomorrow. I love Ballito, it’s my first time here and the waves are so good, the food is good and the people too, I’m really enjoying it.”


Ryan Kainalo Successfully Defends Title In Ballito

The defending event winner, Ryan Kainalo (BRA) and South Africa’s Daniel Emslie (RSA) went toe-to-toe in an exciting Finals match-up. Kainalo locked in a 7.17 for a quick turn and a clean air reverse to take the lead. Emslie then whacked a massive turn into the lip and earned a 6.17 for just the one maneuver, and backed it up with committed and fast surfing to fit in three turns for 7.00. Kainalo looked comfortable in the heat, catching waves under priority until he found a great wave for a quick turn and smash the lip for a 7.83 and increase the requirement for Emslie. The South African never found another opportunity and Kainalo secured his second win in Ballito, retaining the O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers JQS 1,000 title.

“I love this place, every time I’m here I just have a lot of fun,” said Kainalo. “It’s good to be here and compete with just one guy in the water, it’s so special, and you can train for the Challenger Series. I’m feeling good and stoked to win. It’s probably better to get a good result in the CS, but to win a contest is never bad. I’m happy, but now I shift my focus to the CS and will try to make some heats.”

The Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Challenger Series runs from Sunday, July 2 through to Sunday, July 9, 2023.