The world’s best surfers revelled in the glassy one metre well shaped waves at Bather’s Beach in KwaDukuza on the opening day of the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, posting several scores in the excellent range (over 8.00 out of 10).
The third of nine QS 10,000 rated events on the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS), the Ballito Pro offers the highest available rankings points towards qualification for the elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) and has attracted a 96-man field of the world top ranked surfers.
After checking the conditions at 7am, organisers opted to move the event from the main venue at Surfer’s Beach to Bathers Beach, 300 metres to the south, where the waves offered the competitors higher potential to produce the spectacular surfing they are capable of.
Alejo Muniz (BRA), a former Top 34 ranked surfer, made excellent use of his pre-event practice sessions to record rides of 9.00 and 7.50 for a heat tally of 16.50, the second highest of the day, to win Heat 2 and advance to the Round of 48.
“You know it was funny because I’ve been surfing that little right for the past five days,” Muniz said. “We never had a heat over there but it just looked so much better than in front of the contest and today I had to surf my heat over there, so I felt like I knew where to surf more than the other guys. It was pretty cool.”
“I’ve been on the CT for four years and I really want to come back cause I feel like I can do better, so I’m just really focused on this QS. Every Prime (QS 10,000) event is really important but for some reason here in Ballito is really special. I really like this place and the year that I qualify my first time I had to keep my results here so hopefully I can do it well again.”
Brent Dorrington (AUS) claimed the highest heat tally of the day when he racked up scores of 8.93 and 7.67 for total 16.60 to win Heat 8 and progress to Round 2 along with second placed Tomas Fernandes (PRT). The pair caused a major upset by eliminating local favourite and current World No. 18, Jordy Smith (ZAF), in the process.
“It’s been super small and just winning the heat against Jordy, I was stoked,” Dorrington said. “It was a bit of a seesaw heat, the lead kept changing and the guy from Portugal (Fernandes) was getting bombs. I went into second and needed a big score, then I got my 8.9 towards the end, about 5 minutes left, and there wasn’t many waves after that.”
Smith, competing for first time since recovering from a serious knee injury, was hoping for a long run in the event he won in 2010. The Durbanite will be hoping that more practice will prepare him for the second half of the season after finishing fourth in the heat behind third placed Granger Larsen (HAW).
The South African was joined on the sidelines by last year’s winner Tim Reyes (USA), who bowed out in the first heat of the day, and Tanner Gudauskas (USA), the 2009 winner, who despite earning the highest single score of the day, a 9.10, could not find a high-scoring second ride and was ousted by Heat 4 winner Medi Veminardi (REU) and CT rookie Matt Banting (AUS).
Others to shine in the rippable conditions included junior standouts Kanoa Igarashi and fellow American Griffin Colapinto, Costa Rica’s Noe Mar McGonagle and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA).
A combination of incoming tide and a brisk onshore wind that marred the wave quality led to organisers calling a halt to the day’s action at the end of Heat 9. They will convene at 7am on Tuesday morning to make the call on when to restart the event.
When the contest resumes, Michael February, South Africa’s highest ranked QS surfer, will be up against experienced CT campaigner Adrian Buchan (AUS), Maxime Huscenot (FRA) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW) in Heat 10.
The competitors in the Ballito Pro will also be competing for valuable specialty prizes in the Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag and the Monster Energy Wave of the Week presented by Zigzag which will reward the respective winners with R20 000 and R25 000 each. See more details at http://theballitopro.com/expression-session/
While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza by offering the best in beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring an
extreme sports programme, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival and an exciting retail area while the Tropika Ballito Pro Music Concerts Powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.
The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).
Ballito Pro Round 1
H1: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.84, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 11.67, Tim Reyes (USA) 8.90
H2: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 16.50, Marco Fernandez (BRA) 15.70, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 13.90, Chris Ward (USA) 9.96
H3: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.20, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 12.20, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.23, Luke Davis (USA) 10.27
H4: Medi Veminardi (REU) 16.30, Matt Banting (AUS) 15.33, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.37, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 13.94
H5: Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.43, David do Carmo (BRA) 12.80, Vicente Romero (ESP) 11.20, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.57
H6: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.16, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.10, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 11.27, Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 9.23
H7: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) 13.00, Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 12.76, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 9.93, Marlon Lipke (PRT) 6.60
H8: Brent Dorrington (AUS) 16.60, Tomas Fernandes (PRT) 15.33, Granger Larsen (HAW) 15.16, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.10
H9: Hiroto Arai (JPN) 10.17, Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.80, Deivid Silva (BRA) 8.24, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.00