Top Seeds Stumble in Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill

BALLITO, KWADUKUZA, KwaZulu-Natal/South Africa – The crowds gathered on Willard Beach for another full day of world class surfing in the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event. Inconsistent conditions with 1.0 – 1.3 metre (3-4ft) waves made for slow, low-scoring heats and saw big names drop out of the event.

In one of the big upsets of the day, defending event winner Peterson Crisanto was eliminated in an all-Brazilian heat with Lucas Silveira and Flavio Nakagima advancing ahead of Crisanto and Rafael Teixeira. The Brazilians are known for their explosive surfing and aerial skills, but it was a surprisingly quiet heat.

“Conditions aren’t easy, but it’s fun,” said Silveira. “It’s definitely not easy with the other guys all Brazilians, they all surf really good. I started slow but it was a good heat in the end. I think this is the most important event for everyone here

The highest placed South African in the Ballito Pro pres by O’Neill will get a wildcard entry into the Corona J-Bay Open Championship Tour (CT) event next week and David van Zyl (Durban) was determined to increase his chances of earning that coveted award by advancing to the next round.

Van Zyl blasted out of the starting blocks to quickly bank two decent scores and then continued roaming the line-up to build on his total. His opponents Gatien Delahaye (FRA) and Australians  Matt Banting and Dion Atkinson waited for the set waves, but Van Zyl was surfing with a lot more commitment and won the heat with a total of 12.50. Banting advanced in second place while Delahaye and Atkinson were eliminated in third and fourth.

David van Zyl (Durban) advanced to the Round of 48 in the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill at Willard Beach, KwaDukuza on Thursday
Credit: WSL/Janssens

“I knew it was a hard heat and my plan was to sit wider and shake off the nerves with a quick wave,” said Van Zyl. “I started with small scores but managed to get two decent ones. J-Bay is my favourite wave so that’s my dream, but we’ll see how it goes. I hope I can pull a good result out of the bag and make South Africa proud.”

Inspired by Van Zyl’s performance, the locals were hoping Matthew McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) could continue flying the SA flag high, but a hungry Marco Giorgi (URY) stopped him in his tracks with an incredible, last hurrah manoeuvre. Bino Lopes (BRA) finished second ahead of McGillivray and CT member and 2017 event runner-up Willian Cardoso (BRA).

The Round of 48 started with Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) lifting the mood of the locals in a nail-biting heat against Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) and Jadson Andre (BRA). With a flurry of waves ridden at the death, De Vries had one last chance and popped into the air and finished in the flats to get the score he needed to advance to the last 24.

“I knew I only had one section to throw the tail,” said De Vries. “It was nice to get the score in the last minute, because I’ve been on the other side of that situation before. It actually happened against Jadson (Andre) in Australia earlier this year, so it was so good to get that score. Sport is amazing like that!”

Following De Vries’ victory, South Africa’s Michael February (Kommetjie) couldn’t find a decent backup score in the last heat of the day and will have to watch from the sidelines for the rest of the event.

Contest organisers will make an early call at 07:00 on Friday, 5 July to decide when to get the balance of the Round of 48 underway.

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Alongside the surfing, visitors will be spoiled for choice with non-stop activities providing even more entertainment throughout the Ballito festival site. South Africa’s hottest musical acts appealing to all tastes – rock, pop, hip hop, kwaito, electro and dance – will be performing live on Salt Rock Beach over the last weekend. Beach and extreme sports, culinary contests as well as quality retail and food stalls will captivate visitors to this coastal holiday highlight.