The stage is set for Finals Day at the Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill, Stop No. 3 of the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS) , after completing the men’s and women’s Quarterfinals on Sunday.

Standing out as one of the most in form surfers in Ballito, Vahine Fierro’s (FRA) backhand brilliance dominated her Quarterfinal clash against top seed Isabella Nichols (AUS). Fierro was in sync with the ocean, finding the two best waves of the heat to let her backhand shine in the early morning glow. The judges rewarded her with an excellent 8.00 and 9.00 (out of a possible 10) for a total of 17.00 (out of a possible 20), eliminating Nichols from the competition.

“I have so much respect for Isabella, she is such an experienced surfer,” Fierro commented. “I had to give my absolute best in this heat and I’m really happy to take the win. A well-rounded surfer is the best in the world, so big waves or small, you need to find the motivation to be the best you can be in any conditions and I love the challenge.”

Continuing her impressive momentum in Ballito, Sophia Medina (BRA) earned a great heat win over Ellie Harrison (AUS) with a calculated approach in the smaller waves. Medina will have to bring her absolute best to Finals Day where she will meet Fierro in the first Semifinal.

“I can’t believe it, I’m just so grateful to God for his guidance in my life,” Medina said. “Ellie is such an incredible competitor, everyone here is surfing really well, I have so much respect for all of them. It was a tough heat, the waves changed a lot but I’m really glad I made this round.”

It was heartbreak for Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) who fought bravely for her spot in the Quarterfinals yesterday, only to bow out today against Tessa Thyssen(FRA) in another agonisingly close heat.

“Sally is a tough competitor,” Thyssen reacted. “She beat me at Snapper in the Round of 16 so I’m really happy to get this one. I knew she could get the score anytime, but I’m glad we had a good battle.”

Thyssen will meet Bella Kenworthy (USA) in the Semifinals, after Kenworthy first had to overcome Francisca Veselko (POR) in the Round of 16 at the start of the day and later defeated Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) in the Quarters.
Groggia, Gouveia Set Up Brazilian Battle In Semifinals

Edgard Groggia (BRA) has been on a tear despite feeling under the weather since arriving in Ballito. Groggia paddled out for the first men’s Quarterfinal of the day against Keijiro Nishi (JPN) and immediately started taking to the air. After warming up with two mid-range scores, the Brazilian launched a lofty frontside rotation, grabbing the rail and riding it out for an excellent 9.00 to take the win.

“I don’t believe it, this week has been so hard being sick,” Groggia said. “This heat was hard, because the wind is really strong but it’s also good for airs. I was nervous in the beginning, but when I landed my first air I felt better. I used my old board with a broken nose, but it’s a magical board. I’m ready for Finals Day.”

Groggia will meet Ian Gouveia (BRA) in the Semifinals for an all-Brazilian matchup. In his Quarterfinal heat against Hiroto Ohhara (JPN), Gouveia had to adapt to the conditions and rely on his turns instead of going for the aerial maneuvers. Both surfers rode 13 waves in the 35 minutes, but Gouveia got the win with a pair of six point rides.

“That was a tough heat, I knew I would have to get a strong start against Hiroto,” Gouveia said. “I think it’s the first time I beat Hiroto! I wanted to get the best waves I could and I’m stoked I didn’t have to do any airs, I’ll save that for tomorrow.”

Stage Set For Finals Day

Nolan Rapoza (Photo by Kody McGregor/World Surf League)

Nolan Rapoza (USA) continues his impressive form in Ballito, punching his ticket to the Semifinals after defeating Jackson Bunch (HAW).  “I think I got lucky,” Rapoza said after scoring an excellent 8.00 for a quick snap and a big turn into the oncoming end section.  “Jackson had a look at that wave and didn’t go, I had to hold him off and the second section was too good not to crack. I think it was probably the best wave of the heat and Jackson would’ve been able to get an 8 on that wave too.”

Rapoza will meet Winter Vincent (AUS) in the Semifinals after Vincent beat good friend Justin Becret (FRA) in the last heat of the day.