BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Friday, 27 June 2023) – The World Surf League (WSL) O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookies Rippers Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) kicked off Ballito’s two weeks of surfing action in epic conditions. With offshore winds for most of the day and 4 to 6-foot waves, the conditions allowed organisers to complete three rounds of competition for the Men and two rounds for the Women.

Ryan Kainalo On Track To Defend Event Title

The defending Men’s winner, Ryan Kainalo (BRA), launched his campaign for the title with an excellent Opening Round heat win and showed no signs of slowing down. Kainalo scored two excellent rides, an 8.17 and 8.27 (out of a possible 10) for a total of 16.44 (out of a possible 20) from the start to put Luc Lepront (RSA), Ntokozo Maphumulo (RSA) and Ben Esterhuyse (RSA) in a combination situation. Lepront finished second to advance alongside the Brazilian.

The Men’s Quarterfinals saw some nail-biting clashes. Kainalo had a tight heat against local James Ribbink (RSA). Still, Ribbink fell just 0.67 points short and was eliminated from the competition. Durban’s Nate Colby (RSA) and Luc Lepront (RSA) were tied with 12.17 each, but Lepront earned a spot in the Semifinals because his 7.17 was the single highest wave score in the heat. Mitch du Preez (RSA) edged out Jordan Boshoff (RSA) by less than half a point. In one of the bigger upsets of the day, East London’s Daniel Emslie (RSA) eliminated Luke Thompson (RSA) to book the last Semifinal spot.

Zoë Steyn Goes Excellent To Book Quarterfinals Berth

South Africa’s Zoë Steyn left nothing to chance in her Round of 16 heat when she faced Alyssa Spencer (USA), who is currently in the top five on the Women’s Challenger Series rankings and scored an excellent heat win in the Opening Round earlier in the day. Steyn immediately put her competitors under pressure when she opened with an excellent 8.33 and then backed it up with a 7.90 for a total of 16.23. Spencer didn’t put up much of a fight and finished in second to advance to the Quarterfinals, where she will come up against fellow American Ella McCaffray.

Zoe Steyn South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League)

Fresh off a massive win at the Krui Pro QS 5,000 in Indonesia, Anon Matsuoka (JPN) booked her spot in the Quarterfinals with a convincing performance in the Round of 16. Matsuoka will face Kira Hofmeyr (RSA) when the competition resumes. Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) and Adriel Wolmarans (RSA) round out the Women’s Quarterfinals.