Late on Tuesday afternoon a Southerly wind started to blow in Ballito. As the sun faded away the wind got stronger and stronger. Any North Coast surfer knows that a strong Southerly wind means a strong Southerly swell to follow. The forecast supported this theory and upon sunrise on Day 5 it was confirmed. 6-8ft lines peeled into the bay at Willards and although the wind had not yet settled there were still some quality waves to be found.
The call was made and the mens Round of 32 hit the water. On a day like that it’s always gonna be about power surfing and committing to big sections and Day 5 was just that. The surfers that prevailed were the ones that dug into the rail and committed to tagging the heavy close out sections. The only Saffa left on the Mens side of the draw was young Dan Emslie. For his heat we thought we’d grab a seat away from the crowd so that there were no distractions. It just so happened that Dan pulled up next to us to perform his preheat routine. Calmly he sat, breathing slowly and watching the waves. A few moments later his family arrived and sat behind him without interrupting his process. He then did a few stretches, fist pumped his fam and headed for the paddle out. No talking, no hype, just a calm and easy knowing. All these Emslies seem to carry themselves with a quiet confidence. It’s obvious that Daniel has put in the work and is clear about what he’s doing.
Dan was up against Jacko Baker, Deivid Silva and Jackson Bunch. Talk about a stacked heat! Thankfully, much like his preheat routine, Dan seemed unfazed. He picked his waves wisely and made sure to connect the dots. In the end he was able to advance alongside Jackson Baker.
Keeping the Saffa dream alive for another night, with it all to play for in the morning.
This morning we saw the best waves of the waiting period so far. The south swell continued to roll into the bay and was perfectly groomed by a light offshore breeze. The Mens Round of 16 hit the water first, followed by two heats of the Women’s Round of 16 before the wind got up and the event went on hold for the day.
Dan was up against veteran Joan Duru in the 5th Heat of the day. He started with a clean three turn wave and backed it up with an electric close out turn on his second scoring wave. However, the veteran showed his experience and managed to pick the biggest and best waves of the heat and made sure to finish them off. Dan ended up with a 9th plan finish, his best CS result so far.
It feels safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Dan to come. A mean forehand rail game, a calm head and a strong work ethic is a good combo for any surfer trying to make the big leagues…
Current CS leader Jacob Willcox showed us why he’s at the top with a tube to close-out turn combo that earned him 10 points.
Tomorrow looks like another pumping day of waves! Make sure to get down to Willards for all the action and follow Zag socials for everything you need to know…
Written by – David Armstrong
Images by – Luke Patterson / Kody McGregor / Pierre Tostee