8 July, 2023 8 July, 2023

Finals Day at The Ballito Pro 2023!

We simply go again! Finals day here at The Ballito Pro was no different to what we’ve experienced pretty much all week. Not a breath of wind, glassy crystal clear water and rippable waves. The crowd gathered for a sunny 27 degree winters day in Ballito, tough living here on the North Coast… The weather was prime, the waves were dreamy and the beach was packed! The stage was set for a big day of surfing. 

Isabella Nichols of Australia surfs in Heat 2 of the Semifinals.
Kade Matson of the United States surfs in Heat 1 of the Semifinals.

Women’s Semifinals:

First up was the women’s semifinal, Vahina Fierro went head-to-head with Zahli Kelly in what was a solid back and forth exchange and a nice way to kick off finals day. Fierro, known for her powerful backside rail game, unleashed some impressive carves and snaps. However, Kelly proved to be a formidable opponent, executing stylish turns and critical manoeuvres with finesse. Ultimately, it was Fierro who triumphed, securing her spot in the finals.

The second women’s semifinal featured Bronte Macaulay and Isabella Nichols, two top class Aussie surfers with contrasting styles. Macaulay’s powerful backhand and calculated approach contrasted with Nichols’ flawless forehand rail game. On paper it was a very close match up, but on the day Bronte was untouchable and dominated the heat, propelling her to the finals.

Mens Semifinals:

The men’s semifinals were equally thrilling, showcasing just how high the level of competitive surfing is at the moment. Kade Matson faced off against Frederico Morais in a highly anticipated match-up of the new gen vs the veteran. Matson, known for his consistency and power, threw himself at a few heavy sections and started the heat looking like he’d take it. Morais, a seasoned competitor, showcased powerful and precise surfing and managed to chip away at the requirement and use his experience to his favour. In a closely contested heat, Morais managed to seal the deal over Matson, securing his spot in the finals.

In the second men’s semifinal, Cole Houshmand took on Joan Duru in a battle of the backhand attacks. Duru’s seamless approach was met with Houshmand’s power and precision. The heat witnessed an intense exchange of manoeuvres as both surfers fought for a place in the finals. Ultimately, Houshmand’s lip gouging whips and wave selection proved crucial, advancing him to the highly anticipated showdown.

Frederico Morais of Portugal surfs in Heat 1 of the Semifinals.


The women’s final showcased Vahina Fierro’s and Bronte Macaulay. Bronte got started right away and looked to be full of confidence. Vahina sat and waited for a set wave and when it came made sure to capitalise on it. However, Bronte kept on chipping away and putting in major backside slaps which proved too much for Vahina to handle. The crowd erupted in cheers as Macaulay banged one last close out turn and claimed victory and was crowned the Ballito Pro Champion 2023!

In the men’s final, Frederico Morais faced off against Cole Houshmand in a showdown that kept us all on the edge of our seats. For 80% of the heat the ocean went flat. With 2 minutes to go it looked as through Frederico, who was sitting in the lead, was going to take the title. There was barely a ripple at see but Cole stayed composed as he looked to the horizon for one last opportunity. With 10 seconds on the clock a bump rolled in. Cole scratched towards the peak and got to his feet just before the buzzer. Needing a mid he’d have to give it horns if he wanted to get the score on such such a small wave and that’s exactly what he did. Cole, with all his power, tagged the wave all the way to the beach and to the top of the podium. The last-second heroics propelled Houshmand to victory, which left both the crowd and Frederick stunned. His triumph was a testament to the unpredictable nature of competitive surfing and a reminder to why we love competitive surfing.

Cole Houshmand of the United States surfs in Heat 2 of the Semifinals.
Bronte Macaulay of Australia surfs in Heat 2 of the Semifinals.

The Ballito Pro 2023 was an incredible success, leaving surf fans buzzing with excitement. The event delivered on all fronts, showcasing the world’s top surfers in their prime. The world class waves at Willards provided the ideal canvas for surfers to unleash their power and skill. With intense battles in the semifinals and breathtaking finals, the competition kept everyone on the edge of their seats. From the packed beach to the endless days of perfect weather, and Cole Houshmand’s last-second heroics, the event showcased the beauty of KZN and high-performance surfing at its finest. Until next year…

Bronte Macaulay of Australia wins the Ballito Pro.
Cole Houshmand of the United States wins the Ballito Pro.

Written by – David Armstrong

Images by – WSL / Kody McGregor / Pierre Tostee

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