Following an epic final day of action, Alejo Muniz (BRA) has been crowned Ballito Pro presented by Billabong champion. Alejo, who is originally from Argentina but representing Brazil on the World Tour, beat Australian Davey Cathels in breathless conditions at Willards Beach.
It was a typical winter day on the KZN north coast; chilly in the morning with light offshore winds, before the sun came out and the wind died down and the layers were peeled off by the crowd watching the action. The swell had also bumped up overnight and the only thing missing from the recipe for an incredible day was a bit of sand in the bay. The waves were still rippable, however, and the eight remaining surfers left in the event on the final day definitely put on a serious display of shredding.
The action started with the quarter finals, where 17 year-old Californian Kainoa Igarashi faced Alejo Muniz in Heat 1. The tide was still a little bit high, which made wave choice a big factor in the match-up. Alejo, who spent four years on the Dream Tour before dropping off this season, showed his experience and picked off the better waves in the heat to seal the win and move on to the semi-finals.
Alejo Muniz was unstoppable on the final day.
Up in the second quarter final were two Brazilians, Caio Ibelli and Italo Ferriera. Italo was the top seed still left in the Ballito Pro and has been flying all over the Willards Beach lineup all week with some sick airs. Many expected him to take the win, but Caio is a former WSL World Junior Champ himself and wasn’t going to go down without a fight. While Italo waited out the back for a bomb, Caio picked off some good runners on the inside and left Italo trailing.
One of the crowd favourites, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) faced eventual winner Alejo Muniz’s brother, Santiago, in quarter final Heat 3. Zag were secretly hoping for a brother vs brother final, but that was not to be as Mitch cooly shredded his way to the semi finals with some good surfing as he mixed up his attack both frontside and backside.
Right or left, Mitch Coleborn was bang on the money in the quarter finals.
Davey Cathels (AUS) got the better of compatriot Soli Bailey in the last quarter final heat, which was contested in far more rippable conditions than the earlier heats as the tide gradually drained. Davey was lying in 39th spot on the QS ratings before the Ballito Pro and he was about to bank a solid result as he moved on through to the semi finals.
Semi final Heat 1 started immediately afterwards and Caio Ibelli stuck to his earlier tactic of hanging around on the inside and picking off the runners, while Alejo Muniz waited out the back. Alejo’s patience paid off as he lucked into some longer rides that were now starting to break out at the usual take-off zone due to the dropping tide, and he kept up the momentum to take a solid win and move through to the final, hanging on to the QS rankings lead he managed to grab by advancing this far in the event.
Davey Cathels (AUS) got the better of compatriot Mitch Coleborn in the semi finals.
Mitch Coleborn’s timing appeared off in semi-final Heat 2, which made things easier than they should have been for compatriot Davey Cathels. By advancing to the final, Davey moved up to a solid sixth in the QS rankings and a result or two more this year will likely see him join the elite Dream Tour in 2016. At least that’s the plan.
Following the semi-finals, the Monster Energy Expression Session hit the water featuring ten Saffas going for broke. With R20 000 up for grabs by the winner nobody was holding back, but it was J-Bay Junior Matt Macgillivray who came flying out the blocks and stuck air after air in the 30-minute showdown. Mikey February, Davey Van Zyl, Dylan Lightfoot and Beyrick De Vries all landed some good airs too, but there was no stopping Matt as he flew to victory.
Three custom Clayton Surfboards were awarded to members of the crowd who correctly predicted that Matt McGillivray would win the Expression Session. Matt scored himself R20 000.
The final seemed a tame affair following that. Perhaps it’s because watching two guys battle it out instead of ten meant there were longer breaks in the action. But from our spot on the beach a bit further away from the crowd and PA system, it appeared to be a one-sided battle with Alejo taking all the initiative. The final scores proved this to be true, with Davey Cathels deep in ‘combo-land’ with no answer by the final horn.
Go to worldsurfleague.com for all the results, or check out the press release below for more details from today’s action.
ALEJO MUNIZ CROWNED 2015 BALLITO PRO CHAMPION
Alejo Muniz Consolidates QS Rankings lead : Runner-up Dave Cathels leaps to No. 6
Alejo Muniz (BRA) throws a sheet of spray on his way to victory in the Ballito Pro held in pristine conditions at Surfer’s Beach in KwaDukuza on Sunday
Alejo Muniz (BRA) won the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong at Surfer’s Beach in KwaDukuza on Sunday to consolidate his lead at the top of the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) rankings.
Muniz, 25, defeated Davey Cathels (AUS) in the 40-minute Final held in pristine 1.0 to 1.5 metre beach break waves, dropping a near-perfect score of 9.33 out of 10 and adding a 7.83 to leave the 24 year-old Australian in a combination situation where he needed to replace both his counting rides.
The Brazilian had his name etched on the brand new trophy for the Ballito Pro and was elated to hear that his points tally now exceeded the projected cutoff for qualification Top 34 ranked surfers who will contest the elite Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) in 2016.
“It’s been amazing and I would like to thank everyone that came down to the beach,” Muniz said. “I want to dedicate this trophy to my brother because he’s the one that is pushing me and he’s an amazing person, so I just try to be like him, a good person and really focus on surfing. Thanks all the Brazilians that came down to support me too, and I love Ballito.”
“That’s amazing news,” he added on hearing of the qualification scenario. “I’ve been there (on the CT) for 4 years and it’s a dream come true for us from Brazil to be able to surf against the best, against our idols. There is a lot work to do still but if you’re saying I’m in I believe you and thanks.”
Muniz dominated his Quarterfinal match-up against 17-year-old Kanoa Igarashi (USA), posting a pair of eight point rides, before easing past fellow Brazilian Caio Ibelli in their Semifinal clash with a pair of sevens to reach the Final in Ballito.
Cathels, who rocketed from No. 39 to sixth on the QS rankings after picking up 8 000 points for his runner-up finish in Ballito, was thankful for the time he spent in Ballito.
“It’s been great, I always love it here in Ballito. Everyone’s so nice and the waves were so good and I had a great time with my girlfriend, Mattie,” Cathels said. “I’d like to say great thanks to team Fletcher and his family, they always look after me every time I come here, and Julie and Beyrick de Vries and their family too. South Africans, you guys are always such welcoming people and thanks for having us in your home country.”
His route to the Final saw Cathels secure narrow victories in duels with compatriots Soli Bailey in the quarters and the Mitch Coleborn in the semis.
Caio Ibelli (BRA) moved up eight places to No. 3 on the QS rankings following his third place finish today and is determined to maintain his challenge for a place on the CT for 2016.
“The waves were really fun and I think I fell on my first wave that could have been the wave that would count at the end,” Ibelli said. “I couldn’t find the best wave to get the better score I needed but I’m happy with third, it’s a really good result. The third spot on the QS’s are huge for me and I’m going to keep training and surfing so I can hold that spot until the end of the year.”
Mitch Coleborn (AUS) felt like he missed out in his Semifinal loss to Cathels, but was happy to move into the top 10 in the rankings after finishing third overall in Ballito.
“It was really a shaky start and then I couldn’t come back in the end,” Coleborn said. “I’m still stoked to make it to the semifinal, but I feel like I missed a couple opportunities there so I’m a little bit rattled but it’s all good. I’ve got to stay in the top 10 now and just keep chipping away for the rest of the year.”
The Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag, run between the Semifinals and Final, saw 10 of South Africa’s most progressive surfers cut loose in the epic conditions with 17-year-old Matt McGillivray from Jeffreys Bay taking home the R20 000 winners paycheque for the most impressive performance during the 30 minute session.
The R25 000 for the Monster Energy Wave of the Week presented by Zigzag was awarded to Michael Rodrigues (BRA) who recorded the only perfect 10 point ride during Round 2 of the Ballito Pro.
The Ballito Pro Festival, the continent’s biggest beach festival, saw tens of thousands of locals and holiday-makers enjoy a week of beach, music and extreme sports entertainment, including some of the country’s best live acts at the Tropika Ballito Pro Music Concert Powered by 5FM at Salt Rock and a unique beachside retail precinct.
The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong was proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).
Ballito Men’s Pro Finals
1. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 17.16
2. Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.03
Ballito Men’s Pro Semi Finals
S1: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.37 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.63
S2: Davey Cathels (AUS) 13.33 def. Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 10.60
Ballito Men’s Pro Quarter Finals
Q1: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 16.50 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.33
Q2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.17 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.57
Q3: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 16.33 def. Santiago Muniz (ARG) 15.67
Q4: Davey Cathels (AUS) 14.27 def. Soli Bailey (AUS) 14.16