We arrived on the beach to howling onshore, low tide, moody overcast Pipeline. A competitor’s nightmare. A contest director’s headache. To add insult to injury, and to make the judges job that much harder, the glare was also atrocious. Brutal! I glare from the depths of hell. The onshore howled. The sun came out from the clouds, we took off our jackets. It hid behind the clouds once again, we put our jackets back on. It rained. Then it poured. Lightning and thunder struck. Until eventually, the sun emerged for good, the wind swung offshore, and we crowned our victors on what seemed like a day without fault. Here’s what went down.
Pro Junior Men’s – The Goliath Slayer – Dillon Hendricks
In 2017 the Billabong team crammed themselves into a rickety old house on the shores of Ballito, for the Ballito Pro. The marketing department taught the groms a card game entitled, ‘Warlords and Scumbags’. You know, just something to keep them busy between their multiple daily surf sessions, eating, and sneaking off to get their grind on at a club named ‘CRUSH’. Dillon caught on to the card game expeditiously. Quickly taking up the role of Warlord and shifting his teammates and the marketing department to their newly acquired lower levels of ‘scumbag’. Even the marketing manager was shifted off his high horse and cast to the pleb-like positions held by his Billabong teammates. A sight to see indeed! You see, Dillon had a plan. He had figured out this game. And his instincts, whether he knew it or not, allowed him to make great decisions in clutch moments with a cursory assessment of what each player was more likely to do according to his or her personality. It’s this type of mindset which saw him to a win at the Pro Juniors today. When everybody else hustled each other up and down the beach. Dillon stood his ground, trusted his instincts, and came away with the win.
Kai Woolf is Still Queen
For those of you who thought the queen had been dethroned, think again. The queen still lives and reigns supreme. Not only did she surf her way to a victory in the Pro Junior Women’s, she also won the Open Women’s QS 1000. Growing up in J-bay she’s always had a strong backhand. Actually strong is the wrong word. She’s got herself a world-class backhand. But today, today she showed she doesn’t need running rights to get scores. She can get scores on virtual closeouts. In tiny onshore slop. And she can even get great scores going left. Somebody PLEASE! Get this girl a sponsor! Get her on an international team. Cause lord knows she’s got the talent and mental fortitude to go far. Long live the Queen.
Hill Billy Emerged the Victor But Ludi Stole the Show
Pipeline was wild. It was onshore. It was far out at sea. And there was a mean, mean glare. But the two winningest surfers, Ludi du Toit who placed second, and Michael Hill who won, paddled out without leashes. An ode to a bygone period. A period currently being resurrected.
Ludi showed up to a hang and bang longboarding event with a baby blue log, with the words ‘Dora Lives’ spray painted on the bottom deck. You don’t know who Dora is grom? Best you do some Googling. The heat was dominated by Michael and Ludi. Michael sitting far out the back and linking waves all the way to the inside while Ludi sat on the inside and rode waves to the shore break. The two put on a glorious display of cross-stepping, soul arching, switchfoot cutbacks, drop knee cutbacks, handstands and together spent more time on the nose than most post-millennials spend on their cellphones. It was a brilliant heat. And a much-needed break from the top to bottom antics we’d been witnessing all day.
Long Live Dora
The Smiling Assassin
Isn’t it great to see a man who spreads such good vibes win an event? It’s kinda redeeming. DVZ’s one of those humans who spreads happiness and positivity wherever he goes. His smile envelopes you and forces you to smile along for the ride. DVZ has a fantastic rail game. Certainly one of the best in the country, and arguably second only to Jordy. When he puts his boards on the rail he looks manly. Like he just ate a man-sized Lunchbar. Like he was born for it. When Davey goes on the rail it’s like everything inside of him, is completely in the moment. And it shows in his scores. Hopefully, he can do the same as Mikey and get on a roll through the City Surf Series and maybe even, perhaps qualify by the end of the year.
Have a gander at our gallery of the day’s action, video from the final day, and exactly why VW chooses to get behind South African surfing.
All images Ian Thurtell