What a start to The Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill. The Rookie Rippers kicked the show off with a bang. Conditions at first required the young rippers to dig deep as they came face to face with 6ft sets tucked in between a stiff onshore. The groms charged non the less, the weather only seeming to have an effect on the crowd.
The last two days of competition saw the ocean get out on the right side of the bed, easing up affording the lighties a chance to showcase their talent. All in all, a solid start to the proceedings down here in KwaDukuza.
Edit – Calvin Paul Thompson
Luke Thompson and Piper Harrison were crowned the inaugural Ballito O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior Men’s and Women’s World Surf League (WSL) Africa Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 Champions on a beautiful day in Ballito. It looked like a completely different ocean at Willard Beach with fun 3-4ft waves, compared to the wild and wooly conditions yesterday.
It was a red-hot final, with Thompson and Beukes showing their intent right from the start. Thompson found an absolute gem of a wave that allowed him to fit in three critical turns before finishing right in front of the rocks. His commitment was awarded by the judges for a 7.25 and with a 5.00 already in the bag, he won with a total of 12.25. Beukes tried to improve his scores right up until the last second, but it wasn’t enough. Slijpen and Azuchi ended third and fourth.
“I’m so happy. I’ve made almost every final this year and I just wanted to win one so badly. I felt really good before this contest started. The waves are super fun and I waited on the wider peak, where I got one under priority and that was my best score,” said Thompson.
Australia’s Piper Harrison is on a roll in South Africa, winning her third consecutive JQS 1,000 after being in control for most of the Women’s Junior Final.
“The conditions were really tough, the toughest that I’ve surfed in South Africa. The girls were ripping, so it was awesome. I think I put myself in the right place at the right time and I got lucky with a few, so I’m super stoked,” said Harrison, who will also compete in the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Women’s QS 1,000.
Defending event winner, Zoë Steyn, had to work hard to catch up to the heat leaders. With a few seconds to go, Steyn squeezed in two quick manoeuvres for a 4.90, but it wasn’t enough and she had to settle for second place. Rachel Presti was third and Pacha Luque-Light in fourth.
“The waves were good, I got quite a nice first wave, but I just didn’t manage to back it up. Hopefully I can win the next few JQS events so I can defend the WSL Africa title,” said Steyn.