Saturday, the 1st July saw the ladies takeover in KZN for the Women’s Ballito Pro presented by Billabong. The QS 1000 wrapped up a contest rich season in South Africa as a total of seven QS and Pro Junior events were surfed across the country’s wave-rich shores.
“It’s been a great series here in South Africa,” enthused Zoe McDougall from Hawaii. “It’s definitely the country giving the women the most opportunities any where in the world.”
The stacked first heat of Round 1 began at Bather’s, setting the tone for a long day of surfing as it was decided that the entire contest would be run in one day. Five rounds, 32 surfers, 11 internationals, 21 South Africans. From Round 1 you could see the difference in the internationals approach to a heat. They are fierce, fast and hungry for the WQS points that they traveled halfway around the world for. Round 1 went by in a flash of spray in the clean waves at Bather’s.
But by Round 2 that dreaded wind was puffing and the contest relocated to Surfer’s Beach. Just six Zaffa ladies advanced to the next round only to be reduced even further. Young Kayla Nogueira has continued to add to her title of rising star as she surfed her way to the quarterfinals at just 14 years old – a serious achievement considering the level of surfing at the event. Nicole Pallet was the stand alone South African to join Kayla after destroying a chunk of lip, earning herself a 9-point ride and eliminating Japanese surfer, Nagiso Tashiro.
By the time the woman-on-woman quarterfinals kicked off, the onshore wind was gusting, creating a super tricky line up of flat and bowly sections. Waves were selected with calculated decisions and everything was put on the line. The semi-finalists were decided: Japan’s Reiko Nora (52 on the rankings) will take on Hawaii’s Zoe McDougall (14 on the rankings) with heat 2 being an Aussie match up with Sophia Fulton and Pacha Luque-Light.
Coming off a win in the Pro Juniors just two days before, Zoe was just too comfortable in Ballito’s shores and eliminated Reiko. It was a close heat between the Aussie’s but Sophia squeaked through with a 7,33 and a 2,83.
The professional approach from both finalists was noteworthy throughout the event. These ladies mean business, the sweet preheat smiles were replaced with a steely and poised demeanor. McDougall lead the chase with 6,33 but struggled to back it up with anything higher than a mid range score. The back up score was her demise and Fulton swooped in with a 7,5, winning over Zoe by a mere 0,5.
“It was a big day of competition, I surfed so many heats!” said Sophia Fulton after her big win. “It’s a great end to my South African campaign, I won the Vans Classic too and I am going home on Monday.”
Check out the gallery below courtesy of Kelly Cestari..