The final day of the 2016 Ballito Pro was blessed with clean overhead waves groomed by a steady landbreeze. Only seven heats remained for the final day of competition, and we all knew the surfing would be on point. The eight surfers left in the running on finals day have made it through numerous heats, they’re in the money, in with some points and in tune with their surfing.
All images ©Alan van Gysen unless otherwise credited.
After a stellar performance in yesterday’s wild surf, Beyrick de Vries and Joan duru (FRA) took to the water for the second quaterfinal heat of the morning. Beyrick got the first substantial scoring ride, two big turns and a nice tube for a mid seven. The French goofyfoot answered back with multiple backside cracks for an eight.
Beyrick in the tube. ©Alan van Gysen
Joan went on to score a high nine which left Beyrick needing a wave with priority while the clock ticked down. One minute to go and a bomb peaks at the back of Willard beach, Beyrick paddles in, cracks the lip and, racing into a nice tube ride, finishes with a big hook off the closeout.
The beach held thumbs for the local boy but, he wasn’t rewarded with the score and his epic run in The 2016 Ballito Pro comes to a stop in the quaterfinals… So we thought.
Beyrick de Vries throws a fan of spray during his quaterfinal heat. ©Alan van Gysen
After the loss of our last standing South African, the heats continued and Willard Beach delivered a groomed line up throughout the morning. The semifinals were concluded and the Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag took to the water as the north east onshore winds started to puff.
The 30 minute superheat featuring 10 surfers from around South Africa had the crowd cheering from the start as Dylan Lightfoot landed an air reverse on his first wave for an early lead. The waves pulsed throughout the expression session, and the onshore just blowing enough to create a perfect canvas for high performance surfing.
Matt McGillivray boosting. ©Alan van Gysen
Matt McGillivray landed a big air rotation on a set wave and sat on top of the leader board for a few minutes. Then Beyrick de Vries woke up, racing down the line into a massive air reverse, grabbing his rail and riding the air out with style. Boom, Beyrick continues his dream run at The 2016 Ballito Pro and pockets R30,000 for the best manouver of the Monster Energy Expression Session.
Beyrick de Vries spins for R30,000 in the Monster Energy Expression Session. ©Alan van Gysen
The water was cleared and the siren sounded to start the man on man final, Joan Duru (FRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS). Both goofyfooters, both stand outs of the event. The finalists sat patiently between sets and traded backside blows on their selected waves.
The goofyfooters dominated the final day of The 206 Ballito Pro. ©Alan van Gysen
The lead jumped between competitors as the 35 minute final continued to deliver wave after wave, both surfers scoring excellent rides. Connor put the nail in the coffin with a 9.23 in the final minutes leaving Joan needing a big score, but the ocean went flat as time ticked down.
The crowd counts down the seconds and Connor O’Leary wins The 2016 Ballito Pro WSL QS 10,000 taking home US$40,000 in prize money. But, its those valuable QS points these surfers are after and Connor just earned himself 10,000.
Connor O’Leary (AUS) is your 2016 Ballito Pro Champion. ©Alan van Gysen
Beyrick, our last standing South African, finishes in =5th place, earning himself US$7,000 and 5200 points, and jumps up to twelfth spot on the WSL QS ratings.
And it wasn’t over yet, Beyrick’s face lit up as he was called back to the stage, taking out the Monster Energy ‘Wave of the Week’ with his epic 9.7 during the South African superheat against Jordy Smith in the round of 16. He pockets another R20K for the best wave of the the contest and earns more money and more stoke in one event than he has the whole year, so far.
Beyrick de Vries, two waves, four ladies and R50K richer. ©Alan van Gysen
Highlights of The Monster Energy ‘Wave of the Week’.
See More from The 2016 Ballito Pro HERE.
Ballito Pro presented by Billabong Final Results
1. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 17.30
2. Joan Duru (FRA) 15.80
Ballito Pro presented by Billabong Semi-Final Results
Semi1. Joan Duru (FRA) 19.20 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.63
Semi2. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 16.74 def. Ezekiel Lau (AUS) 14.60
Ballito Pro presented by Billabong Quarter-Final Results
Quarter1. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.24 def. Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 13.17
Quarter2. Joan Duru (FRA) 18.67 def. Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 16.34
Quarter3. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.83 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.57
Quarter4. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.50 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.56
WSL Qualifying Series Rankings (After Ballito Pro)
1 Fioravanti,Leonardo ITA 17530
2 O’Leary,Connor AUS 14700
3 Duru,Joan FRA 13040
4 Silva,Deivid BRA 11530
5 Lau,Ezekiel HAW 10120
South Africans (Top 100)
12 De Vries,Beyrick ZAF 7130
48 Smith,Jordy ZAF 3700
53 February,Michael ZAF 3610
57 McGillivray,Matthew ZAF 3395
96 Lightfoot,Dylan ZAF 2345
Australia’s Connor O’Leary wins Ballito Pro :: Moves to No. 2 on QS Rankings
Connor O’Leary (AUS) won the Ballito Pro presented Billabong in epic 1m – 1.5 waves at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza today, defeating Joan Duru (FRA) in the final held in front of a packed beach basking in warm mid-winter sunshine and windless conditions.
In a high scoring final where the lead constantly changed hands, both surfers posted excellent rides on their backhand in the long right-handers before O’Leary etched his name on the winner’s trophy with an explosive ride punctuated by three vertical re-entries for a 9.20 and a 17.30 vs. 15.80 victory.
“It’s surreal. I feel like it hasn’t actually happened and it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m just over the moon,” said O’Leary. “It’s one of my best results so far. To make the final I was beyond stoked and to take the win just tops it off. Joan’s surfing has been amazing recently and he’s one of my favorite surfers on the QS, so to have a final with him was amazing.”
Connor O’Leary (AUS) in winning form during the Ballito Pro where he defeated Joan Duru (FRA) in the final in pristine waves at Willard Beach on Sunday. ©WSL / Cestari
Victory in the first World Surf League (WSL) QS 10,000 rated event of the year earned O’Leary US $40 000 (about R600 000) and his haul of 10 000 points saw the 22 year-old move up 13 places to No. 2 in the rankings.
Duru, ranked No. 8 on the QS coming into the Ballito Pro, franked that form by racking up several of the highest single ride and heat scores during the event.
“That final was close and it was the guy that got the best wavs that was going to win. I got one good one and then I lost priority,’ said Duru. “It’s one of best results in my career so far. Every year I get good results but never as good as this one, so I’m really happy with second place. You surf against some of the best guys in the world, so if you lose one heat it’s okay.”
The Frenchman used his lethal backhand to eliminate local favourite Beyrick de Vries (ZAF) in the quarters and his runner-up finish elevated him to No. 3 on the QS rankings.
Ezekiel Lau (HAW) finished equal third in the Ballito Pro after an outstanding run that saw him oust elite Championship Tour (CT) competitors Stu Kennedy and Jack Freestone, both from Australia, before losing to O’Leary in their semi-final clash.
“For sure it’s my best result on the road and the furthest I’ve been I a QS 10 000, so I’m happy with the result,” said Lau. “I’m disappointed because I wanted to make the final really badly but that’s just how it goes. Connor has been surfing well, with some of the highest scores of the event, and I decided to go for the airs, but I came unstuck.”
Jeremy Flores (FRA), in his tenth year at the highest echelons of competition surfing, narrowly lost out in a see-saw, high scoring semi-final duel with compatriot Duru. Flores delivered two excellent scores of 8.93 and 8.70, but ultimately could not match Duru’s 9.30 and near-perfect 9.90 (the highest single ride score of the event), and had to settle for equal third place.
“Before coming here, if someone had told me that I would be in the semi-finals I would have taken it. It’s definitely a good result and hopefully I keep building from now on,’ said Flores. “I haven’t had any of the results that I wanted in the CT and now I have to back it up with some QS, which is definitely not easy at all because the QS is so hard. This semi-final result is definitely a keeper for me and a good confidence boost.”
The 6 500 points Flores collected for third place in his first QS event of the year resulted in him leapfrogging straight into 14th place on the rankings, underlining the value the Ballito Pro provides on the world stage.
Beyrick de Vries (ZAF) produced the best performance by a South African and his fifth place finish saw his ranking jump from 98th to 12th, moving him into contention to qualify for the 2017 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour. The uMhlanga local also collected an additional R50 000 by winning both the Monster Energy ‘Wave of the Week’ video award and the Zigzag Expression Session to cap one of the best weeks of his career.
“It’s just been an awesome week, one of the best weeks in a long time, maybe in my life,” said de Vries. “It’s just a crazy transition of emotions and the beach support was amazing. I feel like my best work is done when I’m having fun and I wanted to take a break from professional surfing and focusing on being a surfer again. And now this happens.”
Highlights from the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong can be found at www.worldsurfleague.com
While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza by offering the best in beach, music and sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring the ‘Fire up your stoke: Night of food & wine’, an extreme sports programme and an exciting retail area, while the Five Star Ballito Pro Free Music Concerts powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.
See more information at www.theballitopro.co.za
The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).