The Ballito Pro Trials went down today at Willard Beach in small, difficult surf. It sure was a picture perfect sunny day with many beach goers social media threads looking like it’s play time in the Med -the beach vendors were again smiling big time, ka-ching, ka-ching. While on the other side of the world, our big wave champ Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker slayed some Mexican mountains in giant surf. How ironic…
Gallery photos ©Luke Patterson
Last week Zigzag got given a Wildcard into the Ballito Pro Trials to hand over to any surfer we chose, the choice was obvious when we heard that Casey Grant wasn’t in the event, and he sure came through today in the tiny waves, winning the trials and earning himself a place in the 2016 Ballito Pro WSL QS 10,000.
The field of 32 competitors surfed throughout the morning, until we were left with four finalists.
It was an epic final heat with Casey coming through in the last few minutes, nailing two winning scores and a tidy air reverse on the buzzer. Jordy Maree came in second while Chad du Tiot and Slade Prestwich finish third and forth, and although they came close, did not receive spots in the main event.
Casey, Jordy and Chad secure themselves a spot in the Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag where 10 of our country’s top surfers will go head to head for R30,000 in a best manouver takes all super heat on the final day of the Ballito Pro.
Round one of the Ballito Pro kicks off tomorrow, and we’ll be keeping an eye on our trials winner and our South African QS contingent as they take on some of the world’s best surfers on our Dolphin Coast.
Casey Grant completed this spectacular air reverse to snatch victory in the SSA Ballito Trials and earn a spot in the 2016 Ballito Pro that runs from 27 June to 3 July at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza. © Kelly Cestari
We caught up with Casey shortly after his Ballito Pro trials win:
Zag: When you arrived at the beach and saw the conditions, did you think you could win today?
Casey: Well, I’ve learnt how to deal with those thoughts, it’s not only going to be small for me, it’s small for everyone who has to surf. So i just put any doubt to bed and make do with what I’ve got.
The waves were really small today, it looked hard out there. What did you think of the waves?
The waves were really bad, it’s just two foot wind swell out there and if you lucky, you get a little set wave. There wasn’t much push in the waves, it was difficult out there.
What have you been doing leading up to the trials? Any preparations?
Well, I’ve been prepping my dive gear and my boat for the Sardine Run (Casey skippers a dive boat on the KZN South Coast) and I havn’t surfed in about 10 days because I’ve been a bit sick. I dewaxed my boards yesterday, gave them a fresh coat of wax. This is my first contest of the year and Zag gave me a wildcard into the trials just a few days ago so there’s pretty much been zero preparation.
Captain Casey, preparing for the 2016 Ballito Pro.
The last time you did the event was in 2010 where you placed 2nd to Jordy Smith, how you feeling going into the main event tomorrow?
Ya, I’m super excited to surf the event, I havn’t had any QS blood on my hands for a while so it feels good. It’s a very humbling memory and now managing to surf my way through the trials into the main event six years down the line is very cool.
I’m just going to take it heat by heat and have fun while making some money. Like, I’m not going to go and start puting my body on the line, I’m just gonna go out there and have some fun.
Casey Grant, runner up in 2010, definitely one to watch in 2016. Photo by: Greg Ewing
Lead Image ©Kelly Cestari
Casey Grant Dominates SSA Ballito Trials : Earns Spot in Ballito Pro
Casey Grant (Scottburgh) dominated the SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong at Willard Beach in Ballito on Sunday to earn a the final berth 112 man field for the R4 million WSL QS10,000 rated Ballito Pro presented by Billabong which starts at the same venue on Monday.
Grant, the runner-up to Jordy Smith in the 2010 edition of the Ballito event, posted five of the top 10 scores during the one-day Trials event and came storming back from an uncharacteristically slow start in the final to snatch victory with an excellent ride in the last minute.
“I fell on my first wave so I was a little bit nervous, but I got a good one and was in third place and knew that the judges reward you if you go for broke,” said Grant. “I was lucky enough to get a wave with a lip and I pulled off a little air-reverse and the judges rewarded me for that. It’s an awesome feeling to make it into the main event again as I haven’t been competing for a while now.”
Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay), the runner up the Billabong Junior Series QS1,000 event yesterday, looked like he was on his way to victory when he seamlessly stitched together three vertical backhand manoeuvres that earned him a near-perfect 9.50 with just four minutes remaining.
Needing an excellent 8.44 for to take the lead, Grant earned an 8.67 for his last ride, relegating Maree, the WSL Africa Junior rankings leader, to the runner-up spot for the second time in as many days. Chad du Toit (Durban) and Slade Prestwich finished third and fourth respectively.
Grant will get his Ballito Pro campaign underway in the first heat of the event where he faces Victor Bernardo (BRA), Derek Peters (USA) and Andy Criere (FRA). The top two in each heat advance to the next round while the surfers finishing third and fourth are eliminated with earnings of US $500 (about R7 500).
The two heats in the first round of the QS 1,000 Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong were run between the semi-finals and the final of the Trials event. Zoe McDougall, the 16 year-old Hawaiian who won the U18 Girl’s Junior final yesterday, was again the standout performer.
McDougall and Tarryn Chudleigh (Kommetjie) advanced from the first heat with Ballito local Tammy-Lee Smith and Faye Zoetmulder (Port Elizabeth) progressing to the Round of 24 from Heat 2.
The Ballito Pro and the Ballito Women’s Pro run from Monday 27 June to Sunday 3 July.
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).