1 July, 2024 1 July, 2024

Ballito Pro | Behind The Scenes: The Overview Up To Now

O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers

(SAST U12, U14, U16 & U18 Boys & Girls)

Setting

The waves in Ballito are called Sunrise, Surfers, Bathers and Bog. It is not the most original of names, but it is descriptive enough when you look into it a little. The sun rises there, you surf there, you can swim there, and you can go to the toilet around the corner over there.

TLDR

O’Neill SMTH Shapes Rookie Rippers comprised many heats squeezed into two days, with little room to wait for the best conditions as the event was popular: four age groups, two divisions, and 32 winners. The conditions were good, considering the small waves and tides moving back towards the springs. There was not too much in the way of banks, but there were some highly contestable sections and some inspired surfing.

Highlights

Rory Dace (CSF) scored 12.50 points in the Boys’ U16 Quarterfinals, and Louise Lepront (Scottburgh) scored 12 points in her U18 Girls’ Semifinal, then won the U16 Girls and U18 Girls. Levi Epenetos won the U18s. Further strong performances came from the likes of Sarah Scott (CPT), Matt Canning (DBN), and Kai Stubbs (CPT).

Lowlights

The finals day was a mixed bag. Some heats got plenty of waves, allowing for scintillating surfing and big moves. Other heats saw the ocean go tepid, with very few waves coming through and low scores predominating. These variable conditions kept the audience on the edge of their beach chairs.

Two more names to watch

U12 Girls -Adriana Canning
U14 Boys – William Neill

Closing arguments

The South African contingent’s surfing was great throughout, but many surfers need more practice in these weird, funky types of waves that break hard, reverberate on the sand bank, and then disappear.
Also, very very few airs during the contest. See here for air advice from the Ballito: Go For Airs

O’Neill SMTH Shapes Ballito Pro Junior

(JQS1000 Men & Women)

Setting

Waves wonky AF.
As per the WSL pressers,
“The women’s Final endured really tricky, onshore conditions with the peaks of the waves shifting all over the lineup, making wave selection critical. The men’s Final got off to a slow start in the tough conditions.”

TLDR

Laura Raupp and Jarvis Earle Win O’Neill SMTH Shapes Ballito Pro Junior. Annette Gonzalez Etxabarri (Basque Country) and Kai Martin Hawaii Finish Runners-Up. They do it by ripping the shit out of the small to average waves; they surf fast, get a bit lucky here and there with calls and wave selection, and also go to the air, more so Jarvis (Australia) than Laura (Brazil.)

The highest-placed South African girl is Lily Heny (Port Alfred), who comes in third. We have a bunch of South African surfers who all placed equal 5th and earned US$54 for their efforts.  

Highlights

When the internationals enter the field, our younger surfers see surfers who are incredibly motivated and desperate to get good results. After some complicated and costly travelling, there is no messing around in these heats against internationals. Miss one good wave in your heat, and you’re toast. (With apologies to event photographer Toast.)

Lowlights

There were so many good waves that went unridden during the day. Some heats were so quiet that surfers decided to sit inside. Then, the sets would pour through from the rocks and catch everyone inside. So the surfers would sit at the back by the rocks, and then a cracking set would move to the middle, and empty right-handers would spin off towards Sunrise with no takers.

Two more names

Shion Crawford is a startling young talent from Hawaii with a bright future ahead of him.
Rory Dace from Cape St Francis. Quarterfinals this year, four more years to go. ‘Nuff said.

Closing arguments

The JQS series of events leads to the WSL Junior Championships, another chance for our surfers to compete internationally. We should have more JQS contests in South Africa. Actually, there are a lot of things we should have more of in South Africa. More surf contests, electricity, money, honesty, durians etc

Ballito Open presented by Flojos

(WSL QS1000 Men & Women)

Setting

We have now drifted into the tranquil embrace of the Horse Latitudes. Calm, listless, where the ocean sighs in gentle cadence, we find a realm where time ebbs softly. Here, the horizon blurs into an endless dance of indigo and amethyst hues as the wind forgets to blow.

Luke Thompson (c)WSL/Tostee

TLDR

Luke Thompson is victorious, and as a Flojos surfer, it’s apt that he wins this event. He beats Jackson Bunch, Ruinta Ooota and Shion Crawford into the minor positions. There are good conditions for the whole day. It is small, highly contestable, and a few controversies to make things more interesting. A four-minute resurf of heat three in the round of 32 shakes things up slightly during the early part of the day.

The women were ripping all day, and Sally Fitzgibbons showed her hard-earned experience throughout the event. Her win would always happen, and she outpointed and outclassed her opponents as relatively small and listless waves chugged through. Sally snagged one good one.
“I found a chunky section off the end in front of the rocks, and that felt really cool,” said Sally.
“To come in and have the next generation cheer you up, I started this game when they were probably still in nappies.”

Highlights

Thompson is winning. He is determined, focused, and likeable, and his chances of a successful surfing career are good.
“At the start of the heat, I was sitting in no man’s land, and a wave just came to me, so it felt like everything was coming to me at the right time,” said a thankful Thompson.
The vibe at the contest was positive; beaches were crowded, and people were smiling and cheering.
Sally Fitzgibbons is another worthy champion; her friendly attitude and approach on the beach are commendable.

Lowlights

How do you find a lowlight when there are none at all to be found, but you need to fill up about 100 words to make the review piece fit nicely on a website page? It’s a frustrating situation.

  • Do you make up some lowlight lies and incur the wrath of everyone who worked so hard to make this an excellent event?
  • Or mention someone you have a personal beef with and bring it into the open, risking ridicule for bringing your silly little problems into the public eye and embarrassment in front of your kids?
  • Consider bringing up something left unsaid last year that still irks you?
  • Or keep writing this stream-of-consciousness stuff until you reach that target?

Done, 116 words…

Two more names

Winter Vincent (Aus)
Rinta Ooota (Japan).

Closing arguments

This whole Ballito Pro and Ballito Festival is cool. The music is blaring right now, Sunday evening, but the tunes are so good, so no complaints there.

Although the waves were small, surfing was of a very high standard. The contests have been run exceptionally throughout, and the big guns have arrived for the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Challenger Series event. The North Coast is alive.

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