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Ballito Pro

CONTEST NEWS: Bella Kenworthy and Ian Gouveia won the Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill

An epic 14-day Ballito contest season drew to a close in small surf on Monday 8 July, with Bella Kenworthy (USA) and Ian Gouveia (BRA) winning the Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill, Stop No. 3 of the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series.

Two to three-foot shifting peaks, a dropping tide and a west gust or two were the order of the day, and although there were no South African surfers in the mix, there was a good crowd on the beach to cheer on the final surfers.

Sophia Medina was looking good throughout the morning, but a last-second wave by Tahitian Vahine Fierro saw the lead change hands in the last few seconds and Medina was out.

Bella Kenworthy (USA) came up against Vahine Fierro in the final and he Californian reigned supreme, winning with a good looking wedge on her backhand which saw her fit in three turns and score enough points for the win.

In the men’s event Winter Vincent from Queenscliff Beach in Australia came up against Nolan Rapoza in the semis and was outpointed by the American, while in the other semi, Ian Gouveia from Brazil defeated Edgard Groggia (Brazil) in a fiercely contested heat

According to an elated Gouveia, this was the biggest win of his career to date. “I’m so glad it happened right now. It’s been a wild ride. It’s more for my family, for my team than it is for me. For everyone that helps me to feel good, and all the support I have so I’m glad I could do this for them. I just want to be at the top at the end of the year and qualify.”


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Finalists L to R Vahine Fierro (runner up), Ian Gouveia (winner), Bella Kenworthy (winner) and Nolan Rapoza (runner up) (c) WSL / Tostee

Kenworthy Goes All The Way, First-Ever Challenger Series Win

Bella Kenworthy (USA), the up-and-coming youngster from Southern California, claimed her first-ever Challenger Series win in Ballito, overcoming an in-form Vahine Fierro (FRA). Kenworthy saved her best performance for when it really mattered, and was in sync with the ocean to find the best waves in the Final. 

“It feels so good, I did not come into this event expecting this,” Kenworthy said. “I’m so excited going into the US Open now, it’s so close to home, so hopefully I can carry the momentum.”

The 17-year-old kept her cool and calm demeanor throughout the event with her dad Jason, by her side and looked in control during one of the biggest heats of her career. Kenworthy’s smooth and powerful forehand turns, combined with her commitment to the end section, earned her a total of 12.50 (out of a possible 20) to best Fierro who finishes runner-up in Ballito once again. Kenworthy moved up to No. 4 on the Challenger Series rankings going into the next event at home.

“Thanks to everyone for tuning in and watching my heats, everyone back home, but especially my mom,” Kenworthy said. 

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Bella Kenworthy. (c) WSL / Tostee

Gouveia Surges To Top of the Rankings, Keep CT Dreams Alive

The wind turned on for the men’s Final and it was inevitably going to be an airshow between Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Nolan Rapoza (USA), two of the standout surfers from this week in Ballito. The former Championship Tour surfer started strong with a big frontside air rotation into the wind to get a 7.17 (out of a possible 10), but Rapoza got two quick mid-range scores to take the lead.

Halfway into the heat, Gouveia was trailing Rapoza when he raced down the line to boost a perfectly clean straight air, earning a 5.60 to move into the lead. Rapoza started to get desperate but wasn’t landing his massive air attempts and Gouveia secured the win.

After consecutive Quarterfinal appearances in the first two events in Australia, this win catapults Gouveia to the top of the rankings, keeping his Championship Tour (CT) qualification dreams alive.

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Ian Gouveia. (c) WSL / Tostee

Vahine Fierro and Nolan Rapoza Finish Runners-Up

Vahine Fierro (FRA) looked like the one to beat during this event, scoring the highest heat total in the women’s draw against Isabella Nichols (AUS) on her way to the Final. Fierro moves into the top 5 on the Challenger Series rankings as she prepares to represent France in Paris 2024.

“I always feel so good here in Ballito,” Fierro said. “It was a super fun week. After winning in Tahiti, I really wanted to put my head down and go back to work in different conditions and I’m really proud of that. A big congrats to Bella for winning her first Challenger Series, it’s so cool. I’m super stoked on getting a trophy, it’s 58 hours to go back home so it was worth coming all this way!”

Nolan Rapoza (USA) improved on his equal 5th in Ballito last year and moved up 56 places on the rankings to enter the Top 10 before going to the US Open, an event where he’s previously secured two Semifinal appearances.

The next stop on the Challenger Series calendar is the Lexus US Open of Surfing presented by Pacifico and runs through August 6 to 11, 2024.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

The Ballito Pro is supported by O’Neill, KwaDukuza Municipality, Surfing South Africa, Corona, The North Coast Courier, Monster Energy, SMG and Coca-Cola.

For highlights from the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Challenger Series, visit   WorldSurfLeague.com, the free WSL app, and the WSL’s YouTubechannel. Also, check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners.

Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill Women’s Final Results
1- Bella Kenworthy (USA) 12.50
2- Vahine Fierro (FRA) 9.03Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill Men’s Final Results
1- Ian Gouveia (BRA) 12.77
2- Nolan Rapoza (USA) 11.83Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill Women’s Semifinal Results
HEAT 1: Vahine Fierro (FRA) 13.40 DEF. Sophia Medina (BRA) 11.07
HEAT 2: Bella Kenworthy (USA) 12.16 DEF. Tessa Thyssen (FRA) 11.47Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill Men’s Semifinal Results
HEAT 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.34 DEF. Edgard Groggia (BRA) 10.76
HEAT 2: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 13.23 DEF. Winter Vincent (AUS) 11.60



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