South Africans Bounce Back at Mr Price Pro Ballito
BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal - South African hopefuls in this year’s ASP WQS 6-Star Mr Price Pro Ballito put Wednesday’s devastating 12-man loss behind them with six surfers advancing on day four of the R1.4 Million ASP World Qualifying Series event.
A substantial in swell and slightly bumpy North Easterly one-meter conditions, offered a vastly ed playing field from the two meter (6- 8ft) barrels witnessed earlier this week.
Capetonians Dave Richards and Royden Bryson set a precedent for their fellow compatriots, the pair advancing into the Round of 48 in first and second positions during the first heat of the day.
Richards took a commanding victory with his powerful off the top and clean barrel ride combination, while former ASP world tour campaigner Royden Bryson held onto second position ahead of Dion Atkinson (Aus) and Alex Gray (USA).
“I thought it would be a bit cleaner this morning, there’s so many little peaks all over the place so I was really just on the hunt and managed to get two that were enough to get me through,” said Richards. “The setup here is amazing and the waves have been really good, you can only smile because it’s been a great event so far.”
Bryson used all his competitive experience to stamp-out a dedicated charge from Australian aerialist Deon Atkinson, the pair sitting neck and neck into the last six minutes, with Atkinson needing only a 3.93 to surpass Bryson.
“It’s sort of gentleman’s rules that in the last five minutes you can sit on a guy and make sure he doesn’t get the wave he needs, so that’s pretty much what I had to do,” said Bryson. “That’s competitive surfing for you, and it’s part of the game.”
Young up-and-comer Casey Grant (Scottburgh) joined the growing list of KZN South Coast surfers to make their mark at this event securing his spot in the Round of 46 when he advanced in second place, behind heat winner WQS No. 4 Jadson Andre (BRA).
Grant used his innate barrel riding sense to sniff out one of the rare tube rides of the morning, taking the lead for most of the heat until Andre came back with a solid scoring ride in the dying minutes, forcing Grant to settle for second place.
“It always makes you nervous going up against those top guys,” admitted Grant. The waves were really tricky and whoever gets the best waves is going to make it through. I was lucky to get that tube because I had no other backup wave, so it was definitely luck of the draw that got me through.”
South African Open Men’s Champion Gavin Roberts (Scottburgh) continued to prove flawless in everything from yesterday’s two meter (8ft) barrels, to today’s one meter (3ft) shifting peaks, advancing through his third round of this year’s Mr Price Pro Ballito with one of the day’s highest wave scores an 8.17 (out of 10.00).
Seeking out the waves that would allow him two powerful turns, Roberts secured a close second place finish behind heat winner James Wood (AUS), the pair advancing with 14.33 and 14.00 heat scores (both out of 20.00) respectively.
“On my best wave, those two turns felt pretty solid but I didn’t know that I was going to get an 8,” said Roberts. “It was a big score for just two turns, but I suppose that’s all they’re looking for today.’
“It definitely means a lot to see the South Africans go through. We’re at home so we should be able to beat these good guys just to show that we are some of the best surfers in the world,” Roberts continued. “The guys had it tough yesterday but most of them made it through this morning, so let’s just hope we can all keep on doing it.”
Rudy Palmboom (Bluff) was another surfer to slip through in second place, the young WQS campaigner snatching his spot into the Round of 24 from under ASP World Tour campaigners Yuri Sodre (BRA) and Luke Munro’s (AUS) feet.
The final heat of the morning was met with some especially tricky conditions as the fore easterly wind picked up pace, wrecking havoc with the conditions and making wave ion extremely difficult for competitors.
Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit) had a great start to his heat, holding down the lead until Brazilian Rodrigo Dornelles found a great wall which he surfed brilliantly for an excellent 8.67 (out of 10.00), backing this up with a 5.17 which pushed the powerful surfer from Winkelspruit into second place.
“Thankfully I’m pretty used to onshore conditions because I grew up surfing Muizenberg, so I wasn’t too bothered and just knew I had to get the wave count up and get as many waves as I could,” said Strachan who earn his spot into the main event thanks to Hawaiian surfer Michael Ho. “I also managed to see Michael Ho after my heat and thank him for my spot, he was also pretty stoked that I made it through my heat so thanks again to Michael for what he did.”
Bowing out of this year’s Mr Price Pro Ballito today were Warwick Wright (Durban), 2006 Mr Price Pro Champion Ricky Basnett (Bluff), Damien Fahrenfort (Durban), Gary Van Weiringen (Scottburgh) and Chris Leppan (Dbn).
Brasil’s William Cardosa blasted onto the scoreboards with some excellent scoring rides, his 6.67 and 8.40 proving today’s conditions were as contestable as any, capturing the heat win over early event standout Dylan Graves (PRI), Glen Hall (AUS) and Torrey Meister (HAW).
The Australian and the Brazilian surfers lead the morning’s charge with Jean da Silva (BRA) Alejo Muniz (BRA) James Taipan Wood (AUS) Matt Wilkinson (AUS) Paulo Mauro (BRA) and Leigh Sedley (AUS) all advancing in first position.