The young blood on the World Surf Qualifying Series were on fire on Day 4 of the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, ousting the more established stars as they chased the massive 10,000 points on offer in the first QS10,000 rated event of the year.
The day’s action kicked off early in funky one meter low tide waves and light crosswinds, but conditions improved all morning with a bump in the swell and windless, glassy conditions before the customary sea-breeze made it choppy and prompted WSL Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie to put a halt to proceedings soon after lunch.
The committed approach by the hungry youngsters was evident from the in the get-go with Keanu Asing and Griffin Colapinto eliminating current Championship Tour surfers Joan Duru and Ezekiel Lau in the first heat of the day.
The same pair won their respective Round of 24 heats later to move into the last 16 . Colapinto, 18, finished ahead of current QS No. 1 Jesse Mendes as they ousted 2015 Ballito champion Alejo Muniz, while Asing, 23, and South Africa’s Michael February put paid to Krystian Kymerson’s chances.
“I just wanted to pick the right waves and go for big turns, especially against those guys who are both probably going to be on the CT next year,” said Colapinto. “There are only five 10 000’s, so you have to capitalise when you’re in one and I’m stoked to be getting something to go on here.”
Despite being bumped off the CT at the end of last year, Asing has a more relaxed approach and after winning a QS3,000 in Barbados earlier this year is looking forward to making more heats in Ballito.
“Just coming through that heat was the game plan and I’m trying to work on wave selection and heat management. Once I get on the waves I know it’s going to be a good score,” Asing commented. “It’s an important event, but I don’t know about getting back on the CT. If it happens this year, it happens, but you know I’m not really dwelling on if I do or if I don’t, that’s just wasted energy.
“I’m here in Ballito and just carrying on making more heats and just focussing on that. I’m really enjoying where I am right now, just focussing on one day at a time, one wave at a time and one turn at a time.”
February was elated to record his best result in a QS10,000 event after making the final of four QS1,000 events earlier this year, winning three of them.
“I’ve won smaller events and finished third in QS6,000’s, but this is definitely the best result I’ve had in an event like this,” February explained. “All the events we’ve surfed since the beginning of the year had 20 minute heats and it’s such a pleasure to have half-hour heats with only two or three other guys.”
After building a solid 13.66 heat total with eight minutes remaining, February gained priority and then shadowed third placed Kymerson, who needed an excellent 8.33 to grab second place, for the rest of the heat.
“I knew I just needed two waves although you’re nervous because you constantly want to back it up. But Krystian can go to the air and make anything happen and I’d rather just sit on him because he can just get a corner and get a nine, like he did in my previous heat!”
February is one of three South Africans still in the event, and will take on Colapinto for a place in the quarterfinals when the event resumes.
Joshua Moniz and Miguel Pupo eliminated Ryan Callinan in the only other Round of 24 heat completed before the event was called off for the day.
Pupo and Jordy Smith, who managed to secure second place in his Round of 48 encounter despite having been up all night with and upset stomach, are the only current CT surfers still left in the event.
“I’ll just keep fighting with whatever it is to see what happens,” said Smith. “It’s awesome that there are still three South Africans in the event, it’s about time! Really stoked for everyone and I hope they can go all the way. All the contests here have given the guys some warm ups and it put them in that position on a consistent basis, so they get a lot of reps, and with getting a lot of reps you get really comfortable, you iron out your kinks.”
Organisers will meet at first light again on Friday to make a call at 06.45 am on when to get the remaining Round 4 heats underway. When competition resumes Ramzi Boukhiam who posted a heat total of 15.50 out of 20, the highest of the day, will be up against South Africans David van Zyl and Jordy Smith in Heat 4 of the Round of 24.
Photos by WSL/ Kelly Cestari.