Top seeds dominated on day four of the R2.5 Million Mr Price Pro Ballito, that saw the non- elimination round of 24 completed, followed by two heats of the elimination round of 24.
Clean, one-meter barrelling waves saw both tube-riding and power-surfing rewarded, as spectators flocked to the beach, despite the overcast weather.
World No. 4 and local favourite Jordy Smith (CT), looked unstoppable in his non- elimination round of 24 clash against fellow Durbanite Beyrick De \Vries and Basque surfer Aritz Aranburu.
Smith’s huge, sweeping turns and critical wave finishes, earned near perfect scores, including a 9.50 and 9.07 (both out of ten) for the highest combined heat total of this year’s competition so far, an 18.57 (out of 20.00).
“I didn’t start off with the best waves and while Beyrick (De Vries) was getting barrelled, I was still trying to up my work rate,” Smith explained. “My physique doesn’t fit into the small barrels so I was looking for turns and I got the scores. I’m stoked.”
Eager to take down his hero, De Vries netted an impressive 8.17-barrel ride but it was not enough to beat Smith’s near perfect performance. The Durbanite forced to settle for second place.
Event Top Seed ASP World No. 11, Australian Julian Wilson, continued his superb form with a seemingly effortless performance in the groomed Willard’s Beach waves.
Building momentum with full rail turns, Wilson netted an excellent 9.07 score, advancing in first place ahead of Brazilians Jadson Andre and David Do Carmo.
“It was fun, it’s dropped and doesn’t have as much power as it did yesterday but it’s more groomed and easier to pick the good waves,” Wilson said. “I’m happy to get through and get a few good waves.”
Young Brazilian talent Jesse Mendes found himself in the perfect position for one of the best-looking barrels of the morning. Exiting cleanly, Mendes completed the wave with two impressive turns for a near perfect 9.23 score.
Mednes held off a sharp looking Stu Kennedy (AUS) to advance into the Round of 16 in first place.
“I had so much fun, the waves were amazing,” Mendes said. “I took off on that wave and didn’t know if it was going to be a good one but it held up and I got a great little barrel. This is a no loser round but there’s one that wins, so you always want to be that winner.”
ASP World No. 21 Kolohe Andino (USA) was forced to make some adjustments according to the changing conditions. Showing versatility in his surfing, Andino produced a variety of manoeuvres to earn snatch the win over Dion Atkinson (AUS) and Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF).
Reunion’s Maxime Huscenot kept busy in his 30-minute heat, drawing speed and power through his turns to take a narrow victory over Thomas Woods (AUS) and Marlon Lipke (PRT).
“It looks like a little Snapper Rocks (Australia) out there,” Huscenot said. “It’s really rippable and everyone was catching heaps of waves so my aim was just to try and catch a bigger set wave, to improve my scores.”
Brazil’s Filipe Toledo and Krystian Kymerson kept the pressure on, in their respective Round of 24 heats. Both surfers earned victories off the final wave of their respective heats, to advance directly in to the Round of 16.
Fellow countryman Caio Ibelli lead from start to finish, enjoying the best of the morning’s barrels in his Round of 24 heat.
“I’ve been looking for barrels since I got here because I know the potential this wave has,” Ibelli said. “I love those conditions, everyone who knows me knows how much I love barrels and that’s what I was looking for.”
High tide and deteriorating conditions forced organisers to place the event ON HOLD before the start of heat three, eventually calling it off at 14:30 when conditions failed to improve.
The next call will be at 07:00am (CAT) tomorrow for a possible 07:15am start.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito is Stop No. 3 of 8 on the ASP International Prime Tour featuring 96 surfers from 16 countries including 13 of the top 34 elite World Championship Tour campaigners.
The event also features a dynamic Beach Festival, three nights of Free Music Concerts on the Beach as well as an exciting new Food and Wine exhibition.
For more information log on to www.mrpricepro.com.
Round of 24 Results:
Heat 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.40; Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 13.27; Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 2: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 15.46; Stu Kennedy (AUS) 14.17; Granger Larsen (HAW) 7.43
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.57; Beyrick De Vries (ZAF)14.94; Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.24
Heat 4: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 14.33; Thomas Woods (AUS) 13.33; Marlon Lipke (PRT) 12.03
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.07; Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.40; David do Carmo (BRA) 6.70
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (ZAF) 13.26; Dion Atkinson (AUS) 9.27; Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) 6.77
Heat 7: Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 14.80; Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.67; Billy Stairmand (NZL) 13.24
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.63; Mason Ho (HAW) 10.50; Jean Da Silva (BRA) 1.38
No Loser Round of 24 Results:
Heat 1: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 13.50 def Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.27
Heat 2: Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12.93 def Jay Thompson (AUS)