A former World Championship Tour (WCT) campaigner turned big-wave free-surfer, Reyes opened his account with a 7.17 (out of a possible ten points) for an early lead off his powerful performance on a reeling right-hander. While Wilkinson answered back with an impressive 9.2 score, Reyes maintained his composure and, in accordance with a dream he’d had, sat wide to find a wave under Wilkinson’s priority, scoring an 8.27 to secure his victory over the Australian.
“This is definitely the biggest win I have ever had in my life,“ said an emotional Reyes. “I knew Matt would get a 9 and he did but I had a dream a few days ago that I should just sit wide, be patient, and the wave would come to me. Almost every heat I had, the same thing happened and that’s what happened on my 8.25 in the Final.”
Just two weeks back in the water after a ten-week shoulder injury, Reyes’s razor sharp performance saw him pocket $40 000 and 6500 rankings points. His victory rocketing him from 131 on the Qualification Series (QS) rankings to a remarkable no. 5 in the world, opening the door for a chance to re-qualify for the elite ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) in 2015.
“I’m just going to take it one contest at a time, and one heat at a time and see what happens,” Reyes said. “It’s been a special day for me. Ballito came alive and I’ve had amazing support from the locals and my friend Sid who gave me a home away from home this week.”
Wilkinson, current no. 33 on the WCT, was a standout performer netting some of the highest scoring waves of the competition including, a 9.90 in the Semifinal and a 9.2 in the Final. Failing to find a second high scoring ride in the Final, Wilkinson was forced to settle for a second place finish.
“It’s been an unreal event, I’ve had so much fun here and the waves have been amazing,” Wilkinson said. “I got that 9.2 under Timmy’s priority, and I thought I had it until I let him take a wave under my priority and he got that 8.2 score. I’m really stoked to come second but obviously I’m pretty disappointed at not winning.”
Tiago Pires, 33, (PRT) current no. 25 on the WCT and Adam Melling, 29, (AUS) current no. 21 on the WCT, finished in equal third place respectively.
Pires stuck to his game plan in his Semifinal decider against Reyes but with high tide conditions providing few opportunities, Pires found himself with his back against the wall and was narrowly eliminated with 11.26 to Reyes’s 11.50 (both out of 20.00).
“It was a very weird heat for waves, and I had a strategy that didn’t really pay off,” Pires said. “It’s always good to come here and make a few heats and build up a bit of momentum. I’m not really looking for a qualification on the QS but it’s a pity I didn’t make the final. It’s always big for our careers to win such a prestigious event here in South Africa and one of the longest running ones in the world.”
Melling’s strategy also did not pay off in his Semifinal against Wilkinson. While Wilkinson kept busy, Melling chose to be patient and soon found himself in a combination situation, needing an excellent scoring ride to advance.
“I’m pretty happy with this result and I’m stoked for ‘Wilko’, he’s been surfing amazingly and I’m glad there’s an Aussie in the Final,” Melling said. “Wilko built a lot of momentum in that heat and unfortunately I was just caught sitting around waiting for something that never came.”
Finishing in equal fifth place were Filipe Toledo (BRA), Dillon Perillo (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS) who were eliminated in the Quarterfinals.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito ran through six action packed days of competition and included some of the best aerial performances seen on the ‘QS this season, including a pair of perfect-10 point rides from Brasil’s Filipe Toledo.
For more information visit www.mrpricepro.com.
Image Caption: Timmy Reyes (USA) winning the ASP Prime-rated Mr Price Pro Ballito over Adam Melling (AUS) . Image credit: © Mr Price/ Cestari