Brazil’s Ibelli in top form at Ballito

2012-07-06 00:00

IT’S TAKEN four frustrating days, but it has been worth the wait to see Willards Beach deliver its finest waves for this year’s edition of the Mr Price Pro Ballito.

Inclement weather had seen proceedings called off early on all three days as strong winds had led to rough conditions, unfavourable or hazardous for surfing.

But hope and perseverance was rewarded yesterday when the sun rose over near perfect conditions with solid, one metre walls reeling in to shore.

This swell is what the surfing world speaks of, the jewel in South Africa’s surfing crown and what lures the world’s best waveriders to our shores.

Those who still had heats to complete were licking their lips like hungry wolves in anticipation of keeping the judges busy, while officials and organisers breathed a sigh of relief.

A full day of surfing was on the cards, allowing the heats to be completed and the business end of the contest being reached.

An early 7am start allowed surfers to enjoy maximum use of the conditions and South Africans in action in the round of 96 were Rudy Palmboom, Brandon Jackson, Greg Emslie, Dale Staples and Steven Sawyer. They were looking to join Beyrick de Vries, Charl du Toit, Travis Logie, Shaun Joubert and Jordy Smith in the round of 48.

For these local heroes, it was a day to forget as they failed to master the conditions. All but Emslie ended fourth and way off the winning scores in their heats.

Emslie finished second in his heat with 13,73 points, behind winner Jay Quinn (New Zealand) on 15,00 and ahead of Adrien Toyon (France) on 13,24. His reward is a heat in the round of 48 with Nat Young (USA), Nathan Yeomans (USA) and Thiago Camarao.

Highlight of round was ASP World Junior Champion Caio Ibelli of Brazil notching a superb individual wave score of 9,17 (from a possible 10) for his radical under-the-lip reverse manoeuvre

“I’ve been waiting to perform this in a heat and the wave was the best I have surfed in the competition to date. In such ideal conditions, I had to pull off something spectacular to secure a win,” he said. He ended with a score of 17,17 in a heat littered with manic aerials and in-the-pocket turns as all surfers vied for top spot.

In the round of 48, the South African flag flew proud and tall. De Vries, a wildcard, took no prisoners in his heat, scoring 13,50 to take the honours from ATP world No. 15 Tiago Pires (Portugal) on 13,17, Masatoshi Ohno (Japan) on 10,97 and Stu Kennedy (Australia) on 10,96.

Said de Vries: “This is the first time in a prime event I have made it past the round of 48. I have tried to surf freely without letting my nerves take over, which inevitably sees me lose. I’ve obviously got it right and with the home crowd support enjoyed two of my best ramps ever at Ballito.”

Not to be outdone, Logie (15,20) advanced to the last 24 with a solid win in his heat, warding off Brazilians Tomas Hermes (13,70) and Wiggolly Dantes (11,50). Chad du Toit’s run ended as he only managed fourth with 8,33 in this heat.

For Logie, it was a waiting game, but his patience was rewarded. “I only kicked into action at the halfway stage of the heat and had to make up ground from behind.

“We were all jostling for the best waves and I happened to bag two good ones,” he said.

Jordy Smith continued his march to a second Mr Price Pro Ballito title with a strong win in his round of 48 heat, scoring an impressive 16,50, well ahead of Spain’s Hodei Collazo on 12,17. Again, it was Smith’s aerial prowess and a touch of switchfooting (swopping front feet while riding) thrown in, which paved his way forward.

Towards the end of the day, defending champion Patrick Gudauskas (12,77) finished second in his round of 48 heat to Hawaii’s Torrey Meister (15,07), but it was enough to advance to the final 24.

Yesterday was the best day of the contest so far as 20 heats were reeled off, completing the round of 96 and 10 heats in the round of 48. Conditions permitting, the round of 48 and heats in the round of 24 should be finished today.

Officials make a call at 7am today.

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