Hall’s Irish eyes are smiling

2012-07-09 00:00

HE is Australian born but Irish first and foremost, and he left no-one in doubt that his eyes were definitely smiling after claiming the Mr Price Pro Ballito yesterday, the biggest win of his career to date.

Glenn Hall (30) jumped from 27 to 16 on the ASP rankings and he pocketed $40 000 (almost R330 000) on a day which saw the best waves of the week.

The predicted cold front hit Durban yesterday morning, but at Willards Beach in Ballito, it brought clean two-metre waves for the final day of competition. South Africans Travis Logie and Jordy Smith were in action early, taking on Nathaniel Curran (USA) and Nat Young (USA) in the quarter-finals, where the Americans proved too good as the SA pair settled for fifth overall.

But the day belonged to Hall, who started by defeating 2010 world junior champ Jack Freestone (Australia) in the quarters and Young in the semis. It was a close affair for Hall in the latter round as he secured the win in the final 30 seconds, posting the score he needed to advance, winning 14,67 to 14,50. In the final, he was up against Curran (27), setting the tone early with a solid 8,33 ride. Once again though, he cut it fine, waiting until the final minute of the 35-minute showdown to gain priority in the water and produce a 6,67 back-up ride which was enough to clinch the title 15,00 to 13,67.

Said an excited Hall, “This is by far the biggest win of my career. It was a matter of getting the wave out there and getting the score to stay ahead.

“Twice I prayed for the right wave as the clock ticked down and it worked each time. Nathaniel is no slouch and I had to be at my best against him. It was always going to be tough and I knew I had to be at my best to pull off the title. The lesson I learnt is to never be content with second and to keep pushing for more while the opportunity is there,” he said.

Earlier this year, Hall had also won a 4 Star contest in China and he was the runner-up in California at the ASP Prime Lowers Pro.

These performances saw him occupy 27th spot on the ASP rankings, with yesterday’s win seeing him in the top 20 for the first time.

“It’s a long, never-ending road ahead and it’s a case of where I end up and what happens along the way.

“I came to South Africa with all my eggs in one basket as winning and performing at prime events is what it’s all about. That’s what counts, that’s my focus and that’s what I’m taking into the next event in the U.S.,” he said.

Although disappointed at not going all the way, Curran enjoyed a massive week, one of the consistent standouts in the water. He dazzled the crowd with his carves, barrels and airs and left his fans in no doubt as to whether he will return to Ballito.

“It’s great to get a result after a year and a half of struggle. Making the final was just the boost I needed and I will be back. I’ve been coming here since I was 18 and it’s an awesome contest and insane wave. I’m already looking forward to next year,” he said.

En route to the final, Curran took down Logie 11,60 to 10,83 and ASP world number four Adriano De Souza (Brazil) 12,10 to 11,00, moving from 96th to 42nd in the world rankings.

The Brazilian showed his class and ranking throughout the week, consistently winning his heats and ending the contest with the highest individual wave score of 9,50 against Brian Toth in the quarters.

Young’s equal third place was his best result of the year, his highlight being the defeat of Smith, the current ASP world No 8, in the quarters, before succumbing to Hall. Toth and Freestone joined the South Africans in joint fifth overall.

Organisers, officials and sponsors hailed the event a success. While the weather caused anxious moments early in the week, it delivered when it counted, affirming Ballito’s waves among the world’s best. Spectators were not disappointed and testimony to the event’s success and standing in world surfing is having 96 of the world’s best waveriders hit the beach.

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