Mr Price Pro: Oz surfer throws caution to the wind and ousts local favourite

2013-07-08 00:00

BELIEF in taking risks paid off for Australian Julian Wilson on Saturday, as he ousted local favourite Jordy Smith to lift the Mr Price Pro Ballito title at Willard Beach.

It was the final the fans wanted. Wilson, the top seed for the event, had enjoyed an outstanding week, his smooth style and command of the waves endearing him to the crowd.

He regularly picked off the right waves as he moved through the rounds, often winning with rides of eight or more.

For Smith, aiming to become the first winner to claim a second title ­after his 2010 victory, it was a case of so near yet so far.

Wilson’s daring and scintillating aerial manoeuvre was enough to impress the judges for the first perfect score of 10 of the ­competition.

Smith started solidly, setting the bar with rides of 7,67 and 8,83, leaving Wilson to do all the work. It was all or nothing for Wilson and his ­gamble of pulling off what is known as the Alley Oop manoeuvre reaped the rewards.

It set him up for the victory charge and, with the bit between his teeth, he added a solid 8,93 wave, with another aerial thrown in.

It left Smith with too much to do as the clock wound down on the 35th minute. However, those fortunate enough to witness the showdown were treated to an epic battle. Wilson’s winning tally of 18,93 to Smith’s 16,7 were testimony to the quality of wave riding on offer.

“It’s third time lucky for me in Durban,” said Wilson. “Jordy came out firing and set the tone with a couple of strong rides. I was up against it and had to throw caution to the wind. For the first time this week, in the moment that counted, I pulled off an aerial ­manoeuvre.”

Wilson became the second Australian to win the event, following compatriot Chris Davidson’s crown in 2008. For his five days of work, he pocketed a healthy R407 500 and shot to top spot on the ASP world rankings.

Smith’s performance cannot be faulted. With home crowd support, he delivered the goods, fighting all the way and falling agonisingly short at the final siren. He took home R207 500 and moved from fourth to second in the ASP ranks.

“I was honoured to meet Julian in the final and it’s a pity I couldn’t pull off the win in front of my many fans,” said Smith. “He came through when it counted and his aerial manoeuvre was awesome. I was with him in ­Reunion this year and he tried it millions of times without success.”

Earlier in the day, Smith defeated Australian Stu Kennedy in the semi-finals, while Wilson accounted for countryman Mitch Crews, making the event a good one for the men from Down Under. The losing semi-finalists finished joint third, Crews moving from 39 to 27 and Kennedy from 53 to 31 in the world rankings.

The rganisers voiced their satisfaction with the event. After the first day was called off without any heats due to flat surf, days two and three allowed 18 heats apiece, taking a huge chunk out of proceedings.

Despite Thursday and Friday being halted early, the solid conditions at the start of each day allowed time to be made up, and the winner was crowned before Saturday afternoon.

Quarter-final results

Heat one: Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12,70 def Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 12,16.

Heat two: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16,36 def Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11,34.

Heat three: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14,40 def David Do Carmo (BRA) 9,44.

Heat four: Mitch Crews (AUS) 13,84 def Mason Ho (HAW) 11,07.

Semi-final results

Heat one: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15,8 def Stu Kennedy (AUS) 9,9.

Heat two: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16 def Mitch Crews (AUS) 12,33.

Final results

Julian Wilson (AUS) 18,93 def Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16,70.

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