Competitors fight for the big waves

2013-07-02 00:00

RENOWNED for its sizeable, competitive waves, the surf at Ballito’s Willards Beach was disappointing on the opening day of the Mr Price Pro yesterday.

Flat morning surf forced organisers to put the event on hold until midday in the hope of a decent break coming through, but the weather gods closed up shop and no action was possible.

Australian Rich Porta, surfing body ASP’s head judge, said: “After placing the event on hold until noon, we saw no improvement in conditions and called it off for the day, waiting until tomorrow [today] to get some heats in the water.

“We are tracking a few swell models due to come through in the next few days but we will make a call as each day dawns.”

This is the third of eight events on the ASP Prime Tour and has attracted a strong field of 83 surfers from around the globe.

Included in the line-up are 13 of the top 34 wave riders and the best they could do yesterday was take to the water and enjoy some practice time on what waves were available.

Current world No 4 Jordy Smith — currently leading the competition for South Africa — was one of those who enjoyed a few low-key waves, but he was under no illusions that tough times lay ahead.

“It’s not going to be an easy contest this time around. I may have some home ground advantage, but with 13 of the world’s best surfers in the mix, it’s going to take a massive effort to take the crown,” he said.

Smith knows what it takes to stand atop the podium, having won the event in 2010. When the famed ­Ballito waves do roll in, they suit his style of radical air manoeuvres and barrelling.

“I know I can do well here and the wave offers big turns and airs,” said Smith.

“Whoever lifts the crown will be the surfer with the full deck of cards and I feel confident this week.”

Smith is not alone in rating his chances. East London’s Greg Emslie, a wildcard entry this year and a former nine-year veteran of the the world tour, has no hesitation in picking Smith as the man to watch.

“Jordy is always my favourite. Besides being a local, when it comes to talent, he is the best in the world. On his day, he is dangerous and can beat any challenger,” Emslie said.

He also rated another South African, Travis Logie.

“I had some tough years on the tour with Travis and he is a fierce competitor. He will be going hard and he has never lost the will to ­succeed.”

While focus will be on the big names, Emslie could be a dark horse in the event.

He is the recently crowned ISA masters champion and is reputed to be surfing better than ever. He has never won this event and with no pressure on him, is relying on the right waves at the right time to launch his bid for the title.

“I’m just fighting for the best waves in my heat. It’s about being relaxed and calm and getting the waves that count,” he said.

Organisers are meeting at 7 am today, aiming to start at 7.15 am.

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