JORDY Smith (ZAF) won the Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong in front of a packed beach of partisan spectators on Saturday, defeating powerful Brazilian Willian Cardoso (BRA) in a pulsating final to add the 2017 event title to his previous victory in 2010.
The big South African overcame a stomach bug that almost derailed his charge in mid week to reach the final of the first World Surf League (WSL) QS10,000 rated event of the year where he used his trademark repertoire of aerial manoeuvres to post an impressive heat total 18.06, including near perfect 9.73.
“I had a bit of a slow start, but I ended up sticking that first air and from there I was actually enjoying my surf out there and just taking my time as the waves came through,” said Smith.
“Eventually I got that one wave with a nice section and got one of the biggest ramps all week and just went for it and I landed it.
“I’m really happy with my performance this week and hopefully I can take this momentum to J-Bay. Willian is a tenacious competitor as all the Brazilians are. He’s one of the most powerful surfers in the world and we’re both bigger guys so we were matching fire with fire.
“It’s such an honour winning this event with so many of my friends and family here. Thanks so much to everyone who’s come down to the event, your support makes a huge difference for us local surfers.”
His haul of 10 000 points sees Smith jump into fifth position on the QS rankings along with a massive boost of confidence as he heads to Jeffreys Bay for stop number six of 11 on the WSL Championship Tour (CT) starting on Wednesday where he is a former two-time event winner (2010 and 2011).
While he was disappointed not to claim the win, Cardoso was happy with his runner-up finish which bumped him up into No. 2 on the QS rankings heading into the second half of the year.
“I knew with Jordy it was going to be crazy in that heat and I tried to find the really good waves, but I just found one,” said Cardoso. “I’m just super stoked to be in the final, it’s been about two years since I was in a final so it’s really good to be in that position again.
“This result puts me in a really good position, but I’ve been in this position before so I hope to get more results in the next two primes (QS10,000 rated events) and a few six stars so I can go to Hawaii at the end of the year relaxed.”
KwaDukuza Mayor Ricardo Mthembu extended his words of congratulation and encouragement to Smith.
“We congratulate Jordy for his remarkable achievement which has demonstrated the rich talent that exists within our country’s surfing fraternity especially amongst our youth. Jordy’s achievement augurs well for the development of our country’s sports and recreation,” said Mthembu.
Alongside the surfing, visitors were spoilt for choice with non-stop activities providing even more entertainment throughout the Ballito festival site. South Africa’s hottest musical acts appealing to all tastes – rock, pop, hip- hop, kwaito, electro and dance – performed on Salt Rock beach on Thursday and Friday. Beach and extreme sports, culinary contests as well as quality retail and food stalls will captivate visitors to this coastal holiday highlight.