SOUTH Africa's Beyrick de Vries produced the best performance by a local and his fifth place finish at Sunday's Ballito Pro in Ballito saw his ranking jump from 98th to 12th.
That also moves him into contention to qualify for the 2017 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour.
The Umhlanga local also collected an additional R50 000 by winning both the Monster Energy 'Wave of the Week' video award and the Zigzag Expression Session to cap one of the best weeks of his career.
“It's just been an awesome week, one of the best weeks in a long time, maybe in my life,” said de Vries.
“It's just a crazy transition of emotions and the beach support was amazing. I feel like my best work is done when I'm having fun and I wanted to take a break from professional surfing and focusing on being a surfer again. And now this happens.”
Australia's Connor O'Leary, pictured above, won the event in epic 1-1.5m waves, defeating Joan Duru of France in the final held in front of a packed beach basking in warm mid-winter sunshine and windless conditions.
In a high scoring final where the lead constantly changed hands, both surfers posted excellent rides on their backhand in the long right-handers before O'Leary etched his name on the winner's trophy with an explosive ride punctuated by three vertical re-entries for a 9.20 and a 17.30 vs. 15.80 victory.
“It's surreal. I feel like it hasn't actually happened and it hasn't hit me yet. I'm just over the moon,” said O'Leary. “It's one of my best results so far. To make the final I was beyond stoked and to take the win just tops it off. Joan's surfing has been amazing recently and he's one of my favourite surfers on the QS, so to have a final with him was amazing.”
Victory in the first World Surf League (WSL) QS 10,000 rated event of the year earned O'Leary US $40 000 (about R600 000) and his haul of 10 000 points saw the 22 year-old move up 13 places to No2 in the rankings.