Massive Performances Determine Finalists At Ballito Pro Presented By O’Neill
BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Saturday, 9 July 2022) - The Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill, the third stop of the 2022 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS), completed the men’s and women’s Round of 16, as well as the men’s Quarterfinals, in building swell and strong onshore wind to set up for the finals on Sunday.
Highlights from Day 3 at the 2022 Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill
The most anticipated heat of the event so far, featured good friends Rio Waida (IDN) and Mateus Herdy (BRA).
Waida had previously eliminated the last South African surfer in the event, Luke Thompson (RSA) in the Round of 16 and continued to shine as the CS rankings No.2 put together another major performance following his breakout win in Sydney.
Herdy put on an absolute clinic in the previous round with aerial antics that won him the highest heat total of the entire event (17.24 out of 20). Needless to say the two of them in a heat promised fireworks.
Mateus Herdy (BRA) launched himself into the Quarters at the Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill. Credit: © WSL/Van Gysen
Waida took a page out of Herdy’s book and launched into a massive straight air punctuated by a couple of turns for a 7.83 and a firm grasp on the lead.
The Brazilian came back in the fight with a smaller maneuver above the lip, only needing a 7.01 which seemed easily attainable for the explosive regular foot.
With 5 seconds on the clock, Herdy pulled off a big rotation and a close-out turn but came just .51 short of the requirement as the two friends embraced in the lineup after an epic fight.
“I don’t know what to say, I just beat Mateus with an air game,” Waida said. “It’s good to have him in my heat, that’s when I push myself. I got that big wave and I was going to do a snap, but then Mateus came into my mind when I took off and I knew I had to go to the air to beat him. I couldn’t back it up, I only got a low score, so that’s good learning for me that I’ll take into the next heat.”
European Championship Tour Stars Entertain Crowds
Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) going to the air to earn a spot in the Semifinals at the Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill. Credit: © WSL/Tostee
The last Quarterfinal was a legitimate Championship Tour (CT) level heat between the current Challenger Series leader Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and Portuguese powerhouse Frederico Morais (PRT).
Conditions proved difficult to tame even for two of the best surfers in the world at first, but eventually Fioravanti found a bomb to lay three big turns on and post an excellent 8 point ride for the lead.
Morais came out of his comfort zone and actually went to the air to answer in a big way, posting an 8.07 for a massive frontside rotation to claim back first position.
With only a couple of minutes on the clock and under the priority of his opponent, the Italian took off on an insignificant wave but found a bowl on the inside and threw an impressive alley-oop, landed perfectly flat in front of the wave for an 8.50 and yet another lead change in an action-packed final heat of the day.
The rankings leader took the win and Morais put an excellent equal 5th place result on his season tally.
"That was insane, Fred is one of the best surfers in the event," Fioravanti said. "We kind of felt like we were going to match-up in the Quarterfinals. The heat was competitive, and he did one of the best airs I’ve ever seen him do. I’m lucky I got a chance in the end that he let me go. I gave it everything, I’ve been working on my aerials quite a bit and I’m happy it paid off.”
Gatien Delahaye (FRA) earned his career-best result so far at the Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill. Credit: © WSL/Van Gysen
While their early-round wins may have come quietly, the first Quarterfinal clash between Alejo Muniz (BRA) and Keanu Asing (HAW) brought the best out of the two former CT surfers as they engaged in a tense back-and-forth battle for a Semis berth.
Eventually, things went Asing’s way as Muniz broke his board and ran out of time to try to overcome his points deficit.
“It only took me 9 trips down here to make it to finals day,” Asing said jokingly. “This is all just a bonus for me, what I’m doing in my life is trying to inspire the youth and the kids I’m working with at Billabong. I’m using my experience to try to teach them. Honestly it’s just so much fun to come back in a heat and go blow for blow with Alejo (Muniz), he’s been doing this for a long time as well, and it was a fun heat.”
Not shy to go to the air either, Gatien Delahaye (FRA) stuck to the wave face in his Quarter battle with Jacob Willcox (AUS), milking every ounce of wall available to take a win into the Semis, the biggest result of the Frenchman’s career so far.
Willcox may have been missing experience in the lineup today as his opponent in the Round of 16, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) pulled out due to injury and Willcox did not surf before the Quarters.
Rankings Leader Caitlin Simmers Leads The Charge
Caitlin Simmers (USA), No.1 on the Challenger Series rankings, dispatched No.2 Nikki van Dijk (AUS) at the Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill. Credit: © WSL/Tostee
Challenger Series rankings No.1 Caitlin Simmers (USA) came up against No.2 Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and the heat didn’t disappoint with epic action from the get-go.
Both surfers opted to go right on their forehand and posted a high 6 each in the opening minutes.
Simmers was first to back it up for the early lead, but Van Dijk fought back to turn the heat mid-way through.
On the 5-minute mark, Simmers found another good right and put together a lightning-fast combination of two turns for the biggest score of the day so far, an impressive 7.60 to re-claim the lead and eventually take the win into the Quarters.
Simmers has been on a tear early in the Challenger Series season with a win on the Gold Coast and a 5th place in Sydney.
With another big result guaranteed in Ballito, the young Californian looks like a safe bet for a spot on next year’s Championship Tour.
“There were definitely more waves with a face in that heat and we actually surfed,” Simmers said. “I was pretty terrified because Nikki (Van Dijk) is one of the best surfers in the world and someone super fun to watch surfing. It’s tough to get someone like her in an early round, you’d expect her in the Final, but it was fun out there and I’m glad I got a couple.”
Macy Callaghan (AUS) continues to impress at the Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill. Credit: © WSL/Tostee
An all-Australian battle between Macy Callaghan (AUS) and Dimity Stoyle (AUS) provided plenty of action.
While the ocean was quite slow to distill waves into the lineup, Callaghan was anything but in delivering big scores.
The former Championship Tour surfer applied her radical backhand attack to the clean lefts on offer and racked up an impressive 13.26 heat total to advance ahead of Stoyle.
“It was definitely a slow start but I had my best friend out there so we were kind of chatting and wondering where the waves went,” Callaghan said. “I knew that heat was going to be tough so I was just happy to get two good lefts and a couple scores. I’m happy to make the Quarters.”
Alyssa Spencer (USA), Molly Picklum (AUS), Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) and Rachel Presti (DEU) claimed the remaining Quarterfinal tickets in relatively low-scoring affairs.
Surfers and event officials will be back at 6:30 a.m on Sunday for the call of the last day of competition.
The 2022 Ballito Pro presented by O'Neill Challenger Series will run at Willard Beach July 3 - 10, 2022. This event is proudly supported by O’Neill, KwaDukuza Municipality, Surfing South Africa, People’s Weather, SMG Rocks, Monster Energy, North Coast Courier, Coco de Mer and Fiamma Grill.
Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Men’s Quarterfinal Results
HEAT 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.40 DEF. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.10 HEAT 2: Rio Waida (IDN) 11.83 DEF. Mateus Herdy (BRA) 11.33 HEAT 3: Gatien Delahaye (FRA) 12.33 DEF. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 8.67 HEAT 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16.50 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 14.40
Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Men’s Semifinal Matchups
HEAT 1: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Rio Waida (IDN) HEAT 2: Gatien Delahaye (FRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups
HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Zoe McDougall (HAW) HEAT 2: Alyssa Spencer (USA) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS) HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) HEAT 4: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Rachel Presti (DEU)
Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill Day 2 Recap
Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill Day 3 Recap
Stay tuned to American Surf Magazine for more updates.