"Jordy has always been a goliath to me," Beyrick de Vries said tearfully after his Round of 16 victory on Saturday at the Ballito Pro. The young South African had just advanced to the Quarterfinals by beating one of his longtime heroes. "He is incredible, especially on these big, open faces. The way he draws lines, and he has always been a big inspiration to me. I'm just really grateful to be able to take him out... I just took down my hero. By far the best heat of my life."
Beyrick's win over Smith is meaningful on a deeper level to many South African surfers.
When Jordy rose to prominence, it was an incredible upwards trajectory that led all the way to a runner-up to the World Title in 2010. He was light years away from that New Pier grom who enjoyed hanging with his mates more than anything.
In that meteoric rise, the rest of the South African groms, his peers, fell into a massive shadow, and no one has really shone through ever since. There have been a few bursts on the Qualifying Series here and there, and with all respect to the hopeful South African surfers, no one has been able to replicate his incredible results.
By beating Jordy today, Beyrick did not replicate the elder's prowess, but it must have been incredibly encouraging for the young Umhlanga Rocks surfer to beat one of his heroes -- and the one surfer who has possibly inspired him the most throughout his career.
How did he do it? By fast, powerful and committed on-rail surfing in the thick and chunky waves that were on tap. In a swell that grew solidly overnight, Beyrick started off the show with a large set wave, and three massive hooks in the critical sections for a deserved 9.73. The crowd went wild.
Jordy, still looking very relaxed, went to town on a set wave and got a clean tube, a few big cracks and a good score 9.64 just behind Beyrick. But in the end, Jordy was never able to catch up.
"That first wave felt smooth," said a jubilant De Vries. "I haven't had a 9.73 in a while and what a time and place to get one. That was the way you want to start any heat."
Other Day 6 Standouts...
Ethan Ewing! The Australian grom is the real deal, and proved it with a victory over QS leader Leonardo Fioravanti to advance to the Quarterfinals.
- Krystian Kymerson, the dynamic Brazilian goofyfooter, has quietly been ripping the heart out of Ballito, and his current ratings on the WQS -- 302nd -- is set to change quite dramatically with a Quarterfinal result. This is just his third QS event of the season. Could he be another CT-grade Brazilian?
Incredible performance by goofyfooter Joan Duru. He put 18 points on the board, and will now be pitted against Beyrick tomorrow.
- Electric surfing from Jack Freestone. His 9.4 for an explosive sequence of turns in his heat was for one of the most satisfying waves of the contest to watch.
- Ezekiel Lau - The Hawaiian's on a ferocious tear.
The forecast for Sunday looks great. It's going to be pumping at Ballito!