The scene is set for a spectacular final day at the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O'Neill on Sunday after an action packed programme on Saturday saw the fields in the men, women and junior women events cut to the last eight, with 16 remaining to fight it out in the junior men's title.
Clean but inconsistent one metre waves greeted the competitors at dawn and Round 4 of the QS1,000 men's event were first up. Marcos Correa and Alonso Correa advanced to the last eight where they will take on travelling companions Andy Criere and Vicente Romero on Sunday.
"Vicente and I are having a good run in this event - we came to South Africa together and stayed in Durban together, and we came to Cape Town and we are together again - in a perfect little house at the beginning of the beach,' explained Criere. "In that heat I started with a 5 and when I got priority again I got a good 6, which gave me confidence. I was trying to control the lineup and be smart on my choices but luckily it was a slow heat for waves and nobody else got a good second score. I'm very happy to get a bit of rhythm and make some heats, and Vicente made it in second so I'm a hundred percent stoked."
Alex Ribeiro continued his domination at Melkbos, opening his account with an incredible backhand ride where he smashed the lip five times for a 9.50 and then closed with an 8.73 to leave his rivals needing to replace both their counting scores. Ribeiro and runner-up Chris Zaffis will face off against Brazilians Robson Santos and Willian Cardoso for a place in the man-on-man semi finals
"I'm so happy - I make two good scores in my heat, a 7.7 and an 8.5, so I'm into the last eight and hope to make to the man-on-man semis," said Santos. "This is my first time in Cape Town and I like it, good barrels and big waves. It's hard but I like these types of conditions."
Australian junior Sophia Fulton, who is doing double duty in both the women's and junior women's events, had a great day, winning her every heat she contested. The lanky teenage who is coached by former women's world champion Pam Burridge and finished third in the hard fought Australian junior rankings, consistently found the best waves in all her heats on Saturday.
"The heats have worked out really well for me and I've been lucky to get waves that held up a bit and gave me the chance to do some turns," Fulton explained. "' really tough out there, but fun too. My strategy has been to sit right on the peak and catch the waves that look good and its worked out because I've won every heat I've surfed today and that's a confidence booster, so hopefully there will be more good waves on Sunday.
Former WSL Africa women's champion Nicole Pallet had the best ride of her career in the women's quarters. Sitting with just a pair of threes in her tally, Pallet took off on a set wave and strung together three massive turns that the judges rewarded with perfect 10, the first of her career.
"The heats before mine were really slow for waves and I was pretty nervous, but my coach told me to wait for the proper waves and stay calm," Pallet explained. "After a couple of threes I was trailing but then I got a really good ride and was expecting an excellent score, but when it came out as a 10 I was so excited, I've never had a 10 before! I was stoked, very stoked."
Liam O'Brien was the star performer in the junior men's first round, finding three good waves in his 20-minute encounter and leaving heat runner-up Koby Oberholzer, who won the East London leg of the City Surf Series in April, needing a perfect 10 points to win the heat.
"That heat went well, the waves were pretty slow but I just got into rhythm and I was in the spot when the good ones came, so I'm pretty stoked," said O'Brien. "I've been eliminated from the men's event but I'm through to quarters of the junior men and I'm happy to be here - the conditions have been great at every event I've been in."
The final day will start with the men's heats, followed by the quarterfinals of the junior men before running through the semis and finals in each event. There will be a Red Bull Airshow just below the finals followed by an awards ceremony at the event site where the champions will be crowned.
Event sponsor and current world No. 3 Jordy Smith will be signing surfing memorabilia from 11am and an outreach programme will be conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) featuring participants from local outreach organisations who will be involved in beach activities, water coaching, a tag team contest and beach relays with all participants receiving breakfast, lunch and a commemorative medal.
The Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro is proudly supported by O'Neill, City of Cape Town, Tsogo Sun, Skullcandy, El Jimador, Yesman, World Surf League, Surfing South Africa and Accelerate Sport.