The Ballito Pro pres. By Billabong culminated today in good surf with Jordy Smith's victory over Brazilian powerhouse Willian Cardoso. Here's a little recap of what went down today.
Epic Final Offers Great Spectacle to the Fans
Large crowds gathered at Willard beach to support their favorite surfer Jordy Smith going against Willian Cardoso in the Final of the 2017 Ballito Pro. While Willian had a slow start in the Final, Jordy came out firing right from the buzzer and looked absolutely unbeatable as he landed airs and massive forehand turns for a combined 16 points in the opening ten minutes of the heat.
Everything seemed to be on Jordy's side, the waves came to him and his surfing was just above Willian's by a mile. Not to discredit the Brazilian though, Willian displayed his powerful carves and definitely deserved to be in that Final, but just couldn't match Jordy's flair in the small surf.
At some point both surfers started on the same wave, Jordy on the peak and Willian further down past a couple of sections, and offered simultaneous surfing for the fans. Jordy once again takes the nod courtesy of a massive double-grab straight air to finish his wave. Scores come in as an incredible 9.73 for Jordy and an 8.83 for Willian, who's now back in the heat, but still needing a near-perfect score. The scoreboard remained unchanged and Jordy walked away with the win.
"Just to be here in front of my friends and family and such an awesome crowd is amazing, big thanks to everyone who came down to the beach," he said. "A massive congratulations to Mikey (February), I'm super pumped for him and I hope he can qualify this year."
Jordy got the massive crowd surrounding the award ceremony go mad when he answered the question "Will we see a South African World Champion in 2017?" with a simple but determined: "Absolutely!"
With his runner-up finish in Ballito, Willian jumped up to No. 2 on the rankings and eyes yet again a potential qualification for the CT later this season. An outstanding surfer all week, the Brazilian join compatriot Jesse Mendes atop the Qualifying Series standings.
"I felt amazing, I worked really hard to get to the Final and I almost ended my career this year and all my family supported me to come here," Willian said with emotion. "I hope I can get a few more results this year and finally realize my dream of being on the world Tour."
Present and Future of South African Surfing Clash in Semifinal 1
The vibe reached an all-time high at Willard Beach when Jordy Smith and Michael February paddled out for their Semifinal clash. As much as Jordy was a clear favorite coming into Ballito, the surprise of seeing Mikey February reach the Semis got the crowds excited and cheering both surfers on every single attempt.
The quiet first 20 minutes of their exchange unfortunately didn't provide many options and the surfers exchanged only average scores. Things finally got interesting just past the ten-minute mark when Jordy launched a big superman air landed perfectly for an 8.10. Mikey answered right behind with two critical forehand turns on a dumpy right and collected a 7.27 to stay in the battle.
Jordy dropped the hammer with another 8 point ride quickly after and put an end to Mikey's incredible run in Ballito. The talented South African who came into this event ranked 21st on the Qualifying Series will be bumped all the way up to fourth with his equal third place.
"It's awesome surfing against Jordy he's definitely someone all of us South Africans look up to," he said. "This event definitely gives me a lot of confidence, especially after all the 1,000 events we just had in South Africa. I'm super excited to go to the US Open now."
Explosivity vs. Raw Power
In the shifting lineup Willian Cardoso got a much quicker and stronger start than Mikey Wright, putting two good scores on the board right away. Mikey struggled to find the right waves and though his surfing was still on point, the scoring potential wasn't there as he chased a 7+ wave. The heat unfolded and Mikey couldn't find the magic ride as he placed equal third as well, his career-best result and a statement as he's in his first real qualifying effort this season.
"I fell on a few waves I probably shouldn't have but it's the first time I've made the last day of an event like this so I'm pretty stoked on that," he said. "Willian is such a great surfer I knew it was going to be a tough one, well done to him and I hope he wins it!"
There are No Losers on Finals Day
Jesse Mendes' elimination in the Quarters was probably the biggest upset, although with Mikey February's modjo all-week this was a real possibility. Jesse probably isn't going to cry his heart out still, as he leaves Ballito 5,200 points richer with a secured spot on the 2018 Championship Tour as he anchors his number one position on the QS with an immense 22,060 tally so far this season.
The rest of the surfers on finals day will all take a massive leap on the rankings as the new Qualifying Series Top 5 features a few new faces:
The next major event for the QS frontrunners will unfold at the VANS US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California from July 31 - August 6, 2017.
Find out more about all the results, check out photos and highlights right here!