The first 10K WSL Qualifying Series event just wrapped up in Ballito, South Africa. 1 of only 5 top rated events it’s a super important points grab for anyone dreaming of making the big time World Tour.
A strong WT presence kicked off in this event that also acts as a warm up for next week’s J Bay event. It’s the first real measure of who’s looking hot and likely to make the qualifying top 10 come the years end in Hawaii.
One of the big stories of the event was South African good vibes guy Micheal February punching his way to the semi finals. After already winning 3 lower ranked QS’s this season this was a massive result that fully established the crowd favourite as a top contender going into the next 10K events at the US Open, Portugal and then the Hawaiian finale.
Another key mover was Mikey Wright who’s crazy air game was more than matched by his huge carves and mature wave choice and heat management. Right now he’s looking good to join his brother and sister on the big tour.
Ballito’s shifty and powerful conditions meant surfers were able to display their full repertoire. The modern criteria of only rewarding the raddest airs and biggest turns was super evident in the standout surfing of Griffin Collapinto, Michael Rodrigues, Ramzi Boukhaim and Yago Dora. These guys looked incredible in heats and during the free surfs and expression sessions.
Jesse Mendes’s Quarter final finish solidified his place at the top of the QS rankings and in fact guaranteed his qualification. Runner up Willian Cardoso also has a solid grip and sits in 2nd place.
But amongst this Jordy Smith sent a bit of a message to the QS warriors if they ever make the WT. Operating in what look like 3rd gear for most of the event Jordy breezed through his heats. Only in the final did he light the fuse and look unstoppable.
Photos: Alan Van Gysen
Words: Joel Grey