BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa — The action continued on day two of the ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito, with the remaining 48 surfers in the round of 96 showing their class in the wind-affected waves at Surfers Beach today.
After a powerful north-easterly wind forced organisers to delay the start of competition until 10h30, the event enjoyed five hours of high performance surfing with the round of 96 completed as a new cold front moved over the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Brasilian wunderkind Gabriel Medina lived up his reputation as a future world-beater, producing the day’s standout performance by topping the scoreboard with a 16.43 (out of 20.00) to advance in first place ahead of Heathe Joske (AUS).
Scalping victory on the ASP PRIME tour in Santa Catarina, Brasil earlier this year, Medina impressed the judges with both his barrel riding skills and powerful open-faced turns, posting a 7.17 (out of 10.00) followed by the highest wave score of the day, an 8.83.
“I’m stoked to get through, I got two good rides and I’m happy for that,” Medina said.
‘Portuguese tiger’ Tiago Pires found his rhythm early in the heat and despite arriving late last night, showed no signs of jetlag casually extending his lead over his closest rival Klee Strachan (ZAF), to advance in first place with a pair of seven-point rides .
“I’ve been really stressed at contests lately so I tried to stay calm and find my rhythm out there,” Pires said. “This is a really powerful wave, and there is a lot of talent at this event so it’s going to be a very exciting next few days.”
ASP World No. 30 Julian Wilson (AUS) stamped his authority over fellow countrymen Stuart Kennedy and Mitch Coleborn, adapting to the changing conditions by replacing aerials for lighting fast top to bottom surfing that saw him advance with 14.07 to Kennedy’s 12.77.
“The wind was perfect for airs in the heat before mine but conditions changed in my heat, so I had to change my strategy,” Wilson said. “Mitch and Stuart are really good surfers so I wanted to go out there and find the best waves. I was really nervous for some reason, so it was good to wash the nerves out.”
Adam Robertson (AUS) washed away his nerves with a series of sweeping turns, finishing with a critical floater that showed impressive commitment earning him the heat win with a 7.83 (out of ten) top wave score.
Robertson advanced ahead of trialist winner and north coast talent Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) eliminating Adrian Buchan (AUS) and Kai Barger (HAW) form the event.
De Vries revealed his intimate knowledge of the North Coast, sniffing out a rare barrel before punting a massive closeout re-entry to join a total of ten South African surfers who have advanced into the round of 48.
“I think the real highlight of this event for me so far was beating my super hero Sean (Holmes) in the trials yesterday,” De Vries said. “I used to watch him take down Andy Irons (three time ASP World Champion) in Jeffreys Bay, so to beat him was just amazing.”
Brendon Gibbens (Cape Town) and David Van Zyl (Dbn) were the final two advancing surfers from South Africa today.
Gibbens showed great form to take second behind barrel master Blake Thornton (AUS) who dominated the heat from the get go, posting a 7.67 opener.
“It was round one of a Prime so it was pretty nerve-wracking,” Gibbens said. “Conditions cleaned up a little in my heat and I was stoked to make it.”
David Van Zyl earned his place into the event as the first alternate replacing Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), whose flight was cancelled out of Tahiti yesterday.
Van Zyl advanced in second behind heat winner Matt Wilkinson (AUS), the pair eliminating Steven Sawyer (ZAF) and Nathaniel Curran (USA) from the event.
Former ASP World Junior Champion Maxime Huscenot (Reunion) unleashed a powerful series of top to bottom snaps and was rewarded with a 6.83 and 5.30 advancing in first place.
“Its really tricky today, yesterday saw amazing conditions and I think I got lucky in the beginning,” Huscenot said. “This is my first interview of the year because I’ve got second or lost during the first round every event so it feels great to win a heat and make it through.”
The afternoon saw exciting performances from Hawaii’s John Johns Florence (HAW) and Australian Davey Cathels (AUS), Florence winning his heat with 14.77 while Cathels went to town posting a 16.16 to charge into the next round.
The final 12 heats of the round of 96 were completed and with the cold front expected to bring more swell tomorrow, the event could get underway with the round of 48 in the morning. The next call will be made at 7 a.m. for a possible 7:30 a.m. start.
RESULTS Round of 96
Heat 13: Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.66; Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 12.67; Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.87; Kai Barger (HAW) 9.96
Heat 14: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.13; Alain Riou (PYF) 11.77; Tanner Gudauskas (HAW) 10.94; Tom Whittaker (AUS) 9.27
Heat 15: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.07; Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12.77; Tim Boal (FRA) 11.14; Mitchell Coleborn (AUS) 8.10
Heat 16: Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.17; Brendon Gibbens (RSA)
10.84; Marc Lacomare (FRA) 6.67; Jadson Andre (BRA) 3.97 two
Heat 17: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.43; Heath Joske (AUS) 16.43; Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.67; Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 6.76
Heat 18: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.23;Richard Christie (NZL) 12.96;Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.67; Tomas Hermes (BRA) 9.03
Heat 19: William Cardosa (BRA) 12.76; Jano Belo (BRA) 10.34; Richard Santos (BRA) 6.50; Travis Logie (ZAF)6.30
Heat 20: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.77; David Van Zyl (ZAF) 10.43; Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 8.10; Nathaniel Curran (USA) 3.47
Heat 21: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.94; Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 10.07; Klee Strachan (ZAF) 10.00; Dylan Graves (PRI) 4.13
Heat 22: John John Florence (HAW) 14.77; Felix Messias (BRA) 10.13; Alejo Muniz (BRA) 9.84; Pedro Henrique (BRA) 6.90
Heat 23: Davey Cathels (AUS) 16.16; Kai Otton (AUS) 15.50; Yadin Nicol (AUS) 4.70; Jean De Silva (BRA) 2.26
Heat 24: Adrian Toyon (REU) 13.26; Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.66; Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 9.40; Nat Young (USA) 8.77