It was a rough go for Kauai’s surf pair and Hawaii’s entire crew at this week’s Mr. Price Pro in the town of Ballito, South Africa. The Association of Surfing Professionals Prime event included some of the world’s best and Kilauea’s Sebastian Zietz entered as the fifth overall seed. Yet he and Gavin Gillette, also of Kilauea, were two of the first-round casualties in the 96-man field that has reduced itself down to just eight remaining competitors.
Eight surfers from the Hawaiian islands made the trip to the small surf town in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal region, but just two – Torrey Meister (Big Island) and Granger Larsen (Maui) – advanced out of their Round of 96 four-man heats. Meister had the best showing, making it all the way to the fifth round before being eliminated with an Equal Ninth result. Larsen fell in his second-round foursome.
Joining Zietz and Gillette on the sideline after just one round were Keanu Asing, Mason Ho, Kiron Jabour and Freddy Patacchia.
Though there were plenty of South African entrants, Seabass would have been considered one of the favorites to make a deep run. He surfed at Ballito two years ago and took an Equal 17th place finish, losing by just two-tenths in the Round of 24. Zietz is ranked 18th in the World Championship Tour standings, so he has an important back end of the year coming up. This result won’t negatively affect that ranking, but a good showing could have been a stepping stone.
A rather slow start put Seabass in catch-up mode for much of the heat, but a 6.77 score with about 12 minutes remaining meant he needed just a 4.97 to advance. That necessary score crept up to a 6.00 with about seven minutes left and stayed at that number for the remainder. Zietz was active and trying whatever he could do to find that score, but all of his efforts stayed in the smallish, three-to-five range. At the horn, it was Portugal’s Frederico Morais and South Africa’s David Van Zyl who had outpointed Zietz and France’s Maxime Huscenot.
Gillette not only had a difficult heat draw, but ended up in a four-way battle that saw first and fourth place separated by just a point. Through 20 minutes of the heat, Gillette appeared to be in great shape. He received an early 7.17 score that put him in the lead and backed it up with a 5.43 to stay in front with 10 minutes remaining. But American Damien Hobgood and Brazil’s Marco Fernandez each picked up big scores in the next two minutes to snag the top two positions and push Gillette back into third. For the final seven minutes, he needed a 6.59 that never showed itself. He ultimately finished fourth, eliminated along with American Brett Simpson.
The four quarterfinal matchups are Tiago Pires (Portugal) against Filipe Toledo (Brazil), Dillon Perillo (USA) against Tim Reyes (USA), Jadson Andre (Brazil) against Adam Melling (Australia) and Matt Wilkinson (Australia) against Jack Freestone (Australia).
Top seed and local favorite Jordy Smith failed to survive his second-round heat, which was won by Reyes with Meister in second place. Other favorites with early departures were second seed Kai Otton in the round two and third seed C.J. Hobgood in round one.
The eight remaining surfers are all chasing the top prize of $40,000 and 6,500 ranking points. All are currently guaranteed at least $7,000 and 3,320 points for an Equal Fifth finish.