|Bronte Macaulay (AUS) and Cole Houshmand (USA) won the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill, Stop No. 3 on the World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS). After an exciting week of competition, the pair overcame a massive competitive field and varying conditions to claim victory.|
Vahine Fierro (FRA) and Frederico Morais (POR) finished runners up respectively, earning solid results in Ballito and a huge boost to their Challenger Series campaign heading into the second half of the season.
Major Win For Macaulay, Leapfrogs Into Top Five
In an all goofy-foot Final, it was a battle of the backhand between Vahine Fierro (FRA) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) who delivered standout performances throughout the week. Macaulay got the lead early on, building house and catching waves under Fierro’s priority who opted to wait for the set waves. The point of difference came in for Macaulay with her precision, power, and flair in her maneuvers, releasing the fins and showering the lineup with spray from her turns. The Western Australian has a couple of years of experience over Fierro and went all the way in Ballito including an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10), locking in her best result on the CS this year and leapfrogging her way to no. 5 on the rankings.
“I’m so stoked, I’m really happy,” Macaulay reacted. “I was kind of unsure about the year, not having a lot of points, so this feels amazing. I’ve been really inspired watching the boys on their backhand, but I’m just stoked to get the win. To all my family and friends back home, thanks for the support. Vahine is a teammate and she was surfing really well, she’s in that younger generation of surfers and I think women’s surfing is in a really good place right now.”
The Tahitian moved up into fourth place on the rankings ahead of Macaulay, and Isabella Nichols (AUS) claimed the no. 1 spot after her third-place finish in Ballito.
“Coming out of Olympic qualification, it was such a high for me that I wanted to make sure I stay grounded and also get a result here,” Fierro said. “I’m so happy to have made my first Final ever. The waves were so good and a big congratulations to Bronte, she deserves her win and I’m excited for the rest of the year.”
Houshmand Earns Back-To-Back Victories With Buzzer-Beater
Cole Houshmand (USA) earned back-to-back victories on the Challenger Series after earning a buzzer-beater to take out the Men’s Final in Ballito over Frederico Morais (POR). An unbelievable result by any standard, Houshmand jumped to the number one spot on the CS rankings ahead of the US Open, an event close to home for the San Clemente surfer.
“I’m speechless right now, that was the scariest heat I’ve had this whole event,” Houshmand admitted. “Luckily that wave came, but congrats to Frederico he was ripping the whole event. It’s been amazing. Shoutout to everyone back home, Kolohe Andino and the 2% boys, Kade Matson who’s been ripping, it’s been a real support crew.”
Patience was the name of the game with minimal set waves rolling through. Houshmand stuck to his strategy of waiting for the best waves, but with long, ten-minute lulls it was Morais who controlled the heat. Houshmand finally found a good wall to work with, unleashing his monster backhand for a 6.33. Not to be outdone, Morais locked in a 7.33 for picking out a cleaner, bigger wave and adding variety to his turns, going vertical into the lip, drawing his rail out for a smooth turn and throwing out his fins for the last maneuver. As the seconds were counting down, Houshmand paddled into a lump requiring a 4.34 and kept his nerves to whack two turns, and stay on his feet to get a 4.67. Morais caught a wave behind him, but it came in after the buzzer and did not count toward his total.
“I’m super stoked, but it’s bittersweet,” Morais responded. “I had the lead until the end, and I thought my last wave would count. I never thought it was going to be three and four score decision heat, but it is what it is. You got to take in the big picture and it’s a big, important step for me to get back on tour so I’m happy.”
Morais moved up seven spots to no. 3 on the CS rankings. Next up will be the Wallex US Open of Surfing presented by Pacifico from July 29 to August 6.
For highlights from today’s Ballito Pro Presented by O’Neill competition, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
2023 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Men’s Final Results:
1. Cole Houshmand (USA) 11.00
2. Frederico Morais (POR) 10.66
2023 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Women’s Final Results:
1. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 15.67
2. Vahine Fierro (FRA) 7.70
2023 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Men’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Frederico Morais (POR) 13.77 DEF. Kade Matson (USA) 12.83
HEAT 2: Cole Houshmand (USA) 18.10 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.84
2023 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Women’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Vahine Fierro (FRA) 12.10 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 10.50
HEAT 2: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 14.50 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 8.60
|Watch LIVE: Ballito Pro Presented By O’Neill|
The Ballito Pro Presented By O’Neill holds a competition window through Sunday, July 9, 2023. The competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app. Check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
The Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill is proudly supported by O’Neill, KwaDukuza Municipality, Surfing South Africa, SMG Rocks, Monster Energy, North Coast Courier, Coco de Mer and Fiamma Grill.
For more information, visit WorldSurfLeague.com