A big day of competition at the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill, Stop No.3 on the World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS) saw the field narrowed down, completing the Men’s Round of 64 and Women’s Round of 32. 

It was another clean, offshore start to the morning and the swell started to build, doubling in size by the afternoon with the westerly wind picking up and creating choppy conditions on the four-to-five foot wave faces.
The rights were lining up perfectly for the goofy-footers to showcase their fine-tuned backhand skills. Former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Joan Duru(FRA) got to work in the first heat of the day, staying low and throwing lots of spray into the morning light with his backhand, getting the job done and securing the win.

“I’m really happy I could surf this morning because the wind yesterday wasn’t so good, but now it’s kind of pumping, I’m stoked,” Duru reacted. “I’ve been coming here since the first prime event in 2009 and I really like it here, eating good meat every night, really nice people and the waves are strong.”

In another French affair, Tahitian Kauli Vaast (FRA) patiently built his scores until he found a great wave for a tight turn in the pocket, throwing his fins out the back and swooping over the closeout for a 7.33 (out of a possible 10) snatching the lead from Maxime Huscenot (FRA). Timothe Bisso (FRA) scored an excellent 8.60, going vertical in the critical part of the wave and speeding down the line to meet the section head-on. Only needing a small score to advance, Bisso sneaked into second eliminating Huscenot and Kian Martin (SWE).

Deivid Silva (BRA) surfed a smart heat, with consistent top-to-bottom surfing and strong finishing maneuvers. A former winner in Ballito, Silva scored a 7.00 straight out of the gates and controlled the rest of the heat to make his way to the Round of 32. 
Joel Vaughan (AUS) was already in the lead with a 7.50 when he opted to go left on his backhand, racing down the line with just one thing on his mind. Vaughan boosted a massive aerial maneuver with a clean landing for the highest score of the event so far, a near-perfect 9.83 and the highest heat total of the event 17.33 (out of a possible 20).

“I tried an air earlier and fell, so I was in fourth priority and thought I might as well just go for it,” Vaughan reflected. “I had some speed and saw a sick section, but I think I had my eyes closed a bit so I didn’t know how high I went. I was so stoked to hear the score, so I just told myself don’t get an interference and everything should be good.”
The ocean started to come alive, with pumping sets rolling through, right in time for an electrifying heat with Dylan Moffat (AUS), Cole Houshmand (USA), Guillermo Satt (CHL) and Jarvis Earle (AUS). The 7-point rides started raining down, but Moffat got the win over Houshmand. The Californian crew of Houshmand, Kolohe Andino (USA), Nolan Rapoza (USA), Dimitri Poulus (USA) and Nat Young (USA) all advanced to the Round of 32. 
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) continued to chip away at her Challenger Series campaign with a win in the first heat of the Women’s Round of 32. Fitzgibbons kept building her score, finally getting a 7.00 throwing her fins out the back and climbing over the white water for a solid finish. 

“It’s just an awesome adrenaline rush, even after all these years,” Fitzgibbons said. “We’ve had a few days to warm up and watching all the surfing the past few days, the energy is in your feet and you’re ready to surf. It’s good to have that outlet and run into the heat, and it was awesome to have a start like that. It’s been a minute since I’ve last been here but it’s such a pleasure to be back.”

The current Top 5 on the CS rankings will see a big shuffle, with no.1 India Robinson (AUS) not competing in this event, and a surprise elimination today for Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and Teresa Bonvalot (POR). Joining Fitzgibbons in the Round of 16 is current no.3 Isabella Nichols (AUS) and no.5 Alyssa Spencer (AUS).
Feeding off the support on the beach and relying on her local knowledge, Sarah Baum (RSA) kicked off her campaign in Ballito with a confident-boosting heat win. She opened her encounter with a 7.67 on her backhand, adding lots of flair in her first turn and managing the end section with composure. Baum stayed in control from the get-go, increasing her lead with a midrange score to get the win over Kirra Pinkerton (USA). Baum is on the cusp of making the Top 5 on the CS rankings and every heat win is crucial for the South African to realise her dreams of reaching the elite level.

“I noticed the wave starting to work off the rock just before I paddled out for my heat and got that first one straight off the bat which kind of set me up for the rest of the heat,” Baum responded. “The support on the beach is incredible and it’s just so good to sleep in my old bed at home, with my Mom making dinner, I’m stoked to be here.”

Baum and Daniel Emslie (RSA) are the last two remaining South Africans in the event.

The next call will be on Wednesday, 5 July at 7:00 a.m. SAST for a possible 7:35 a.m. start. 
2023 Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Men’s Round of 64 Results:
HEAT 10: Joan Duru (FRA) 12.07 DEF. Daniel Emslie (RSA) 11.73, Eithan Osborne (USA) 9.93, Luke Thompson (RSA) 5.43
HEAT 11: Deivid Silva (BRA) 13.73 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 10.67, Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 8.40, Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL) 8.33
HEAT 12: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 15.16 DEF. Nolan Rapoza (USA) 13.20, Crosby Colapinto (USA) 12.04, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.40
HEAT 13: Kauli Vaast (FRA) 14.00 DEF. Timothe Bisso (FRA) 12.23, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.03, Kian Martin (SWE) 7.67
HEAT 14: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.73 DEF. Dimitri Poulos (USA) 10.27, Gatien Delahaye (FRA) 7.53, Miguel Tudela (PER) 6.57
HEAT 15: Dylan Moffat (AUS) 13.87 DEF. Cole Houshmand (USA) 12.40, Guillermo Satt (CHL) 12.14, Jarvis Earle (AUS) 8.40
HEAT 16: Joel Vaughan (AUS) 17.33 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 12.64, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 10.16, Justin Becret (FRA) 9.37

2023 Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Eli Hanneman (HAW) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
HEAT 2: Kade Matson (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Mateus Herdy (BRA)
HEAT 3: George Pittar (AUS) vs. Jake Marshall (USA) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA) vs. Rafael Teixeira (BRA)
HEAT 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Mikey McDonagh (AUS) vs. Frederico Morais (POR) vs. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
HEAT 5: Marco Mignot (FRA) vs. Joan Duru (FRA) vs. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) vs. Nolan Rapoza (USA)
HEAT 6: Jackson Baker (AUS) vs. Daniel Emslie (RSA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Jackson Bunch (HAW)
HEAT 7: Kauli Vaast (FRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Cole Houshmand (USA) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 8: Timothe Bisso (FRA) vs. Dimitri Poulos (USA) vs. Dylan Moffat (AUS) vs. Joel Vaughan (AUS)

2023 Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Women’s Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.83 DEF. Laura Raupp (BRA) 9.67, Anon Matsuoka (JPN) 9.20, Daniella Rosas (PER) 8.67
HEAT 2: Vahine Fierro (FRA) 12.77 DEF. Luana Silva (BRA) 12.00, Philippa Anderson (AUS) 8.90, Jessie Van Niekerk (RSA) 5.33
HEAT 3: Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) 12.93 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 10.87, Teresa Bonvalot (POR) 9.96, Zoe Benedetto (USA) 9.86
HEAT 4: Bella Kenworthy (USA) 12.74 DEF. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 12.63, Sol Aguirre (PER) 10.90, Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 9.00
HEAT 5: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 10.90 DEF. Ellie Harrison (AUS) 9.83, Minami Nonaka (JPN) 9.57, Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) 6.40
HEAT 6: Sarah Baum (RSA) 12.80 DEF. Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 12.17, Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 10.87, Zoë Steyn (RSA) 10.07
HEAT 7: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.57 DEF. Alyssa Spencer (USA) 9.24, Natasha Van Greunen (RSA) 7.40, Ariane Ochoa (EUK) 4.47
HEAT 8: Eweleiula Wong (HAW) 8.84 DEF. Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN) 7.93, Zoe McDougall (HAW) 7.60, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 5.30

2023 Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Luana Silva (BRA)
HEAT 2: Vahine Fierro (FRA) vs. Laura Raupp (BRA)
HEAT 3: Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 4: Bella Kenworthy (USA) vs. Zahli Kelly (AUS)
HEAT 5: Isabella Nichols (AUS) vs. Kirra Pinkerton (USA)
HEAT 6: Sarah Baum (RSA) vs. Ellie Harrison (AUS)
HEAT 7: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN)
HEAT 8: Eweleiula Wong (HAW) vs. Alyssa Spencer (USA) 
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 


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