In the perfect built up to the Corona Open JBay, Jordy Smith won the Ballito Pro in front of a packed beach of partisan spectators yesterday, defeating Brazilian Willian Cardoso in a pulsating final to add the 2017 event title to his previous victory in 2010.
The big South African overcame a stomach bug that almost derailed his charge in mid week to reach the final of the first World Surf League (WSL) QS10,000 rated event of the year where he used his trademark repertoire of aerial manoeuvres to post an impressive heat total 18.06, including near perfect 9.73.
“I had a bit of a slow start, but I ended up sticking that first air and from there I was actually enjoying my surf out there and just taking my time as the waves came through,” said Smith.
“Eventually I got that one wave with a nice section and got one of the biggest ramps all week and just went for it and I landed it.
“I’m really happy with my performance this week and hopefully I can take this momentum to JBay. Willian is a tenacious competitor as all the Brazilians are. He’s one of the most powerful surfers in the world and we’re both bigger guys so we were matching fire with fire.
“It’s such an honour winning this event with so many of my friends and family here. Thanks so much to everyone who’s come down to the event, your support makes a huge difference for us local surfers.”
His haul of 10,000 points sees Smith jump straight into fifth position on the QS rankings along with a massive boost of confidence as he heads to Jeffreys Bay for the Corona Open which starts on Wednesday where he is a former two-time event winner (2010 & 2011).
Crowd favourite Michael February had an incredible run through the event, posting his career-best result on his way to third place after suffering a narrow loss to Smith in their all-South African semifinal encounter.
The Capetonian matched Smith ride-for-ride in the early stages before the heat burst into life in the last five minutes with a flurry of rides that saw Smith nail down his berth in the final with back-to back excellent rides that February could not equal as time ran out.
“When you surf against Jordy you’ve got to be at your best, he’s so good, and it was pretty cool to watch him from the water,” said February. “It’s awesome to surf against him because he is such an amazing surfer.
His third place finish saw February leapfrog from 21st to No. 4 on the QS rankings, giving him an solid base from which to challenge for a place in top 10 in the year end rankings and qualification for the elite CT
“Secretly I was a little bummed for Mikey February. I would have liked to be in the finals with him but that’s just the way our sport goes,” commented Smith on his compatriot.
“I just wish him all the best, I really hope he brings it and joins me on the tour next year. He’s got the ability and the confidence to go all the way.”
Full results, video footage, photos and news from the Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong can be found at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App.
BALLITO PRO PRES. BY BILLABONG SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.10 def. Michael February (ZAF) 13.10
SF 2: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.00 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 10.84
BALLITO PRO PRES. BY BILLABONG QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Michael February (ZAF) 15.33 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 12.43
QF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.20
QF 3: Mikey Wright (AUS) 14.66 def. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 6.70
QF 4: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 15.83 def. Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 12.77