The inaugural Ballito O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior kicked off the surfing action in this year’s Ballito Pro Festival on Friday with the Men’s and Women’s World Surf League (WSL) Africa Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 rated events.
Big, unruly conditions with 1.5 – 2 metre waves and onshore winds provided challenging conditions, resulting in low-scoring heats.
In the Men’s JQS 1000, Tide-Lee Ireland (Durban) didn’t allow Mother Nature to steal his thunder, bagging the highest heat score of the day with 15.25 out of 20. Ireland scored an excellent 8.50 and secured the win with a second ride that earned 6.75 from the judges.
Advancing alongside the Durbanite was Frenchman Justin Becret, who showed his small wave prowess with a strong performance in his opening heat of the event.
Ireland will face a confident Eli Beukes (Kommetjie) in the Quarterfinals, with Beukes having won two JQS events in South Africa this year.
Germany’s Lenni Jensen continued his successful campaign in South African waters by winning his heat ahead of Daniel Emslie (East London), sending Aya Gericke (Wilderness) and Brad Scott (Kommetjie) home.
The current WSL Africa Junior rankings leader, Luke Slijpen (Llandudno) will be up in the first Quarterfinal heat on Saturday and will hope to keep his number 1 spot in the rankings, with Beukes and Luke Thompson (Durban) hot on his heels.
The competitors in the Women’s JQS 1,000 had a tough day at the office, with the highest heat total going to East London goofy-footer, Zoë Steyn. Steyn, the defending event champion, will take the provisional lead on the WSL Africa Junior Women’s rankings after Ceara Knight (Kommetjie) suffered an early loss at the hands of Australia’s Pacha Luque-Light and Rachel Presti (GER).
The inaugural Ballito O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior Men’s and Women’s winners will be crowned today, Saturday 29 June and the results will determine the 2019 WSL Africa Junior Series champions and the four men and two women who will represent the region at the WSL World Junior Championships in Taiwan later this year.
Jeffreys bay local surfer DYlan Lightfoot will be in action from 1 July when the main event, the Ballito Pro takes to the waves.
Thereafter the best surfers in the world will arrive in Jeffreys Bay for the Corona Open JBay which will be held from 9 – 22 July at Supertubes – regarded as the best wave in the world.
The Corona Open JBay forms part of the annual www.jbaywinterfest.com