Michael Rodrigues (BRA) was the standout performer on Day 2 of the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, as the remaining 15 heats in the opening round were completed in 1.2-meter waves at Bathers Beach. The young Brazilian produced a spectacular display of progressive surfing, posting the first perfect 10-point ride in the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) event for a series of powerful turns and a high flying aerial maneuver that he landed in full control.
Currently No. 18 on the QS rankings, Rodrigues was already leading the heat with scores of 7.00 and a near-perfect 9.20. The perfect ride gave him a heat total of 19.20, the highest of the event so far, and put him out of reach of his opponents who were left in a combination situation.
"There are good waves and the conditions are so so, but I make some airs and the judges like it," Rodrigues said. "I want to go to the next event in Huntington Beach so it's important to do well here in Ballito."
Rodrigues progressed to Round 2 (the Round of 48) along with second placed Stu Kennedy (AUS).
Earlier in the day, Ballito Pro top seed Italo Ferreira (BRA) showed the skills that have taken him to World No. 8 in his rookie year on the elite Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT). He delivered two scores in the excellent range (an 8.00 or above) for what was then the highest heat score of 16.70.
That left fellow Brazilian Flavio Nakagima in second place and through to the next round while Beyrick de Vries (ZAF) from nearby Umhlanga and Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) were eliminated in third and fourth places respectively. Nakagima gained entry to the main event by finishing runner-up in the Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong.
"It's fun but it's small," Ferreira said. "This is my first time here and I'm happy and I hope to keep going in the next heat. I did some airs on the left and I got a good rotation, so yeah I'm stoked."
The South African challenge for the prestigious Ballito Pro title rests on the shoulders of 22-year-old David Van Zyl from Glenashley. After the completion of Round 1, Jordy Smith (Durban), Michael February (Kommetjie), De Vries and Dale Staples (St. Francis Bay) have all been eliminated.
Van Zyl finished second behind Marc Lacomare (FRA) and ahead of Jonathan González (CNY) and Carlos Munoz (CRI). He posted a 6.00 early in the heat and then a 6.80 with five minutes to go, after which the ocean went flat and he held on to the runner-up spot.
"I haven't had many results, or many keepers this year, so it's hopefully going to turn my year around and I'm hoping to build off this first heat," Van Zyl said. "I surf onshore like this quite a lot so I know there's no defined peaks and you've just got to keep moving around and try keep busy. That's what I started off the heat doing, and then the rest of the heat I was just waiting for a bomb, and luckily the other guys didn't manage to get two big scores."
Cooper Chapman (AUS) was another surfer who excelled in the conditions, racking up a heat total of 17.27, the third-highest of the event, and fellow Australian Soli Bailey earned a near-perfect 9.57, the second highest score after Rodrigues' 10 pointer, en route to winning his heat.
Conditions are expected to be similar for Day 3 and organizers will meet at 7 a.m. for a possible 7:15 a.m. start.
All the action at the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong can be watched LIVE through July 5 on worldsurfleague.com and theballitopro.com.
The competitors in the Ballito Pro are also be competing for valuable specialty prizes in the Monster Energy Expression Session presented by Zigzag and the Monster Energy Wave of the Week presented by Zigzag which will reward the respective winners with R20,000 and R25,000 each. See more details at theballitopro.com/expression-session.