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Mikey February Keeps the South African Flag Flying High

Day Three Of The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong

MFeb kicks in and shows the world what's coming.

It was a darn exciting day of surfing at Willard Beach in Ballito today, with some big names bowing out and a few fresh faces giving it stick. Mikey February was one surfer who had a good day, to add another level to what has been a good year so far.

The first heat of Round Three was a real slugfest between MFeb and Alejo Muniz, with neither prepared to give an inch. After trailing for a short while, February, the lanky South African, picked up a solid runner. It was his first real wave of the heat, and he launched straight into a massive grab-free forehand air-reverse to bank a solid 8.83 score and a swing from second to first. Muniz was also on fire however, and eventually won the heat. The young Frenchman Charly Martin came on strong toward the end of the heat, desperately looking for the big ramp sections, and attempted big moves in the dying minutes, but couldn't find what he was looking for, and was eliminated needing one big score.

2015 event winner Alejo Muniz of Brazil advanced to Round Four of The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong after winning Heat 1 of Round Three at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa. With power and aggression, Alejo Muniz edged past a rampant MFeb in their Round Three encounter, but both advanced to the next round. WSL / Kelly Cestari

"It would've been nice to get a better wave earlier on in the heat, but in the beginning I was kind of up and down the whole time," said Mikey. "I knew there were a lot of waves all over the beach so I went and sat a little deeper and that worked out for my best wave."

"After that I felt a little more comfortable, and decided to sit with everyone else to get a backup, but Alejo and Hiroto can get scores on any waves so I'm definitely happy to make my heat. I've been coming here for a few years and just the support and having everyone backing you means a lot. You surf for yourself but it's really nice to have everyone here and you want to do it for them as well."

This has definitely been February's year, and he is looking like a real contender for a career in Championship Tour (CT) surfing. His approach to competitive surfing is radical yet calculated, and he shows a so-called Big Match Temperament of no nerves when competing at the top level. After a run of good results in South Africa it will be surprising if he doesn't bank a solid result here in Ballito. The waves at Willard suit his style, and he is looking hungrier as the contest progresses. February has yet to peak in this tournament, and if he continues his wining ways there is a chance that he might be joining Jordy on the CT sometime soon.

Currently at No. 21 on the men's QS rankings, a win at the Ballito Pro would boost him up the rankings considerably and put him with enough points to be over halfway to qualifying for the elite CT.

Michael February of South Africa advanced to Round Four of The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong after placing second in Heat 1 of Round Three at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa. All eyes on Michael February, as he keeps the South African flag flying high. WSL / Kelly Cestari

It's still early days, but the next few days of competition will be a little bit sparser, with some shock eliminations today. Jack Freestone crashed out of the event, as well as two-time Pe'ahi Challenge winner Billy Kemper. Stuart Kennedy, currently ranked No. 28 on the Jeep Leaderboard, was also eliminated, along with last year's semifinalist at this very event, Jeremy Flores.

It was a slow start to the onshore puffing today, and the waves remained glassy and smooth until the early afternoon. Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie put the event on hold, but the wind picked up to a steady pace throughout the hold period, and the call was made thereafter to reconvene again tomorrow morning for another possibly early start.

Michael February of South Africa advanced to Round Four of The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong after placing second in Heat 1 of Round Three at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa. Mikey February is a crowd favourite in Ballito, and is a great spotsman and gentleman when it comes to his local fans. WSL / Kelly Cestari

The first battle tomorrow, Heat 3 of Round Three, is top-heavy, with CT Jeep Leaderboard No. 27 Joan Duru and No. 23 Ezekiel Lau, along with QS No. 9 (and former CT surfer) Keanu Asing, as well as the dynamic QS No. 11, Griffin Colapinto.

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