A marathon day on African shores was capped off in spectacular fashion when one of professional surfing's veterans, Sofia Mulanovich (PER), added yet another WSL Qualifying Series (QS) event victory to her impressive resume. Mulanovich won the Ballito Pro pres by Billabong, a women's QS 1,000, beating Philippa Anderson (AUS) the final. The 2004 World Champion looked dominant throughout Wednesday, winning five heats on her way to claiming victory, her second in the event.
It was a case of the ‘exuberance of age' showing little regard for its more youthful opponents, as the 35-year-old Peruvian paddled faster, caught more waves and surfed at a higher intensity than any of her competitors. Some of those being nearly half her age, such as 18-year-old wildcard Shino Matsuda (JPN) who had a highly impressive run all the way to the Semifinals.
The result sees Anderson - who was born in South Africa and is the sister of free-surfer extraordinaire Craig - move up to No. 11 on the women's QS rankings, while Mulanovich jumps 19 places to No. 51. Their all-regularfoot final took place on the full, near-Spring tide at Swimmer's Beach in Ballito, one of the alternate venues for the event, after organisers had earlier decided to go mobile.
Conditions at Swimmers proved tricky but highly contestable, with lumpy, light-onshore, two-to-three foot (1-meter) peaks making wave selection crucial. Mulanovich stuck to the strategy that had worked for her throughout the course of the day - get a wave early, stay busy throughout the heat and make the most of each wave.
She rode lefts and rights, milking each, backhand or frontside, all the way to the sand. Mulanovich posted a 6.00 (out of a possible 10) and backed it up with a 5.25 for a total of 11.25 (out of a possible 20). The average- (4.0 to 5.9) to good-range (6.0 - 7.9) scores were indicative of a day when only two excellent scores - 8.25 by World Junior Champion Vahine Fierro (PYF) in heat 2 of Round 2 and 8.00 by Matsuda in heat 6 of Round 1 - were posted. Both of those came in the morning, on the lower tide at the main contest site.
Men's Round of 48 Decided
While the day undoubtedly belonged to the women at the Golden Jubilee edition of the Ballito Pro, the Round of 48 was decided in the first men's QS 10,000 of the year. Most of the usual suspects survived the last four heats of the Round of 96, with the notable exits being South African hopeful Adin Masencamp, Jadson Andre (BRA), who is No. 5 on the men's QS , and journeyman Aritz Aranburu (ESP).
With four days left on the schedule there is ample time for QS Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie to send the remaining men's rounds out in the best possible conditions.