The Brazilian surfers emulated the success of their nation's soccer team, dominating the punchy beachbreak conditions on the opening day of competition at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Prime-rated event, Mr Price Pro Ballito.
Fifty percent of the morning's heat wins belonged to Brazilian surfers, with Tomas Hermes (BRA) leading his nation's victory charge. Hermes posted the highest heat total of the morning, a 15.80 (out of a possible 20.00) and advanced ahead of Nic Von Rupp (PRT).
â€œIt's exactly the start I was hoping for,â€ Hermes said. â€œThe waves are so powerful and everyone is firing, it's amazing to be here surfing this wave.â€
Former ASP World Junior Champion Caio Ibelli (BRA) proved similarly unstoppable, earning his first Qualifying Series (QS) heat win of the season and the second-highest heat total of the morning, 15.10 (out of 20.00).
â€œIt feels good to finally make a heat,â€ Ibelli said. â€œI've had a lot of Round 1 losses, so it's great to get through here in Ballito.â€
ASP World No. 28 Alejo Muniz's (BRA) combination of speed and power through his turns, combined with his aerial mastery, added to the Brazilians' supremacy. He advanced ahead of Australian Thomas Woods.
â€œWe have similar waves in Brazil which is why the Brazilians are doing so well here,â€ Muniz said. â€œWe love to compete and we love to win. We're missing the World Cup at home but we are watching on TV and it's good to see Brazil doing well here and there.â€
Peterson Cristano (BRA) posted the day's single highest wave score, an 8.93 (out of 10) advancing in first place, while former WCT surfer Heitor Alves (BRA) appeared polished with his win over wildcard and 2009 Mr Price Pro Champion Tanner Gudauskas (USA).
South Africa suffered a major upset at the hands of the Brazilian contingent when Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) made a critical priority error, taking off on a wave that belonged to his opponent Alejo Muniz. The error cost De Vries his second place finish, and he was eliminated from the event. Having risen almost 100 spots in the QS rankings since last year, the local surfer had hoped the event at Ballito would bolster his campaign, on an international stage.
Logie secured the first of the day's wins for South Africa, posting the required pair of six-point rides (out of ten) to bump Dillon Perillo (USA) down to second place and Wade Carmichael (AUS) down to third.
â€œI had a bit of a nerve-wracking start,â€ Logie admitted. â€œI was falling a lot but knew if I kept catching waves, it would come together. It's a special win because I haven't been home some since February, so it's a great way to start.â€
Smith, meanwhile, employed his aerial game to secure a come-from-behind heat win over Krystian Kymerson (BRA). Together, the pair edged out South African trialist winner Brandon Jackson, who was eliminated in third place.
â€œIt was really fun out there, I didn't get the sets but I managed to find the waves I needed to get through,â€ Smith said. â€œI got to surf with one of my good friends, Jacko (Brandon Jackson), who I haven't surfed against in about seven years. It was just unfortunate he got knocked out by the Brazilian surfer at the end.â€
Despite suffering a bad case of nerves, Hawaii's Torrey Meister put together an impressive opening performance to score an 8.83 for an exceptionally high aerial maneuver. Meister's 15.76 two-wave heat score earned him his victory over Australian Matt Banting, who advanced in second.
â€œI was super nervous and I kept falling at the start,â€ Meister said. â€œThis wave is perfect for airs and I knew there was lots of opportunity out there.â€
Billy Stairmand (NZL) maintained his recent form that has taken him to No. 4 on the QS rankings, posting a pair of 7-point rides for a well-deserved win.
Sixteen heats of the Men's Round of 96 were completed in contestable, half-to-one-meter waves, before organizers were forced to stop competition for the day due to deteriorating conditions.
The event is webcast LIVE on www.mrpricepro.com