Blissful offshore conditions greeted the contestants as Commissioner Logie re-engaged with Round Two on the second day of the Ballito Pro presented by BIllabong.
Heat 11 of Round Two was a two horse race between Ryan Callinan and Adam Melling , with the surfers going toe-to-toe in the bumpy but highly contestable right-handers at Willard Beach in Ballito. It kicked off with Callinan launching into a successful backhand air reverse, one of the first of such moves of the day. The score for the wave, 6.17, put Callinan firmly in first place. Not to be outdone however, Melling launched into his own version and another classy forehand air reverse to be in a solid second place.
"Ive been surfing loads of clean waves over the last few days here in Ballito, so it was a bit of a challenge to change it up and cut through the chop," said Callinan of the conditions. "I managed to get a few at the end."
When local hero and No.3 ranked surfer on the Championship Tour Jordy Smith paddled out, the waves were a little bit bigger and there was definitely more chop on the wave faces. Ramzi Boukhiam from Morocco was impressive on his backhand, banking an 8.5 for a massive opening ride and two huge backhand cracks for the highest score of the heat.
Young Koa Smith from Hawaii was also on point and upped his game in competition with Boukhiam and Smith, with some explosive backhand surfing and good scores. At the half-way point in the heat Jordy was sitting third behind Boukhiam and Koa Smith, with the slight Japanese surfer Hiroto Arai out of the game.
With ten minutes to go, Jordy came to life and picked up a fast runner. A huge power turn, followed by a tight and technical forehand air reverse saw Jordy move into second behind Boukhiam. He still wasn't out of danger however, with Koa Smith nipping at his ankles. Despite a whole slew of waves at the end of the heat Jordy couldn't find another big score and advanced in second place with Boukhiam winning.
Last year local hero Beyrick De Vries knocked out Jordy, but there was no chance of this happening at this year's event as De Vries was eliminated in heat 8 of the round by the feared Hawaiian duo of Joshua Moniz and Ezekial Lau. Ezekial was another CT surfer along with Jordy who was simply holding the line in Ballito.
The San Clemente duo of Tanner Gudauskas and Griffin Colapinto were paired together in Heat 7 of Round Two, and they both advanced looking sharp. 18-year-old Colapinto was runner up at the World Junior Championships to Ethan Ewing. He's currently No. 11 on the QS rankings.
By the time defending champion Connor O'Leary entered the water the conditions had deteriorated somewhat, but Commissioner Logie wasn't fazed and soldiered on. A 10,000 WQS event has a load of water time to get through, and Logie knows that he will need some leeway towards the end of the contest period.
O'Leary was up against former CT surfer and determined Aussie Dion Atkinson who has been competing solidly on the WQS since falling off the Championship Tour at the end of his rookie year in 2014. Atkinson was dogged in his approach, and made it very clear from the start that he's not going to be satisfied with second places. He would have to settle for that second place however, with fellow Australian surfer Jacob Willcox who was in first place. Surprise of the heat was the fact that Connor O'Leary was eliminated in fourth place. Ranked seventh on the Championship Tour, O'Leary will move down to the Corona Open JBay that starts on July 12.
Willcox was happy with the round of 96 win and moving into the round of 48. "It got really hard out there," admitted Willcox after the heat. "The tide filled up and the wind was really getting into it." The amiable Willcox, through to the round of 48, is clear about the way forward. "I just want to try and get through as any heats as I can and do the best I can in the event."
The event was put on hold immediately after this heat, and after 2 hours of increasing onshore winds, was called off for the day. The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong will recommence tomorrow with heat 14 of round two. This heat will see Yago Dora, Tomas Hermes, Tom Whitaker and Kiron Jabour take to the waters of Willard Beach.