A classic KwaZulu-Natal winter's morning greeted the surfers lining up for the round of 16 in the men's JQS 1000 Billabong Junior Series Ballito presented by BOS. A clean three-foot (1 metre) swell was running, groomed by a light off-shore land breeze early on. Conditions were perfect for competition with plenty of waves to give every rider in each heat ample opportunities to shine.
Round Two saw the seeded riders roll the dice for the first time, but they didn't have it all their own way. While Luke Slijpen had no problems, Koby Oberholzer fell short at the hands of fellow South African Calvin Goor and Brazilian Mateus Herdy who put together the highest heat score of the round, with 15.75, which included an oustanding 9.00.
Rio Waida from Indonesia continued his charge from round one to win over Jeffreys Bay's Angelo Faulkner and send Capetonian favourite Eli Beukes packing. "This is the first semifinal I've made here," commented Faulkner after the heat. "There were some fun waves out there and things went according to plan."
Another surfer who came out of Round One to bring the seeds down to earth is the Eden District's Aya Gericke who ripped his way to a win over the seeded pairing of Max Elkington and Dillon Hendricks, along with Daniel Emslie were knocked out, while Elkington kept his hopes alive in second place.
The women's JQS event got underway later in the day at Ballito's Willard Beach. Early standouts included Sophie Bell, Kirsty McGillivray, Kayla Nogueira and Zoë Steyn who all won their heats. Conditions later in the day were still highly contestable but the light onshore breeze had made things a bit more difficult and wave selection was crucial.
"I just wanted to catch the best waves out there," commented McGillivray after hear heat. "Or at least get the ones where you could get one good turn in on," she said. "There were some fun waves out there so it wasn't too difficult to stay busy," she concluded, adding that she is gunning for a good result in the event, this being her final year in the u18 division.
The stage is set for a grand finale on Sunday with the competitors chasing points towards the prized Billabong Junior Series presented by BOS titles. The points also count for the annual WSL Africa regional junior titles, and for the selection of the regional squad who will compete in the World Junior Championships in Australia in January 2019