Indonesian Rio Waida won the men's JQS of the 21st edition of the Billabong Junior Series Ballito Ballito pres. by BOS on Sunday 24 June, overcoming local favorite and event top seed, Luke Slijpen in the final of the event that kicked off the 10-day Ballito Pro Surf Festival.
Waida made the most of the shifty, onshore conditions at Willard Beach, flowing effortlessly from section to section and surfing with visibly more speed than most of his competitors. He posted an early 6.00 to take the lead in the Final and put the pressure on Slijpen.
Slijpen - who claimed the JQS title at the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley earlier in the week - is never one to back down however and kept busy, hunting for scores. He was unable to post anything more than an average score (4.0 - 5.9) and with 10 minutes remaining, Waida put the final nail in the coffin by dropping an excellent 9.25, the highest single wave score of the entire event, to leave Slijpen needing a perfect 10 to take the lead. That is how the situation stayed until the buzzer went.
The Capetonian will be happy with his result however, content in the fact that he surfed very well throughout the event and, more importantly, showed great composure under pressure. An example of which was how he came from behind to beat Mateus Herdy in the Semifinal.
The Brazilian prodigy had been on a tear all weekend and looked like a contender for the title. He took to the air in his match-up with Slijpen and held the lead for most of the heat, until Slijpen manufactured the score he needed with less than two minutes to go.
Zoë Steyn took the JQS women's title in emphatic fashion, beating Kirsty McGillivray in the closely-contested Final. The difficult onshore conditions saw the two stay busy, each catching a variety of low scorning waves. Steyn eventually found some rhythm toward the end and managed to get her final scoring waves (a 4.75 and a 5.60) back-to-back.
Steyn was impressive throughout the event, scoring a 9.00 in her Semifinal against Kayla Nogueira. The win consolidated her No. 2 ranking behind runaway leader Kai Woolf who did not enter the Ballito event, moving Steyn ahead of her closest rival, Sophie Bell who was eliminated by McGillivray in the semi-finals.
The points earned by each competitor are not only valuable towards the annual respective WSL Africa crowns, but also towards the selection of the squad of four men and two women who represent the WSL Africa region at the WSL World Junior Championships in Australia next January.