The lineup in Jeffreys Bay will be a much busier place for the remainder of the week, now that a handful of 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Men's Championship Tour (CT) surfers unceremoniously crashed out of the 50th Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong -- a Qualifying Series 10,000-level event -- on Tuesday. The fact that Supertubes, some 600 miles down the coast -- one of the most iconic right-hand pointbreaks in the world and venue for the upcoming Corona Open J-Bay -- has been firing consistently at six-foot plus will be some consolation, no doubt.
But, while the likes of defending event winner Jordy Smith, ranked No. 8 on the men's Championship Tour (CT), and event top-seed Willian Cardoso, the No. 5, might be missing out only on bragging rights and a tidy prize purse, other CT surfers who need those points to requalify -- such as Joan Duru and Patrick Gudauskas -- might rue the day.
They sit in the bottom half of the Jeep Leaderboard (where No. 22 is the cutoff for qualification) and would dearly have loved a share (or all) of those crucial 10,000 Qualifying Series (QS) points to catapult up the ratings and set up a QS top-10 push toward the end of the season, to ensure requalification.
A Tale of Two Strategies
Jeremy Flores, the CT No. 16, had no such problems. The Frenchman's heat with the dynamic Barron Mamiya, Marco Fernandez and Nomme Mignot, personified the two opposing strategies on the day: Stay patient and then put it on the rail, or catch as many was as possible and go progressive at every opportunity.
It is far from a new topic, of course, but in the punchy, shifting two-to-three foot (1-meter) beachbreak peaks of Willard Beach, it seemed to be a case of either-or, rather than a combination of the two.
Mamiya, the high-flying Hawaiian, stayed busy, taking to the air on any and every section, as did Fernandez. When it did stick, they were duly rewarded by the judges and each earned scores in the excellent range (8 - 10 points), with Mamiya amassing a heat total of 14.67 (out of a possible 20) thanks to an 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and a 6.17 back-up.
Flores stayed patient, however, and exercised priority at a crucial time to paddle into one of the set waves of the heat. He proceeded to put together a scintillating display of power carves and sharp top-turns in his distinctive style.
"I love it here," he said. "Conditions were a bit tricky and bumpy, but I'm happy to get the win. Every heat is so hard, so I'm happy to move on."
Another who benefited from a careful pick of strategies was Deivid Silva, who is ranked No. 2 on the men's QS, and who carefully selected the waves on which he showcased his backhand attack. The goofyfooter was awarded with two scores in the excellent range for a heat total of 17.04 (out of a possible 20), the highest of the round so far.
Krystian Kymerson, meanwhile, went to the air and put together a clinic of progressive surfing to post scores of 8.17 and 7.57 for a total of 15.74.
The Local Flag Is Still Flying (But Barely)
Two South African surfers remain in the draw. Matthew McGillivray who is ranked No. 10 on the QS, got through a low-scoring encounter to advance to the Round 48, while Adin Masencamp will surf in the first heat when the remaining four heats of Round 2 get underway.