The Ballito Pro pres. by O'Neill resumed with pumping surf at first and extremely tricky conditions in the afternoon once the onshore came up. It wasn't a great day for Saffas with both Beyrick De Vries and Jordy Smith bowing out just outside of the Quarters. Instead it was the unlikely rise of three Frenchmen that marked the day's top story.
Jorgann Couzinet was the first to clinch his ticket for the Quarters, in a tense Round 5 matchup with form surfer Wigolly Dantas. The powerful regular foot found a longer set wave to hit three sections for an excellent 8.17 while the rest of the heat was mostly average scores. The Reunion Island surfer has missed out on CT qualification the past two years for just a single spot each time and a big finish in Ballito could help him cover ground in his bid to join the Elite Top 34 next season.
"It felt amazing to finally get a score above 8 on the board," he said. "I haven't been surfing great so far in this event and waves were super tricky today but I managed to get something good out of it. Having a big result here has been a dream of mine since I'm coming to this event, so bring on tomorrow and I'm super excited!"
Next in line was the current World No. 21 from Ondres Joan Duru. In his third season on the Championship Tour, Duru is still trying to find his mark and a solid effort on the QS seems like the strongest shot he has at staying with the world's best currently. Duru was facing Miguel Pupo and it was another nail biter as the Frenchman waited for the final three minutes to turn the heat and advance.
"We both started really bad and couldn't even get a wave to stand up on," he said. "But then we both got a 6+ wave and I had trouble finding a back up. The wind dropped but there were a lot of closeouts and it was tough. I've been coming here for ten years and it's really a difficult place to read, it keeps changing all the time and you have to be able to adapt quickly."
Finally it was Maxime Huscenot's turn to bring the heat in the day's final matchup with Reo Inaba. That last heat was also plagued by a long lull and very little opportunity and while the Japanese surfer tried his luck on several waves, Huscenot sat patiently out the back waiting for a set. His strategy paid off big when his first score dropped as a 6.00. He quickly backed it up and Inaba was unfortunately unable to fight back.
"I've been surfing in the last heats every day and usually around high tide which isn't ideal here," he said. "But I watched previous heats closely and I think my choice to sit out the back waiting for a set was the right choice. I'm stoked for our crew doing well here today, it's been a long time coming and hopefully one of us goes all the way tomorrow."
Prior to coming down to Ballito, the French crew has been stranded at home with 35-40°C+ temperatures and no waves in sight, which by the looks of it was just what they needed to get pumped to surf again when they arrived this week in South Africa.
"For me yes I think it was actually a great thing," he continued. "All this time with no waves allowed me to prepare physically, especially coming off an injury a little while ago I think I really needed it. Instead of surfing heaps and worrying about what to fix in my surfing, I just focused exclusively on myself and my body and it felt great."
Follow the Blue, White and Red crew in finals day of the Ballito Pro tomorrow, July 7, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos, LIVE webcast and updates right here on worldsurfleague.com!