- WSL / Pierre Tostee

It's safe to say Zoë Steyn loves Ballito. It's where she won her first-ever Junior Qualifying Series title back in 2018 and then had to settle for second place in 2019. After no WSL QS competitions for almost two years in South Africa, Steyn came back to Ballito with a competitive fire that's burning brighter than ever.

The goofy-footer snatched back the Junior title at the O'Neill SMITH Shapes Rookie Rippers JQS1,000 and then went on to win her maiden Qualifing Series event at the Ballito Pro presented by O'Neill.

The Final was a rematch between two of the most on-form surfers in Ballito this week, Sarah Scott and Zoë Steyn. Steyn beat Scott for the O'Neill SMITH Shapes Rookie Rippers title.

After an impressive semifinal heat from Scott, it looked like luck might be on her side. With building swell on the incoming tide, it was a slow start. Steyn finally got one of the better right-hand waves for two strong turns and a good finish to lock in a 6.50. She stuck to her strategy of catching the right-hand waves and backed up her score with a 5.17 for a total of 11.67.

Scott uncharacteristically got stuck on a few crucial waves, not being able to complete her rides, and had to settle for second place. It was a tough loss, and in the end, Steyn ran away with the win.

BALLITO, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Zoe Steyn of South Africa surfing in the Finals at the Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill on December 16, 2021 in Ballito, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League). Zoë Steyn with her lethal backhand - WSL / Pierre Tostee

"I'm so, so happy. It's my first time winning a QS event and for it to be here is so special. The waves are really nice, all my friends are here, my mom is here, so I'm really happy. Ballito is predominantly a right-hander so it's similar to home, it's punchy and has a lot of power and I really enjoy it."

With this win, Steyn jumps to the top of the 2021/2022 WSL Africa rankings.

"This win puts me in a good place for next year. I really want to qualify for the Challenger Series," said Steyn.

BALLITO, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Zoe Steyn of South Africa prior to surfing in the Finals at the Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill on December 16, 2021 in Ballito, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League). Greg Emslie congratulates his winning athlete Zoe Steyn - WSL / Pierre Tostee

Steyn's coach Greg "Big Foot" Emslie, who also coached South Africa's Olympic silver-medalist Bianca Buitendag, was visibly stoked.

"She's been super consistent, sticking to the strategy and game plan, and it worked out really well. It was tough in that final, we made a call to go on the rights and it worked out very well. I'm stoked, couldn't ask for much better, she had a great run. Pro Junior champ and Women's champ, job well done," said Emslie.

BALLITO, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Sarah Scott of South Africa surfing in Heat 2 of the Semifinals at the Ballito Pro Presented by O'Neill on December 16, 2021 in Ballito, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League). Sarah Scott going hard off the bottom - WSL / Pierre Tostee

After losing out in back-to-back finals, Kommetjie's Sarah Scott was still happy with her performance in Ballito. Maybe she's not getting that top spot right now, but we're expecting big things from this youngster. She's got a whole bag of tricks and she leaves everything out there whenever she pulls on the rashie.

"Every final was tough and hasn't really gone my way, but my progress towards each final for these past couple events have been great. I enjoyed myself and I'm super happy with my semifinal today and stoked on what I achieved," said Scott.

BALLITO, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Paul Canning (O'Neill), Sarah Scott (2nd), Zoey Steyn (winner) and Set Hulley (Oakley) at the crowning of the winners at the Ballito Pro presented by O'Neill on December 16, 2021 at Willard Beach, Ballit Crowning winners - WSL / Pierre Tostee
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