A powerful four-meter swell has slammed into the KwaZulu-Natal Coastline just in time to meet the 96-strong field that have travelled halfway across the globe to compete at the ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito this week.
Waves of up to four-meters sent adrenalin pumping through the veins of some of the world’s best surfers, many of who were scrambling for bigger boards to take on the enormous waves at Surfers Beach in Ballito on Sunday.
Showng signs of the massive conditions experienced during the inaugural event on the KwaZulu- Natal North Coast in 2009, this week’s forecast promises a cracker start for this year’s international field.
“We are delighted that the swell charts are favouring the Mr Price Pro Ballito once again,” event spokesman Pierre Tostee said. “The town of Ballito is buzzing with excitement and with the right-hander (right breaking wave) favouring the natural footers (left foot forward stance) it will be interesting to see how the goofy-footers (right foot forward stance) fair in the bigger surf.”
Wave forecasting website Wavescape shows a drop in swell to two-meters with light north westerly (offshore) winds predicted for Monday, which could produce perfect barrels in Ballito the morning.
While contestants aware of the swell forecast added bigger boards to their quivers, a number of international surfers have been caught completely unprepared and spent Sunday scrambling to find bigger boards.
Hawaii’s Mason Ho, 23, (HAW), son of former Pipeline Masters champion and big wave legend Michael Ho, was one surfer wishing he’d packed his Hawaii quiver.
Ho took a Hawaiian-style ‘beating’ during his paddle out on Sunday morning and unable to reach backline, was ready to trade in his entire quiver for a bigger set of boards.
“That ain’t no kids stuff out there,” Ho said defeated. “I’m going straight to Spider (Durban Shaper) to see if I can trade in my boards for some bigger ones.”
Brazilian Jesse Mendes, 18, (BRA) showed commitment and determination and was one of only a handful of surfers to make it out on a day that left many on the shore.
“My boards were definitely too small for me our there,” Mendes said. “I couldn’t do what I wanted to on the waves, they were just too big and powerful.”
USA Championship winner Kolohe Andinho, 17, (USA) arrived more than prepared for the bigger swell. The highly touted star landing at King Shaka Airport with both his big wave boards and legendary big wave surfer Mike Parsons (USA) as his new coach.
“My first wave in Africa was an enormous barrel in Ballito!” Andinho said. “This place is amazing, I can’t believe how good the waves are here and I’m just stoked I packed my 6’6 (big wave surfboard).”
Organisers will make the official call at 0700 on Monday morning that could see the Mr Price Pro Ballito underway as early as 07.30. The action will kick off with three heats of trials before the round of 96 takes to the water at around 9.00.
Eight South African surfers will compete in two trials heats of four, with the first and second places advancing into the final. The top two surfers in the final will advance into the main event
The first heat of the Round of 96 will see local wildcard and former elite ASP World Title Tour surfer Greg Emslie (EL) take on Brett Simpson (USA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and Hodei Collazo (EUK).
This year’s Mr Price Pro Ballito promises an action packed week of world-class surfing, music, movies and more. Free diving record holder Hanli Prinsloo will be launching her I am Water Foundation on Wednesday evening July 6, at the La Montagne Hotel in Ballito, while South Africa’s first surfing World Champion (1977) Shaun Tomson will be screening his documentary film Bustin Down the Door on Thursday July 7 at Willard’s Beach. The free Music Concerts will take place on Friday and Saturday nights July 8 -9 at Salt Rock Beach.