The ocean delivered for the opening day of competition at the ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito producing flawless barrels, two perfect 10-point rides and 10 broken surfboards at Surfers Beach, Ballito on Monday July 4, 2011.
The light northwest winds (offshore) and a two to two-and-a-half meter (6-8ft) swell held for most of the day that saw twelve heats of the Round of 96 completed, in what surfers were calling some of the best waves ever surfed on the ASP PRIME Tour.
Seventeen-year old Kolohe Andino (USA) proved master of the tube, riding deep inside a spectacular barrel to score the first PERFECT 10 of the event.
“I’m on such high right now,” Andino said, “These are some of the best waves I’ve surfed in my life!”
Sitting deeper and taking off later than any of his opponents, Andino opened up with an excellent 8.27 (out of ten) before dropping into an enormous ocean cavern, navigating through two wide sections, to come screaming out earning a perfect 10- point ride that had the crowd cheering in disbelief.
“That wave was amazing,” Andino said. “I wasn’t sure if I would make it out but I made that first section, pumped hard and made the second one. That wave was so good I was freaking out. I cannot believe I made it!”
Arriving from California on Friday evening, Andino was the first in and last out at Surfers Beach all weekend. Surfing everything from clean two-meter barrels to stormy four-meter wave faces, Andino’s commitment was duly rewarded with his victory win over fellow advancing surfer Patrick Gudauskas (USA).
Corey Lopez (USA) showed off his backhand barrel riding skills on a throaty wind affected wave, dropping straight into a four second barrel to earn the second perfect 10-point ride of the day.
“I was lucky to get that wave,” Lopez said. “It was big and gnarly, the first part was nice and open but then it got all foamy and I couldn’t see in front of me. I just closed my eyes, held my rail and came out! “
Returning to Ballito for the first time in 15 years, Lopez sailed into the next round with 14.97 (out of 20.00) ahead of second place and fellow advancing surfer Sebastian Zietz (Haw).
“It’s such a beautiful place with a great little beach community and today was some of the best waves I’ve seen on tour all year,” Lopez said. “It’s great to have waves like this at a contest.”
ASP World Title No. 12 Josh Kerr (AUS) jumped straight off an international flight into the surf, with less than four hours sleep Kerr produced an almost faultless performance to advance with an 18.43 (out of 20.00) ahead of South African surfer Brandon Jackson (ZAF).
“I was pretty excited for that heat,” Kerr said. “I had a fun free surf up the beach and then was just watching going ‘are you kidding me it’s pumping!’ I was just excited to get out there and rack up some really good scores.”
Proven big wave surfer and a well-respected member of the world’s elite 34, Kieren Perrow (AUS) showed class in the solid conditions, posting an excellent 8.70 for his double barrel ride to advance in first place over Nic Muscroft (AUS).
“As always there’s a lot of luck involved but everyone had a chance to get a good wave out there today,” Perrow said. “I got in late last night and it was amazing to wake up to perfect barrels this morning, these are some of the best waves I’ve surfed at a PRIME event in a long time.”
The South African surfers faired exceptionally well against their out-of-town opponents, with seven out of the nine surfers competing advancing into the next round.
Defending champion and current ASP World No. 5 Jordy Smith (Durban) made his intentions known in the deteriorating afternoon conditions holding off Brasilian Thiago Camaroa and Hawaiian Tonino Benson, to advance in first along with trialist Sean Holmes (Cape Town), who advanced in second.
“I knew conditions would change from the minute I arrived. Ballito seems to do that in the afternoon so I was just glad to make my heat,” Smith said. “I watched some incredible heats this morning, there was some inspiring surfing and it was good to see so many South African’s go through.”
2010 ASP Africa Champion Shaun Joubert emerged to of a seesaw battle against Hawaii’s Kiron Jabour. Joubert using the afternoon’s wind-affected waves to his advantage, by completing one of the only front side aerials of the day, to win the heat with 12.03 (out of 20.00).
As the tide turned it was American Austin Ware who picked off one of the biggest set waves of the day. Throwing himself into a wave that could have been compared to Backdoor Pipeline, Ware stalled for a perfect set-up and emerged cleanly to earn an 8.17 finishing in second behind heat winner Jay Quinn (NZL).
“I dropped in and the wave was so steep,” Ware said. “I just saw it opening up enough to get through and I came out, so I was pretty stoked.”
Hawaii’s Granger Larsen threw some Hawaiian might behind his open face hacks and risky closeout re-entry, securing a narrow heat win over local star Rudy Palmboom with 12.63 to 12.17 (out of 20.00).
The only Irish surfer in the event Glen Hall produced a pleasing combination of barrel rides and backhand snaps to win his heat over Royden Bryson (ZAF).
The competition was called off after heat 12 due to deteriorating conditions. The next call will be made at 06h30 for a possible 07h00 start as organisers look to make the most of the early conditions. For all the updates visit www.mrpricepro.com