World Surf League: BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Monday July 4, 2022) – The Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill, the third leg of the 2022 World Surfing League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS), kicked off today and completed 16 legs of the men’s opening round of 96 in two to three foot surf at Willard Beach in Ballito.

The experience paid off as former Championship Tour competitors and household names from the Qualifying Series took the top positions in the first round of the competition. Hawaiians Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Keanu Asing (HAW) and Imaikalani Devault (HAW), or Brazilian Deivid Silva (BRA) and
Alejo Muniz (BRA) was among the best performers in the morning heats.

Silva remains the defending event winner in Ballito for the QS10,000 now Challenger Series event, last held in 2019. The Brazilian who qualified for the CT the same year was just dropped after the first mid-season cut and will be looking to go big on the Challenger Series in hopes of joining the top flight next year. It posted one of the highest two-wave heat totals of today’s 16 innings at Willard Beach.

“The conditions were tough but I’m happy with my two waves,” Silva said. “I’m delighted to have made it, the other guys started strong and it wasn’t an easy round.”

Current Challenger Series No. 2 and GWM Sydney Surf Pro’s most recent winner, Rio Waida (IDN) came out on top of a stacked heat to advance alongside former World Junior Champion Mateus Herdy (BRA ). The pair engaged in an all-out dynamic surfing showdown, Herdy going over the lip repeatedly while Waida capitalized on his lightning-fast turns and combos.

“I’m really happy to do my run, it’s pretty tough conditions but there were opportunities in my run so it was good, I was able to catch a lot of waves and build my score,” Waida said. “Coming into the #2 ranked event on the Challenger Series is really cool. Normally I would be the underdog or the lowest seed, but this time I’m the highest seed and that’s is something new. The victory in Manly was really amazing, I feel more confident for this event. I will just keep believing in myself, keep surfing like I always do. My goal is to qualify, so I focus on getting good results.

The first major upset came in round 12 with South African superstar Jordy Smith (RSA) knocked out in his first round at Ballito. Smith’s demise was partly the responsibility of fellow South African and junior surfer Luke Thompson (RSA) who dominated an overheat with Jordan Lawler (AUS) and another former junior world champion, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT). Thompson finished second in the Ballito Pro Trials earning him a spot in the main event and he kept his momentum going into the first round.

“I’m super happy, I was just happy to have a run with Jordy (Smith). He’s so gnarly, especially in Ballito,” Thompson said. “Having a heat with him, and Jordan Lawler and Vasco Ribeiro, who are my surfing idols, was an honor. We had three events before this and I used it as a warm-up, my boards feel good and I feel confident. I’m just going to take one round at a time.

Slade Prestwich (RSA) and Shane Sykes (RSA) join Thompson in the list of South Africans to make it past the first round, who both won their opening match of the round of 96 in familiar waters.

“I felt a bit of pressure coming here because we had the South African champions last year and I did well,” Sykes said. “So it feels good to start with a good score straight away and I’m super happy to be competing here at home, it’s going to be a fun week!”

The next call will be on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. for a potential departure at 7:05 a.m. (GMT+2).

The 2022 Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill Challenger Series will take place in Willard Beach from July 3-10, 2022. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com or check out the free WSL app.

This event is proudly supported by O’Neill, KwaDukuza Municipality, Surfing South Africa, People’s Weather, SMG Rocks, Monster Energy, North Coast Courier, Coco de Mer and Fiamma Grill.

Watch live

All Challenger Series events will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL YouTube channel and the free WSL app. For fans watching in South Africa, the Ballito Pro will be live on People’sWeather (DStv Channel 180 and Openview Channel 115) from July 7-10 at 11:00am.

For more information, visit WorldSurfLeague.com

COVID-19 Updates

The health and safety of our athletes, staff and local community is of the utmost importance and we have a robust set of procedures in place at each event to ensure everyone’s safety. The WSL continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is working closely with government partners and local health authorities to make the best decisions for our athletes and the sport.

About WSL

Established in 1976, the World Surf League (WSL) is home to the best surfers in the world. A global sports, media and entertainment company, WSL oversees international touring and competitions, a division of studios creating more than 500 hours of live and on-demand content, and through its affiliate WaveCo, the home of the largest high performance man-made studio in the world. vague. Based in Santa Monica, California, WSL has regional offices in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and EMEA.

The WSL crowns the men’s and women’s surfing world champions every year. The Global Tours and Competition Division oversees and manages more than 180 global competitions each year across the Championship Tour, development levels including Challenger, Qualifying and Junior Series, as well as longboard and big wave properties.

Launched in 2019, WSL Studios is an independent producer of unscripted television projects, including documentaries and series, that provide unprecedented access to athletes, events and locations around the world. WSL events and content are broadcast on linear television in over 743 million homes worldwide and on digital and social media platforms around the world, including WorldSurfLeague.com.

WaveCo includes the Surf Ranch Lemoore facility and the use and licensing of the Kelly Slater Wave System.

WSL is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences and stories to inspire a growing global community to live with purpose, originality and excitement.

For more information, visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

About surfing in South Africa

Surfing South Africa is the official national surfing federation in South Africa. The SSA is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and is recognized as the governing body by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Surfing South Africa is responsible for the development of the sport, the organization of national tournaments, the sanctioning of international events and the selection of national teams in all disciplines that are part of SSA.

SSA is one of 109 members of the International Surfing Association (ISA), the world’s governing body for the sport.