12 July 2010
Twenty-two-year old surfer Jordy Smith made history on Saturday by becoming only the third South African winner of the Mr Price Pro Ballito, a result that lifted him into number one spot in the ASP World Rankings.
Smith defeated South Coast star Casey Grant in the final to claim an emotional victory before his home crowd. Riding high on the shoulders of his friends, the crowds exploded into cheers of support as Smith was awarded his R121 000 winner’s cheque.
“I haven’t won an event in front of my home crowd since I was fifteen,” Smith said afterwards (Smith won the ISA World Junior Games in Durban).
‘This is just wild!’
“This is just wild! I am so happy right now I don’t event know what to say!”
A standout from start to finish, the powerful natural-footer used his priority to wait patiently for the better-set waves.
Unleashing a devastating combination of power carves and fin drifts, Smith posted 7.50 and 6.33 (out of ten) scores off the bat, putting his opponent into a combination situation (needing a combination of two scoring rides) within the first 13 minutes of the heat.
Grant clawed his way back with an impressive three-second barrel ride to put himself back in contention with a 7.33, but it was not to be for the recently turned 21-year-old. Smith soon replied with a 7.93 for a series of savage on the rail carves to seal his victory.
“Casey has been one of the most outstanding surfers of this event and I knew I had to bring my A-game against him,” Smith said.
Despite creasing his board during the semi finals, as well as breaking his favourite board during a free surfing session earlier in the week, Smith looked comfortable and in control throughout the week, enjoying some of the best surfing conditions the KwaDukuza coastline has to offer.
“I haven’t had waves this good for a while, I’ve been travelling all around the world and it’s crazy to say that the best waves in the world are in my back yard,” Smith said.
“We’re so lucky we’ve had the opportunity to surf here and I’m really happy that a South African won and made the finals.”
Advancing to world number one on the ASP One World Rankings, Smith’s result puts him in a fantastic position heading into the next World Tour stop at the Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay next week.
‘It’s great to be at number one’
“It’s great to be at number one but it’s a long road ahead,” Smith said. “I kinda look at it like boxing: there’s 12 rounds and we’ve only been through four, so there’s plenty more to go and you have to hang tight.”
Standing shoulder to shoulder with his surfing icon, Grant could not have been happier with his runner-up result. While he could hardly afford to buy a cup of coffee on Saturday morning, his result ensured that Grant will fell asleep R68 222 richer.
“I never dreamed I would be up here alongside Jordy,” he said. “It’s such an honour because I have looked up to him my whole life.
“It’s been an amazing day and I can’t wait till that prize money comes in! It’s been a blessing to be in contention for the title and to win all this money. Words cant even described how stoked I am right now!”
The next big South African talent
Touted by the international judging panel as the next big talent to come out of South Africa, Grant displayed incredible flair and style throughout the event, recording one of the single highest wave scores of the competition, a 9.33 (out of ten) earlier in the week.
“It’s definitely given me a lot of confidence and a lot of people have said to me I better start stepping it up,” Grant said. “I think I’ll be doing a few more events this year and then hit the Star Tour full time in 2011.”
Placing equal third were Royden Bryson and Klee Strachan, both of whom were eliminated during the semi finals> They took home a respectable R34 112 each.
After an impressive victory over Damien Fahrenfort during the quarterfinals, Bryson proved no match for Smith during their semi final. Smith put some tubes to good use, turning the tables against Bryson by rapidly notching up 7.33 and 7.5 scores, which forced the East Londoner to settle for second.
2008 ASP Africa Pro Junior Champion Klee Strachan found himself at the bitter end of a seesaw battle against Grant, as the pair of South Coast surfers went toe-to-toe with almost identical scores.
Eventually it was the fast, flashy surfing from Grant that earned him a 7.17 to bump Strachan off the leader’s board and sail into the final.
Damien Fahrenfort, Greg Emslie, and Beyrick De Vries took top honours during the Island Tribe Expression Session, with the threesome earning R7 000 each.
Fahrenfort secured his win for the biggest aerial manoeuvre, while De Vries took home the goods for the most radical manoeuvre. Emslie won the award for the most powerful manoeuvre.
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