7 July 2014
The USA’s Timmy Reyes claimed the biggest victory of his career at the Mr Price Pro Ballito north of Durban, South Africa on Sunday, defeating Australia’s Matt Wilkinson in six- to eight-foot (1.5- to 2-metre) surf in the final of the event.
A former World Championship Tour (WCT) campaigner turned big-wave free-surfer, Reyes opened his account with a 7.17 (out of a possible 10 points) for an early lead off his powerful performance on a reeling right-hander.
While Wilkinson answered back with an impressive 9.2 score, Reyes maintained his composure and, using a strategy he had dreamed about, he managed another big score of 8.27 to secure his victory over the Australian.
‘The biggest win I have ever had’
“This is definitely the biggest win I have ever had in my life,” an emotional Reyes said afterwards.
“I knew Matt would get a nine, and he did, but I had a dream a few days ago that I should just sit wide, be patient, and the wave would come to me. Almost every heat I had, the same thing happened and that’s what happened on my 8.25 in the final.”
Having returned to the water only two weeks ago after being out for 10 weeks with a shoulder injury, Reyes’s razor sharp performance saw him pocket $40 000 and 6 500 rankings points. His victory also rocketed him from 131st on the Qualification Series (QS) rankings to a remarkable number five in the world, opening the door for a chance to re-qualify for the elite ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) in 2015.
“I’m just going to take it one contest at a time, and one heat at a time and see what happens,” Reyes said. “It’s been a special day for me. Ballito came alive and I’ve had amazing support from the locals and my friend Sid who gave me a home away from home this week.”
Wilkinson, currently ranked 33rd on the WCT, was a standout performer, netting some of the highest scoring waves of the competition including, a 9.90 in the semi- finals and a 9.2 in the final. However, he failed to find a second high scoring ride in the final and was forced to settle for a second place finish.
‘An unreal event’
“It’s been an unreal event. I’ve had so much fun here and the waves have been amazing,” Wilkinson said. “I got that 9.2 under Timmy’s priority, and I thought I had it until I let him take a wave under my priority and he got that 8.2 score. I’m really stoked to come second, but obviously I’m pretty disappointed at not winning.”
Tiago Pires of Portugal and Australia’s Adam Melling finished in equal third place.
Pires stuck to his game plan in his semi-final decider against Reyes, but with high tide conditions providing few opportunities, found himself with his back against the wall and was narrowly eliminated with 11.26 to Reyes’ 11.50 (both out of 20.00).
“It was a very weird heat for waves, and I had a strategy that didn’t really pay off,” Pires admitted afterwards.
“It’s always good to come here and make a few heats and build up a bit of momentum. I’m not really looking for a qualification on the QS, but it’s a pity I didn’t make the final. It’s always big for our careers to win such a prestigious event here in South Africa and one of the longest running ones in the world.”
Melling’s strategy also did not pay off in his semi-final against Wilkinson. While Wilkinson kept busy, Melling chose to be patient and soon found himself in a combination situation, needing an excellent scoring ride to advance.
“I’m pretty happy with this result and I’m stoked for ‘Wilko’. He’s been surfing amazingly and I’m glad there’s an Aussie in the final,” Melling said. “Wilko built a lot of momentum in that heat and unfortunately I was just caught sitting around waiting for something that never came.”
Finishing in equal fifth place were Brazil’s Filipe Toledo and Jadson Andre, Dillon Perillo of the USA, and Jack Freestone of Australia, who were all eliminated in the quarter- finals.