South Africans Jordy Smith and Dylan Lightfoot tasted success in separate events in Tahiti and France respectively on the weekend as the World Surf League’s (WSL) Samsung Championship Tour (CT) and Qualifying Series (QS) moved into the second half of the 2016 season.
Smith won his opening heat in the Billabong Pro Tahiti in uncharacteristically inconsistent and small 1.5 metre waves at the fabled surf break of Teahupo’o to advance directly to Round 3 at stop No. 7 of 11 on the CT.
The Durbanite overcame the disadvantage of having to contest the first encounter of the event by posting the heat’s highest single ride score on the first wave and then staying busy throughout the 35 minutes to relegate his rivals Ryan Callinan (AUS) and Dusty Payne (HAW) to cutthroat Round 2 match-ups.
Currently ranked No. 7 on the Jeep Rankings list, Smith will face Matt Banting (AUS) in Round 3 after the injury wildcard defeated Caio Ibelli (BRA) in his Round 2 duel. With the surf forecast for the event indicating that the waves will remain in the 1m to 2m range during the remainder of the event holding period, which runs until Tuesday 30 August, Smith will be keen to improve on his best result of 9th in the event (in 2009 and 2013).
The South African has earned 21 200 points from six events this year, the bulk of which came from his runner-up finish at Bells Beach in Australia at Easter and fifth place at the J-Bay Open last month.
After an injury ravaged 2015 season, Smith will be hoping to stay in touch with the rankings leaders Matt Wilkinson(AUS), John John Florence (HAW) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) in Tahiti before the CT swings through his more favoured events at Trestles in California, where he won in 2014; France (3rd in 2014 and 2011) and Portugal (runner-up in 2014 and 2010).
The 2016 Samsung WSL Championship Tour culminates at the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December where Smith has not placed in the top 12 since his fifth place in 2010, the year he achieved his career best runner-up finish to Kelly Slater (USA) in the chase for the World Surfing Champion title.
Meanwhile in France, Lightfoot bounced back from his early exits in the Ballito Pro and the trials for US Open of Surfing by advancing through two rounds to reach the last 16 of the QS1,500 Medoc Ocean Lacanau Pro, held in challenging 2m to 2.5m waves on the Bay of Biscay coast.
The 21 year-old from Jeffreys Bay incurred an interference penalty in his Round 5 heat on Sunday, leaving him fourth in his heat and 13th overall in the event. The 420 points he earned saw Lightfoot, the 2015 WSL Africa Junior champion, move up six places to 114th on the QS rankings, close to his aim of making the top 100 who qualify for the top rated QS10,000 events.
The event was won by Ballito Pro runner-up Joan Duru (FRA), who defeated reigning WSL Junior champion Lucas Silveira (BRA) in the final to maintain his No. 4 spot on the latest QS rankings. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Ballito Pro champion Connor O’Leary (AUS) are the top three ranked surfers.
The other South Africans at Lacanau included 2015 WSL Africa champion David van Zyl (Glenashley), who was sidelined in the Round of 64 with equal 33rd place overall. Rookie QS campaigner Michael Monk (East London) and Remi Peterson (Jeffreys Bay), who competes on a Netherlands passport, were eliminated in Round 1.
WSL Africa’s top ranked Qualifying Series competitors, Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), Michael February (Kommetjie) and Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), retained their respective QS rankings of 17th, 73rd and 77th despite not competing at Lacanau.
Lightfoot, van Zyl, Monk and Peterson will compete in the QS1,500 Pro Anglet Chambre d’Amour in the Biarritz area of France starting on Wednesday.
Lightfoot and van Zyl will then be joined by de Vries, February, McGillivray and Slade Prestwich (Durban, currently ranked No. 126) in the QS6,000 Pantin Classic Galicia Pro in Spain, which begins on 30 August, and the QS6,000 Azores Pro from 6 September.
All the action at WSL events can be watched LIVE on www.worldsurfleague.com
BILLABONG PRO TAHITI – UPCOMING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Bruno Santos (BRA)
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
WSL Qualifying Series (QS) Men’s Rankings (After Medoc Ocean Lacanau Pro)
1 Fioravanti, Leonardo ITA 17830 points
2 Ewing, Ethan AUS 16500
3 O’Leary, Connor AUS 14700
4 Duru, Joan FRA 14330
5 Silva, Deivid BRA 12680
WSL Africa Members (Top 350 places)
17 De Vries, Beyrick ZAF, uMhlanga 7680
47 Smith, Jordy ZAF, Durban 4800
73 February, Michael ZAF, Kommetjie 3610
79 McGillivray, Matthew ZAF, Jeffreys Bay 3395
114 Lightfoot, Dylan ZAF, Jeffreys Bay 2555
126 Prestwich, Slade ZAF, Durban 2185
166 Staples, Dale ZAF, St Francis Bay 1530
204 Van Zyl, David ZAF, Glenashley 1160
300 Benjamin, Brandon ZAF, Cape Town 695
304 Brand, Davey ZAF, Kommetjie 677
305 Maree, Jordan ZAF, Kalk Bay 675
305 Willis, Bevan ZAF, Umdloti 675
324 Monk, Michael ZAF, East London 628
330 Sykes, Shane ZAF, Salt Rock 610
348 Redman, Daniel ZAF, Umdloti 580
348 Sawyer, Steven ZAF, Jeffreys Bay 580
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.
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