Connor O’Leary’s breakout event last year was the Ballito Pro, and it was a Jurassic win for the young kid.

Still, he’s comfortably sitting at 7th place on the Jeep Leaderboard, sandwiched comfortably between Joel Parkinson to the north and Julian Wilson to the south. What a sandwich that would be! Three Australians! Natural-goofy-natural! Left foot, right foot, left foot! Top to toe to top! But, enough of the boggling imagination! The event last year was a hummer.

Ballito pulled out all the stops and provided those surfers eyeing the prize of a berth on the CT with a smorgasbord of surf conditions. There were tiny days and there were onshore days. There were offshore day and there were large days. The finals were held in cracking right-hand walls, reeling down an underwater point. High performance surfing ruled. Backhand surfing ruled. Power surfing was in charge. 

Let’s look back at the top four surfers in this thriller.

Connor, as mentioned. Seventh in the world, runner-up in Fiji at the Outerknown behind Wilko. Firmly entrenched on the Championship Tour now, and ready to do battle against the best of the best with his controlled tube riding and berserk backhand bashes. It was a win that made a man of the Cronulla boy with the Japanese mum, and he has a future so bright.

The precise moment Connor began his meteoric rise. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Joan Duru was the runner-up to this event and look at him now! Fast ripping and blue-steel determination! Hard forehand cracks in Fiji and the elimination of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach winner Jordy Smith along the way. Jordy Smith is sitting at number three, tied with Adriano de Souza and Owen Wright (sandwich!) and Duru beat him with carves and hacks. No barrels and no huge air moves. Longer waves! More rail!

Jeremy Flores fought valiantly in Ballito last year, but was left struggling for points in his semifinal. He even tried a crazy kerrupt in his heat but it was to no avail. Still, the perennial scrapper is still around, still going nowhere, and still fearless in mortally fearsome left tubes.

Ezekial Lau was the find of the event, and too capitalized on the points awarded to go out there and say ‘yes man’ to the Championship Tour. The 23rd –placed natural-footer can thank superb Hawaii breeding for his rare combination of power and style, akin to a sunny Garcia in his prime, and to a lesser degree a young Denton Miyamura, the winner of the 1984 Eddie. Zeke was a pleasure to watch, and killed it all the way through to the semi tussle against O’Leary. His foothold on the Championship Tour is also fairly solid, mainly due to his power hooks being a win in the eyes of the CT judges. Lucky to scrape out of the QS though, Zeke wasn't going to blow up on the grind.

Zeke's result here combined with a little help from good friend Kanoa in Hawaii, also cemented his place on the 2017 tour. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Last year the waves for the tourney were on the whole, really excellent. The problem with the North Coast however, is always going to be the wind. If the weather stays fresh, the chances of a morning offshore blow are always good. If there’s a warm patch, it might be the dogged onshore that has visited so many events in Durban over the years.

If the surf is anything like last year then the locals will describe it as *‘kief’, ‘dik’, ‘lekker’ or ‘mooi.’ If however it does get hammered by that onshore trough combined with no swell, then you will here descriptions like, ‘miff’, ‘kak’, ‘drek’ or ‘poes’. One wants more people saying the waves are kief than people saying that the waves are poes.

Translations:

Kief - nice,

dik - solid,

lekker – nice,

mooi – pretty,

miff – terrible

kak – shit

drek – miserable

poes – vagina.