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The Ballito Pro 2017


Aug 022017


We sat down with South African Pro Surfer Beyrick de Vries shortly after the Ballito Pro to pick his brain about competitive surfing, his mindset, the setup he picked for the event and his plans for the rest of 2017. Read on...


"Before I learnt how to win I learnt how to lose."

Tell us about your history with Ballito?

Ballito is just like my home break down the coast at Umhlanga with the angle of the beaches facing in the exactly the same direction. The makeup too, with deep and shallow parts making the waves break the same. I’ve been surfing this event for six years now with my best result being the quarter finals last year after I beat Jordy (Smith).

Can you run us through your current contest mindset?

Before I learnt how to win I learnt how to lose. The only thing that makes sense to me in competition surfing is to focus on the 30-minute time-slots you’re given. Check the waves an hour before and surfing your own heat to the best of your ability with the waves you’re offered. Although I was knocked out of this event early, I felt like I surfed a good heat. The unfortunate fact is that I was out of rhythm with the ocean. You can never fight being out of rhythm with the ocean. Without a canvas you can’t draw any lines and produce the art you need. I try not let the emotional stuff like last years good result, the crowd, the pressure, the rhythm etc get to me. My number one rule I instituted last year was to never back down and give every heat I surf everything I have. Surfing safe and for the judges isn’t fun and it’s not going to win you heats. And it doesn’t inspire you to surf more. You get stagnant surfing safe. So I gave it everything I had and it just didn’t work out this year. That’s surfing unfortunately.  

What board did you pick to ride in the contest?

The board I rode in The Ballito Pro was especially ordered for this wave. It has a bit more rocker up front in the nose. It’s a 5.11 x 19 x 2.1/4 with a squash tail. The rails are quite sharp which is less forgiving, but it helps draw great lines and gives me good drive out of the board.

What was your experience at The Ballito Pro this year?

I’m stoked I won the Monster Energy Expression session for the second year running. My strike-rate and success at landing airs is quite high, so it’s a no-brainer that I surf these expression sessions, and I love surfing for the crowd. Bowing out of the main event was actually a blessing - if you look at the silver lining, I’ve always seen The Ballito Pro from within as a competitor wearing a competitive jersey; but this year looking at it from the outside almost from the crowds perspective was fantastic. 
There is so much happening at The Ballito Pro from the surfing to the day activities, the night time functions and parties. Seeing all the faces on the dance floor last night and hanging out with everyone during the day with the fantastic atmosphere during the day it just makes you excited to go big in those Expression sessions for the crowd and your friends. When you land a big air it’s so close to the beach that you can clearly hear the spectators go wild and cheer. It’s like an amphitheatre. It’s epic. 
Surfing is how I express myself, and those expressions season are perfect for that. The best thing about The Ballito Pro is that it caters for anyone from two years old to eighty years old. There is something down here for everyone. It’s just a great festival for everyone.

Moving forward in 2017, have you got anything up your sleeve?

Looking at the year ahead I want to continue approaching it as I did after my year off last year. I don't want to be overly serious, and I want to enjoy my surfing while having fun. My results come when I’m having fun and enjoying myself. I love socialising and the different characters and cultures this qualifying tour brings together around the world. I don’t think many people fully appreciate and get to know all the different characters and personalities on tour. Together with Monster I’m stoked to be able to enjoy the other aspects of being a professional surfer, so that when I’m not competing I’m still doing other things. 
You can’t take surfing too seriously in my opinion. Have have to play the game and enjoying everything it has to offer. The film project I’m currently working on - ‘Higher Light’ is focused on all of this. The simple enjoyment and love of surfing, both as a professional and as a non-professional. The other day someone cam up to me and asked me why we as surfers always run down to the waters edge. It’s because surfing is a nature high and it only ever gives; never taking away. 
It fuels happiness and stoke and we’re all the better for it. For me it’s not about being the best, its about loving life and why we get up in the morning to surf. It’s about all the little things in the life as a surfer. Traveling, hanging with friends, enjoying the sunset, getting barrelled, catching a fish etc. It’s everything. It’s life. And I’m loving it. There is too much goodness in here not be happy and loving life.