Internationally rated women’s surfing returns to the shores of South Africa for the first time since 2008 with the announcement that the Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong will be run at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza, just north of Durban, on Sunday 28 June.
This QS1000 rated event offers prize-money totalling R30 000 along with priceless points on both the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) rankings and the WSL Africa regional women’s rankings.
First run in Durban back in 1992 when the event was known as the Gunston 500, the women’s event established a proud tradition over the next 17 years with former winners including World Champions Layne Beachley, fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore and Sofia Mulanovich (Peru).
Run once in Ballito, in 2008 when gigantic waves and inclement conditions forced the cancellation of the event with 32 women still in contention, South Africa’s top female surfers are ecstatic about the return of the Ballito Women’s Pro.
“I’m so excited to be competing in the Ballito Women’s Pro and it’s great for women’s surfing in South Africa to have a Qualifying Series event in our local waves,” said Tanika Hoffman, SA’s highest ranked QS surfer. “The event will be an excellent stepping stone for local up-and-coming girls to get valuable QS experience and points without having to travel too far!”
The organisers and sponsors are also elated to be involved in making top-class women’s surfing available again for both the local competitors and spectators.
“It’s a great privilege to be part of such a prestigious event,” said Vangie Boettger, Women’s Marketing & Team Manager for Billabong SA. “Internationally the standard of women’s surfing is at an all-time high and an event of this calibre will help raise the bar amongst the local South African contingent. We are excited to be part of an awesome team to bring back an International women’s competition to the South African shores.”
Organisers are hoping that the country’s top international competitor Bianca Buitendag (Victoria Bay) will compete in the event. Buitendag, ranked No. 11 after the opening three events on the 2015 WSL Women’s Championship Tour (CT), is currently competing in the Oi Rio Women’s Pro in Brazil.
Willard Beach will also host the Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong on Sunday 28 June, giving up to 32 men the chance to clinch the two coveted trials slots in the elite 96-man field who will contest the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong that starts the next day and runs until Sunday 5 July.
The field for the trials is made up of the next 16 highest placed surfers on the QS rankings who missed the cut for the 94 competitors in the R3 million, QS10000 main event. These 16 will be joined by the 12 highest ranked WSL Africa members plus two Billabong wildcards and two surfers to be selected by Surfing South Africa (SSA).
This gives local surfers an invaluable opportunity to earn rankings points that will enable them to qualify for higher rated events internationally and prize-money to help finance their travel costs. The recipients of the two trials slots are guaranteed a minimum of 550 points plus US $750 (about R9 000) in Round 1 of the main event
While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza by offering the best in beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring an
extreme sports programme, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival and an exciting retail area while 5FM brings some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage.
The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).