The Billabong Junior Series launches a 12-day festival of world class surfing when it gets underway at Willard Beach in Ballito next week with the country’s best surfers aged 18-and-under going all out to earn coveted titles along with prize-money and rankings points.

 The world’s longest running junior surfing series, now in its 18th year, has nurtured the competitive careers of countless local surfers including current World No. 10 Jordy Smith, WSL Women’s No. 7 Bianca Buitendag and former WSL Championship Tour campaigners Travis Logie, Royden Bryson, Ricky Basnett, Rosy Hodge and Nikita Robb.

 Scheduled for Wednesday to Saturday, 22-25 June, the Billabong Junior Series features World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 rated events for U18 boys and girls, as well as 3A rated Surfing South Africa (SSA) Pro Surf Tour (PST) events for U16 and U14 boys and girls as well as U12 boys.

 Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay) heads a strong 24-man field of entries for the U18 boy’s event where the points earned count towards the 2016 Billabong Junior Series and WSL Africa Junior titles as well as selection for the squad who will attend the WSL World Junior Championships at the end of the year.

Maree faces tough opposition in Kommetjie based brothers, Jake and Max Elkington, Adin Masencamp (Strand), Salt Rock local Shane Sykes, Calvin Goor (Durban) and Jeffreys Bay’s Joshe Faulkner and Sebastian Williams.

Locals Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) and Teal Hogg (Umhlanga) will be using their experience in the Willard Beach waves to stave off the challenges of Chrystal Hulett (St Francis Bay), Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay) and Taghiti Gericke (Southern Cape) for the U18 girls’ title.

Dillon Hendricks (Muizenberg) and Sophie Bell (Salt Rock) head the PST rankings for the U16 boys and girls respectively, while Kommetjie’s Travis Pearce and Summer Sutton head the U14 standings and Christian Venter is top seed for the U12 boys.

The top two finishers in the U18 boys’ event will be awarded prestigious wildcards into the SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong on Sunday 26 June at the same venue. The all-South African 32-man trials event will determine the last remaining spot in the R4 million, QS10,000 rated Ballito Pro presented by Billabong.

The first round of the R20 000, QS1,000 rated Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong will also be run on the Sunday, and this event will continue alongside the men’s event from Monday to Sunday, June 27 to 3 July.

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 sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring the ‘Fire up your stoke: Night of food & wine’, an extreme sports programme and an exciting retail area, while the Five Star Ballito Pro Free Music Concerts powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.

The Billabong Junior Series Ballito is proudly supported by BOS, Neff, Skullcandy, VonZipper, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, KwaDukuza Municipality, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).