South Africa’s own Jordy Smith headlines a world-class field for Ballito Pro presented by Billabong which runs from Monday 27 June to Sunday 3 July at Willard Beach in Ballito.
The first World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series QS10,000 rated event to be staged in 2016, the Ballito Pro has attracted entries from a dozen of the elite top 34 ranked surfers on the WSL Championship Tour (CT), along with another 100 international and local competitors who will be vying for a share of the R4 million prize-purse and the maximum rankings points for a QS event.
Smith, the current world No. 10, the 2010 Ballito champion and 2013 runner-up, is determined to give his South African fans plenty to cheer about this year after an injury affected first round exit from his only QS appearance in home surf last year.
“The Ballito Pro is a great event and my win in 2010 is a really special memory,’ said Smith who has been competing in the world’s longest running professional surfing event since 2003. “I always want to win so badly in front of everyone at home and the support is always so crazy that I try extra hard.”
The top 10 seeds for the 48th edition of the event that started out as the Durban 500 in 1969 include Brazilians Caio Ibelli, Miguel Pupo, Jadson Andre and defending event winner Alejo Muniz; Australians Davey Cathels, Jack Freestone and Matt Banting; Californian Kanoa Igarashi and Jeremy Flores of Reunion Island.
Other internationals to watch out for include former event winners Tim Reyes (USA), American brothers Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, current QS rankings leader Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and world No. 6 Sebastian Zietz (HAW).
Alongside Smith, the South African challenge for the title will come from Beyrick de Vries from nearby uMhlanga, who is the 53rd seed; Michael February (Kommetjie), the highest QS ranked local, who is nursing an ankle injury; and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay). Jeffreys Bay residents Dylan Lightfoot and Matt McGillivray have been awarded the wildcards that go to the country’s two highest ranked QS surfers who do not automatically qualify for the event.
The final slot in the main event goes to the winner of the all South African, 32-man SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong, which is being run today (Sunday) at Willard Beach.
The QS1,000 rated Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong starts today and will run in conjunction with the men’s 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 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 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).