Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill to Showcase Festival of Surfing Action in June

The Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill will showcase a festival of surfing action with events featuring all levels of the sport, from the world’s best professionals right through to learn to surf lessons, when it is staged in the mid-winter warmth of the KwaDukuza coastline from June 27 to 7 July.

The 51st edition of the world’s longest running professional surfing event has added an exciting new Pro Junior event and the finals of the provincial schools surfing league to a schedule that again includes 2019’s highly anticipated first WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event for men, a QS1,000 rated event for women and the Ballito Pro Trials where the country’s top surfers compete for a prestigious wildcard into the continent’s highest rated QS event.

The inaugural O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior kicks off the festival program from 27-29 June and is a collaboration between global wetsuit and apparel giant O’Neill and former World Junior Champion and two-time Ballito Pro winner Jordy Smith, who is always keen to support opportunities for the country’s junior surfers.

“I’m really stoked to be promoting my new surfboard brand, SMTH Shapes, at Ballito in June,” said Smith, the current World No. 3. “This is a perfect partnership with my sponsor O’Neill.”

The event enables South Africa’s top 18-and-under men and women to meet, mingle and compete against their international peers. Competitors earn prize-money and rankings points that count towards the prized annual WSL Africa Junior titles and the selection of the regional squad invited to the WSL World Junior Championships in December.

“We’re honoured to have SMTH Shapes come on board with the Pro Junior,” said Paul Canning, O’Neill South Africa Brand Director. “Jordy is such a great ambassador for South African surfing and is always amazing with all the kids, so we welcome this partnership.”

KwaZulu-Natal’s top surfing scholars will get the opportunity to display their talent on the big stage when the top five High School teams in the O’Neill KZN Schools Surfing League contest the final tag team heat that will crown the top surfing school in the province. The league runs from April to June and is always a fiercely contested battle with the favourites this year including defending champions Clifton, Northwood, Westville, Glenwood, Michaelhouse and St Henry’s along with the North Coast’s Ashton and Crawford who will definitely have local knowledge on their side.

“The league is a great platform for any young surfer to get involved in the sport in a fun and team environment and I am very excited to see the final included in this year’s festival,” said Canning

For the eleventh consecutive year the KwaDukuza Municipality have embraced the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill which offers 10,000 points to the winner, the highest points haul available for men on the QS leaderboard.

The 112-man entry for the event traditionally includes at least a dozen of the world’s elite surfers who compete on the WSL Championship Tour (CT) along with the highest ranked QS surfers fighting for the right to qualify for the top tier.

The prestigious event also provides the best of the local WSL Africa members with invaluable experience competing against the world’s top professionals and the opportunity to earn plenty of coveted rankings points which assist them in gaining entry to the higher rated events internationally.

The locals will include the WSL Africa champion Adin Masencamp (Strand) plus those who finished in the Top 100 on the 2018 year end QS rankings, six wildcards chosen by the WSL, the Africa regional office and the event, and the winner of the Ballito Pro Trials to be held on Sunday 30 June.

The women’s event will again feature a mix of international and local competitors with the South Africans bidding to become the 22nd champion and to join 2015 winner Nikita Robb (East London) as the only home grown women’s champions. The men’s and women’s events run in parallel from Monday to Sunday, 1-7 July.

Alongside the surfing, visitors will be spoiled for choice with non-stop activities providing even more entertainment throughout the Ballito festival site. South Africa’s hottest musical acts appealing to all tastes – rock, pop, hip hop, kwaito, electro and dance – will be performing live on Salt Rock Beach over the last weekend. Beach and extreme sports, culinary contests as well as quality retail and food stalls will captivate visitors to this coastal holiday highlight.