All Systems Go for 2021 Ballito Pro Presented By O'Neill
The Ballito Pro Presented By O’Neill, the world’s longest running professional surfing event, will become the premier event for South Africa and the African continent on the World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA) calendar for 2021, showcasing the best Men, Women and Juniors surfing at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza from 7-18 July 2021.
Within the ambit of the current global pandemic, the 52nd edition of the Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill will be a Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000 rated event. Athletes from all over the African continent are expected to participate including Morocco, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Covid-19 travel restrictions dependent. The 96-strong entry field provides local WSL Africa members with coveted ranking points, in addition to earning well-deserved prize money. This world-class competition will have a notable impact on the QS rankings and presents an opportunity for the top five South Africans to qualify for the Challenger Series campaign in 2022. The Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill will retain its high season and favourable surf conditions within the South African school holiday period of July 2021.
Competitors in the Ballito Women’s Pro pres. By O’Neill QS1,000 will be awarded prize money and points on the WSL Africa regional rankings. Surfers in the U18 Division of the O’Neill SS Smth Shapes Rookie Junior Pro (JQS1,000) will be striving for the prestigious WSL title. These surfers will aim for a strong start to the season as a good result could see them competing in the WSL World Junior Championships at the end of 2021. The U12 to U16 surfers will compete in the event as part of the SA Surf Tour and will earn prize money and ratings points for their efforts.
“As the KwaDukuza Municipality we are very pleased to implement one of our key Tourism Recovery element by supporting the retention of Ballito Pro presented by our partners O’Neill. The adopted 2020 KwaDukuza Socio-Economic Recovery Plan identified the retention of this event in the new normal, as the launching pad for our digital destination marketing strategy focusing in attracting domestic and international tourism. The livestreaming of this event local and international will contribute immensely in reminding and keeping KwaDukuza Tourism Brand in the mind of would be tourist. The KwaDukuza Municipality calls all our private sector partners and our tourism establishments to embraces the 2021 Pro Ballito event which will be delivered strictly in line with the COVID 19 Health and Safety Protocols, whilst ensuring that it remains one of the top 5 KZN prime sports tourism event. We thank our sponsors and partners who continue to provide their support and resources to making this event a successful event for the region and the whole country. We look forward to hosting the prestigious 55th Surfing South Africa Championships for the first time in KwaDukuza and wish welcome all districts to our region for this completion.” – Mayor of KwaDukuza.
“On behalf of O’Neill, we are extremely proud and honoured to be involved in the Ballito Pro again this year. It has been an extremely tough two years for all competitive surfers and I am very excited to see such a prestigious and integral event on the South African Surfing calendar go ahead once again. I would also like to extend a huge thank you to the KwaDukuza Municipality for their continued support of the Ballito Pro and surfing in South Africa.” – Brand Director Paul Canning (Sector Group).
“With the disappointment of no events in 2020 behind us, we are excited to be able to host a world class event like the Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill. South Africa’s young surfers are hungry to make an impact on the QS and a good result at this prestigious event could catapult you into the big league. We look forward to another spectacular event. Our sincere thanks and praise to the KwaDukuza Municipality, the sponsors and all the residents of Ballito for welcoming us back to their wonderful town and magnificent beaches.” – WSL Africa Regional Manager Colin Fitch.
This year will also welcome the South African Surfing Championships, being hosted on the shores of Ballito for the first time in history.
Ninety-six South African men and women representing eight Districts will compete for the prestigious Men’s and Women’s titles and the historic Presidents Cup at the O’Neill Ballito 55th South African Surfing Championships.
The annual competition is the longest running surfing tournament in South Africa and Africa, and one of the longest running National Championships in the world.
First held in 1965 at Kommetjie in Cape Town, the contest attracted a handful of surfers from Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It was won by Natal, with the iconic Durban surfer George Thompson clinching the first of his four National titles.
As surfing in South Africa grew, more surfers and teams participated in the SA Championships, hosted by different venues each year. The event included an Open division for Men and Women, as well as a Junior and Masters Division.
Up until 2001, the KZN team dominated the SA Championship, winning the Presidents Cup 30 times with Western Province winning it on six occasions.
In 2002 Border/Buffalo City won the Presidents Cup for the first time and repeated this feat seven times, and they are the current defending champions.
Since 2002 KZN/eThekweni have won the Presidents Cup five more times with WP/Cape Town and EP/Nelson Mandela Bay each winning it twice. KZN/Ugu have only tasted victory once.
The South African Surfing Championships has been held in Durban, Cape Town, East London, Jeffreys Bay, Seal Point, St Michaels on Sea, Victoria Bay, Mossel Bay, Trafalgar and Richards Bay. 2021 will see this event for the first time on the shores of Ballito, KwaDukuza.
Heather Clark of Ugu Surfriders is the overall individual South African title holder with eight National titles and Greg Emslie of Buffalo City holds the record in the Men’s Division with five National titles.
Most of South Africa’s top surfers have won at least one South African Championship title. The most notable exceptions are 1977 ASP world Champion and five time Gunston 500 winner Shaun Tomson and 1978 ISA World Champion Ant Brodowicz.
This year’s event will feature eight District teams, six men and four women, featuring a total of 96 competitors. These surfers would have competed in a series of trials within their Districts in order to be selected to represent their District at the national level.
The Western Cape Districts are Cape Town Surfriders, Cape Winelands Surfriders and Eden Surfriders. Nelson Mandela Bay Surfriders and Buffalo City Surfriders will represent the Eastern Cape and the KZN Province will feature host district Ilembe Surfriders as well as eThekweni Surfriders and Ugu Surfriders.
“Surfing South Africa is stoked to be associated with the Ballito Pro in the form of our annual South African Surfing Championships. The 55th edition of this iconic event is particularly important as it determines the South African Men and Women’s Champions and decides which District will take home the coveted Presidents Cup. Surfing South Africa is proud that despite the tough year the World and South Africa has endured, we are able to celebrate our 55th National Championship in Ballito for the first time. We are grateful to the KwaDukuza Municipality for putting their faith in us and we are confident that the athletes who have been competing in selection trials in order to be included in their District teams will embrace the opportunity to sample Ballito’s famous surf.” Robin de Kock – General Manager, Surfing South Africa.
The Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill 2021 will continue to host developmental surf contests and invitational showcases, not only celebrating the legacy of the sport, but to create a platform and opportunities for all communities within our region and country as a whole.
The surfing competitions will be supported by a tailor-made festival programme within the Ballito and KwaDukuza region presenting the region’s best experiences and entertainment programme featuring music, arts, recreational activities and hospitality within the beautiful natural environment of the North Coast.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill 2021 event will adhere strictly to related government guidelines and restrictions.
Events: Men – Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill ( WSL – QS5000)
Women – Ballito Pro Pres. By O’Neill ( WSL – QS1000)
Juniors – O’Neill SS Smth Shapes Rookie Rippers Pro Juniors
(WSL – JQS1000 Men and Women)
55th O’Neill Ballito South African Surfing Championships