Strong wave rider field set to tackle The Ballito Pro – #LiveTheLegacy

Preparation is on track for the world’s longest running professional surfing competition, The Ballito Pro. In fine form are Janek Ferande and Sarah Baum from Ballito. PHOTO: Ryan Janssens/ The Ballito Pro

Ballito Pro Festival 2018

This year marks the 50th edition of the elite surfing contest, The Ballito Pro, presented by Billabong, and KwaDukuza is gearing up for a programme of non-stop entertainment to celebrate this milestone event from 21 June to 1 July.

Themed #LiveTheLegacy, the world’s longest running professional surfing competition will commemorate this historic occasion with fun beachside activities, festive cooking contests, quality retail offerings and some special proceedings to honour the event’s roots.

The Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong, the world’s longest running professional surfing event, has attracted a stellar field of the world’s top surfers to Willard Beach in Ballito from 3 to 9 July.

The Ballito Pro is the place to be during the mid-term holidays. PHOTO: Ryan Janssens/ The Ballito Pro

 

The first World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event of the year will showcase the talents of more than half of the world’s elite Top 34 ranked surfers on the Championship Tour (CT).

The balance of the 112 man field features all of the top 32 on the QS rankings, including current rankings leader Alejo Muniz (BRA) who will be gunning for a second Ballito Pro title to add to his 2015 crown.

Defending event winner, Durban’s own Jordy Smith, is in great form after charging into the Top 10 on the CT leaderboard with back-to-back third and fifth place finishes in the recent events in Bali.

Smith loves competing in front of his legions of hometown fans and is determined to become the first three-time winner of the event since fellow Durbanite Shaun Tomson won an unsurpassed six consecutive titles from 1973 to 1978.

Other internationally renowned CT stars include former winners Connor O’Leary (AUS) and Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Frenchmen Jeremy Flores and Joan Duru, Brazilians Yago Dora and Michael Rodrigues, Kanoa Igarashi who now represents Japan, and exciting rookie Griffin Colapinto (USA).

 

Jordy Smith celebrates his victory in the 2017Ballito Pro presented by Billabong with Cllr Ricardo Mthembu, the Mayor of Kwadukuza Photo: WSL / Cestari

 

South Africa’s contingent includes Michael February, who became the first local to join Jordy Smith in the CT ranks after his fairytale run to the semi-finals in Ballito last year, uMhlanga local Beyrick de Vries and current WSL Africa rankings leader David van Zyl (Glenashley).

Another two locals will receive wildcards based on their Qualifying Series rankings after the QS1,000 rated Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill this coming weekend.

And the wildcard formerly awarded to the winner of the Ballito Trials will be allocated to the highest placed local on the WSL Africa QS rankings who has not already qualified.

QS No. 10 Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) is currently the highest ranked South African and a certainty for one of the wildcards, while the other two coveted spots will be determined in a see-saw battle between the likes of Capetonians Adin Masencamp and Jordy Maree, Shane Sykes (Salt Rock) and Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay).

This is one of the strongest fields for the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong that I’ve seen since it moved to Ballito in 2009,” said WSL Africa Operations Manager Colin Fitch. “The 50th anniversary event has created huge anticipation and there has been a really positive build up with five WSL events already held all over the coastline this year.”

 

Angelo Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay) was a favourite for the U18 boy’s event last year in the Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel at Ballito this week. PHOTO: WSL / Thurtell

 

The Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong is the highlight event in the Ballito Pro Surf Festival, a 10-day celebration of beach culture that includes the 21st edition of the Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) Billabong Junior Series pres. by BOS from June 22-24 and the QS1,000 Ballito Women’s Pro pres. by Billabong that runs in conjunction with the Men’s QS10,000 event.

International surfing legend Shaun Tomson, the1977 World Surfing Champion and now a globally acclaimed motivational speaker, author and film-maker, will headline the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Tomson will conduct a Positive Wave Tour driven by SMG Rocks that visits schools in KwaDukuza in the lead up to and during the event and culminates in 67 minutes of service at a selected school on July 18, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

 

The Ballito Pro, presented by Billabong has many festival events and activities planned to entertain the whole the family. PHOTO: Submitted

 

 

The Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, Capitec Bank, Casio G-Shock, Ballito Junction Regional Mall, Coco Der Mer, 5FM, SMG Rocks, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Michelle Dennis
Editor

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