Surfing’s elite performers will return to KwaDukuza for a seventh successive year when the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, a QS10,000 rated event on the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS), runs from 29 June to 5 July.
The third of nine events that carry the highest ranking on this year’s QS, the Ballito Pro offers a US $250 000 (approx. R3 million) prize-purse and an invaluable 10 000 points on the world rankings. It will feature a 96-man field of the world’s best surfers from every corner of the planet, all of whom are striving to qualify for a spot on next year’s WSL Championship Tour (CT).
“As the host and Licence holder of the Ballito Pro event, we as KwaDukuza are very pleased to take the event forward together with the World Surf League and our new partners,” said the Mayor of KwaDukuza, Cllr Ricardo Mthembu. “The Ballito Pro International Surf Festival event is a key economic and tourism driver for our region, and together with the communities of KwaDukuza we look forward to expediting yet another successful event come 28th June.”
Continuing the legacy of being the world’s longest running professional surfing event worldwide that started 46 years ago when Port Elizabeth teenager Gavin Rudolph won the Gunston 500 back in 1969, all aspects of the Ballito Pro will be bigger and better this year with the support of global apparel and equipment giant Billabong who have come onboard as presenting sponsor for the main event and the trials.
“Billabong is really excited to be the presenting sponsor of the 2015 Ballito Pro, said Billabong SA Group Marketing Manager, Chad D’Arcy. “It is such an iconic event and an integral part of the history of competitive surfing in South Africa. We’re looking forward to being part of another world class event on African shores.”
With more than a month to go until entries close, the entry list already includes a dozen CT surfers headed by current world No. 9, Jordy Smith, the 2010 event winner and 2013 runner-up, who is always happy to compete in his home surf, along with another 40 highly rated competitors from 15 countries.
“I’m super excited to come back home and compete,” said Jordy from his home in California. “It’s my favourite time of year in KZN, so hopefully we get great waves!”
The event provides the local WSL Africa registered surfers with the priceless opportunity to earn prize-money and highly coveted rankings points in their home surf.
“It’s fantastic for South African surfing, KwaDukuza, Ballito and the WSL that we are able to host the biggest WSL QS event at this superb venue for the seventh year in a row,” said WSL Africa Operations Manager, Colin Fitch. “Ballito has become a truly world class surfing destination and I look forward to seeing 96 of the world’s best surfers put on an spectacular display of high performance surfing in Africa again this year.”
While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza offering the best in beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with an action packed programme planned for the week-long festival that includes: daily doses of beach soccer and volleyball, regular stage performances by local dancers, singers and performers and an exciting retail area.
In addition to this, the extreme sports programme is guaranteed to thrill with Freestyle Motocross displays by Monster Le Riche brothers; a Monster Surf Expression Session powered by Zig Zag and a Monster Beach Surf Movie Night. Crowd favourite, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival, returns to La Montagne for a ‘flavoursome’ few nights, playing host to the artisan food market, a wine and coffee showcase and the return of the popular cooking competitions.
Music lovers won’t be disappointed either with 5FM taking over the music reigns, bringing some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage with Crush Night Club after-parties continuing the celebrations late into the night.