Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay downgraded this year

The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (Event No 5 of 11 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour), has been downgraded from an ASP World Title event to an ASP 6-Star for 2012.

In an official statement at Coolangatta, Queensland  this morning, Billabong said: “The change in event status follows a broader review in which we are seeking to identify cost savings throughout the business. By retaining an event at Jeffreys Bay, it now provides two qualifying events back to back in the South African region.

“The move to an ASP 6-Star also opens the event up to South Africa’s aspiring pro surfers for the first time in 20 years and ensures continuity of the event for the local businesses in Jeffreys Bay.”

The downgrade drops the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour calendar from 11 events to 10, with surfers now counting their best 8 out of 10 results towards their ASP World Title ranking.  It also now means that the Jeffreys Bay event will only be a qualifying event for the World Championship Tour.

“We agreed as a Board that while very regrettable, the commercial realities are such that a pragmatic approach by ASP at this time seemed sensible,” Richard Grellman, ASP Executive Chairman, said. “Billabong have been long-time supporters of professional surfing and still sponsor three of the 10 World Championship Tour events. We look forward to our deep relationship with them continuing.”

The 2012 ASP World Championship Tour will commence this Saturday, February 25, 2012, with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro presented by Land Rover.

Reacting to ASP’s announcement shocked surfers doubted whether the top 34 world surfers would now come to Jeffreys Bay this year. Calling it “a sad day for South Africa”, South African surfers are despairing that that international film crews might not come here this year and there could be less tourists in Jeffreys Bay in July 2012.

One surfer, Joel, summed it up on the ASP website as follows: “One of the best waves in the world relegated to a star comp, Why? Commercialism? Admittedly I don’t know the full story, but it still seems nuts!”

One of the world’s top surfers, Joel Parkinson, was one of the first to comment: “It’s sad, really – we don’t get to have a world tour event at what I think is the best pointbreak in the world,” Parkinson was reported as saying. “But, anyway… times are tough at the moment. I’m sure Billabong will do everything they can to get it back on.”

See later post today:

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