The new 6-star Billabong event will run in 2nd week of July

This year’s 6-Star Billabong Pro J -Bay will run in the second week of July, immediately after the Prime rated event in Ballito and offers a prize-purse of US $155 000 (approx. R1.2 million) with the winner pocketing close to R200 000 and a significant 3 500 rankings points.

This was announced by Billabong today following the shock morning news that the annual Billabong Pro J-Bay will change its status for 2012 from an ASP World Tour event to a 6-Star rated tournament.

The ASP 6- Star category will provide South Africa’s top surfers with the opportunity to compete at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay for the first time since 1998, Billabong maintained in a statement that observers believe is “an attempt to soften this morning’s blow”.

Shocked surfers in South Africa and elsewhere in the world commented on websites throughout the morning. They have expressed dismay while also predicting that the downgrading means many of the world’s top surfers will give JBay a miss this year. They believe JBay has now been relegated to being only a qualifying venue and not an international surfing competition venue. Commentators also feel this will lead to less international TV and film crews descending on Supertubes this July and less tourists visiting JBay.

SA surfers can earn many ASP ranking points and much prize-money in their home waters, Billabong maintains. Plus the proximity of the two events could still attract the world’s best surfers to South African shores in July, Billabong believes.

“A change in the qualifying criteria for the 2013 ASP World Tour, which now restricts the top surfers to only including three World Tour results among their eight counting scores in the ASP World Rankings, means everyone needs to compete in Prime and Star rated events to ensure they are in contention to qualify for next year’s top flight.”

Billabong believes while some of the world’s superstars may miss the South African leg, South Africa’s Jordy Smith could wish to complete a hat trick of victories in the event. Billabong team riders Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow, both previous J-Bay champions, could also be keen to rack up another victory there.

Billabong believes the major advantage that the change of status provides for South African surfing comes in the increase in numbers of local participants.  “A 6-Star rated event could have a larger field than the 36 the ASP World Tour format allows. This could enable local surfers to compete against the world’s top exponents in the country’s best waves.”

Billabong also says this could provide aspiring South African stars such as Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay),  already standouts at Supertubes, with the opportunity to impress while earning points and prize-money in familiar surroundings.

See earlier post: