By Bev Mortimer: Defending champion Jordy Smith of Durban reckons he will take the Billabong Pro J-Bay again this week.
Looking relaxed after his participation in the ASP Pro Ballito that ended on Sunday, Smith was jovial and made fun remarks. He told St Francis Chronicle at last night’s media event, he was excited to be here and looked forward to the contest.
The 6-star Billabong Pro ASP World Qualifying Tournament begins today, 10 July, and runs to 15 July. 144 of the world’s best surfers, including legendary 1999 ASP World champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) and Adrian De Souza (BRA), will be competing in the $155,000US tournament.
Last night the pre-event media function took place at Billabong’s H/O in Da Gama Stree ,JeffreysBay. A big crowd of media, surfing personalities, some Kouga councillors and the provincial director of Sport were there to meet some of the top names in the surfing world.
To welcome everyone, the African Drumbeat dancers fromPort Elizabeth, guided and directed by Ruth Mackintosh fromPort Elizabethput on a stupendous display of African dancing. Some of the international contingent were truly open mouthed. And some were even roped into joining into the dancing.
Then the media were taken upstairs to have photographic and questions and answer session with the international surfers present: John John Florence from Hawai, and South Africans Mikey February and Sean Holmes.
Also at this session were “JJ” Billabong International Media manager, Luke Egan of Australia, Contest director and former World Tour campaigner; Bafundi Makabalo, EC provincial director of sport; Tourism portfolio councillor, Virginia Camealio-Benjamin; and Lloyd Cornwall of St Francis Bay who is promoting the Radio 5 FM Music contest running nightly at Mentorskraal during the Billabong J-Bay.
It was also learned last night that Royden Bryson is out of the Billabong Pro J-Bay after breaking his leg during a practise session yesterday afternoon at Supertubes. He was dumped by a wave and compressed to his board. He managed with extreme difficulty, and in severe pain, o get to shore from where he was taken to hospital.
Some top names in attendance at this years Billabong Pro J-Bay
South Africans surf lovers attending this year’s Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay get to see legendary 1999 ASP World champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) in action.
He was the winner of the inaugural ASP event atJeffreysBayback in 1984 and is making a determined effort to re-qualify for elite WCT status at the ripe old age of 46.
Owing to the downgrading of the Billabong Pro J-Bay to a 6-Star rated ASP World Tour event not all of the world’s top 34 surfers will compete inJeffresysBay– for the first time since 1997.
Seventeen of those on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) joined South African elite tour members Jordy Smith and Travis Logie for the Prime rated Mr Price Pro Ballito .While SA’s current crop of ASP World Tour campaigners are all entered in both events around 11 surfers of the 17 international stars could well be at JBay’s’event.
Adriano de Souza (BRA), ranked No. 4 on the WCT, will be the top seed in both South African events and other highly ranked international contenders include the Hobgood brothers – 2001 ASP World champion CJ and his equally talented twin Damien. Surfers of the ilk of fifth-ranked John John Florence, fourth-WCT ranked Adriano de Souza, and Pat Gudauskas are also expected to put in an appearance.
Smith is the second seed and will be atJeffreysBayagain this year. Other South Africans participating include our local Dale Staples from St Francis Bay and the likes of Royden Bryson (Cape Town), Shaun Joubert (MosselBay), Brandon Jackson (Durban North), and Rudy Palmboom (Bluff).
TheBillabongProJeffreysBay, listed on the ASP calendar as an ASP Men’s Event, carries a US $155 000 prize-purse and the winner earns 3 500 points on the rankings list.
The event has a maximum field of 144 surfers. Owing to oversubscribed entries there have been a number of competitors waiting on the side for possible injuries and cancellations in order to get a spot into the event. Two such surfers are South African U20 Champion Mikey February from Kommetjie and Open Men’s Champion Casey Grant from Scottburgh. Both have subsequently been awarded entries into this event.
The current U20 and Open Men’s South African champions have also been entered int the Billabong Pro JBay
The wildcard names are to be announced shortly. They will consist of two Billabong wildcards, two ASPAfricawildcards, and one each from the local clubs J-Bay Boardriders and JBU.
Billabong Pro J-Bay event co-sponsors include: Monster Energy, Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Carling Black Label, Sony Xperia, Nissan, Vida e Caffe, VonZipper and Nixon.
In conjunction with the Billabong Pro J-Bay there will also be the 5FM Music Festival driven by Nissan Juke on the weekend of 13 – 15 July.
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