Sun, surf and great waves

2013-06-11 00:00

THIS year’s Mr Price Pro from July 1 to 7 in Ballito, has attracted a record entry, including 18 of the world’s top 32 waveriders.

With entries officially closed, a total of 89 surfers, an increase of almost a third from last year, have been confirmed from around the globe. KwaZulu-Natal’s reputation for sun, surf and great waves has reverberated around the surfing world, with surfers arriving from as far afield as the U.S., Portugal, France, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Tahiti, not forgetting our own homegrown riders.

Heading South Africa and Durban’s challenge is current ASP world No 1 Jordy Smith, winner of the 2010 event. He has a huge following on home soil and will thrive on the support as fans spur him on to bring the title home.

He is joined in the field by world No 19 and fellow Durbanite Travis Logie, a hard-working surfer who, with the bit between his teeth, is capable of upsetting the form book on the day. Surfing in his backyard is also a huge advantage and should bring out the best from him.

Top seed for the event is 2011 Mr Price Pro semi-finalist and ASP world No 12, Australian Julian Wilson. He was Rookie of the Year in 2011 and won his inaugural victory in Portugal last year. He is an exciting talent and should relish the waves Balllito offers.

This year’s ASP Rookie, Brazilian Filipe Toledo, is another to watch. He comes from solid surfing stock as son of former pro Richard Toledo and is recognised as a forerunner of a new wave of Brazilian surfing talent.

Australian Kai Otton, a seven-year tour veteran, could produce the goods if the waves are right. Renowned as an astute barrel rider, Ballito’s hollow waves could provide him with the ideal platform to launch his assault on the title.

Hawaii sends Dusty Payne and Sebastian Zietz to our shores, with the latter enjoying a strong year to date. He is the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion and has jumped up the world rankings. Payne bagged his first victory earlier this year and is gaining in confidence as he mixes it with the world’s best.

Defending Mr Price Pro champion Glen Hall (Australia) returns to defend and besides Smith and Logie, South Africa also has Umhlanga’s Beyrick de Vries, Mossel Bay’s Shaun Joubert and St Francis’s Dale Staples in the draw.

Michael February (CT), David van Zyl (CT) and Chad du Toit (DBN) have been given ASP wildcard entries based on their ASP star rankings at the end of 2012, while Greg Emslie (EL), Steven Sawyer (J-Bay) and Matt Bromley (CT) compete as Mr Price wildcards.

Another two South African spots will go to the top-placed finishers at the Mr Price Pro Ballito trials, in conjunction with the SSA South African Champs on June 28. These trials feature 12 invited regional surfers who cannot get into the event based on their 2012 ASP star ranking.

Besides surfing, the event offers the Mr Price Pro Ballito Beach Festival and free music concerts, featuring 20 bands, from July 4 to 6. An addition this year is the three-day food and wine festival from July 2 to 4.

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