World’s best doing battle in Ballito

2010-07-03 00:00

BALLITO — As support for international sport reaches fever pitch this month, South African fans will have even more to cheer about as the country’s finest surfers do battle at the R1 million Mr Price Pro Ballito.

While football fans populate the stands of some of the finest stadiums around the country during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, surf fans will take up every inch of Ballito’s white, sandy beaches to cheer on their favourite surfers at the 5 Star Mr Price Pro Ballito, from July 2 to 11.

South African flags will be flying high as the event’s top seed and current World No. 2, Durban’s Jordy Smith, carves his way through a talented field in the hope of not only earning himself the only ASP World Star title in his home town, but also the unique opportunity to attend two international sporting finals in one day.

Both Smith and World No. 23, Travis Logie of Durban, who had one of the most consistent finishes at the Mr Price Pro Ballito, placing second, third and fourth in previous years, have secured tickets to the Fifa World Cup final. Whoever wins the Mr Price Pro Ballito on July 11 will be travelling to Soccer City in Johannesburg R122 500 richer.

Smith and Logie can expect stiff competition from the likes of No. 2 seed and former Mr Price Pro champion Taylor Knox (USA) . The current World No. 16 has enjoyed exceptional longevity as a professional surfer and at the age of 38 brings a wealth of competitive experience to the surf.

Greg Emslie (33) of East London is another firm favourite for this year’s crown, and like Knox his extensive experience as a top-tier competitor is set to make him a feared rival. Emslie has yet to win this sponsored event and, with his recent retirement from the professional circuit, he has a fiery determination to take this year’s crown.

Former ASP World Tour campaigner David Weare (Durban) will have home advantage on his side. Raking up hours of water time along the Dolphin Coast prior to the event’s start is bound to give this lightning- fast surfer the edge over many of the out-of-town surfers.

Royden Bryson (East London), Brandon Jackson (Durban North), Rudy Palmboom (Bluff), Ricky Basnett (Bluff) and Antonio Bortoletto (Durban) are similarly experienced campaigners who could pose a threat to top-tier surfers next week.

The Mr Price Pro Ballito kicked off yesterday with the 6A Surfing South Africa Mr Price Pro junior and women’s events.

Both divisions are the biggest SSA events in the country and culminate in the finals at midday tomorrow.

The 5 Star Mr Price Pro men’s division will follow from Monday to July 11.

ISA world junior finalist Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) is expected to be hard to beat in the waves just north of his home break, but can expect some stiff competition from the Kommetjie “Awesome Foursome” of Davey Brand, Matthew Bromley, Michael February and Brendan Gibbens in the Pro Junior.

Pressure will be felt in the women’s division as surfers compete for the inaugural Mr Price Pro Ballito title after dangerous surf forced organisers to call the event off prior to determining a winner in 2009.

Multiple national champion and former World No. 2 Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) will face the likes of multiple times Western Province champion Stacey Guy (Cape Town) and national junior team members Chantelle Rautenbach (Cape Town), Tarryn Chudleigh (Cape Town) and Bianca Buitendag (George).

Sponsors of the Island Tribe Expression Session have generously thrown an extra R21 000 into the prize-money pot, offering surfers the chance to “go ballistic” in Ballito. The biggest and most radical manoeuvres will earn three winning surfers R7 000 each.

While spectators are kept glued to their seats with the surfing action by day, music fans will be kept rocking on their feet by night at the Mr Price Pro Ballito free music concerts that take place at Salt Rock on July 9 to 10.

The Ballito Beach Festivial will also run throughout the 10-day event with activities such as BMX displays, beach volleyball and beach soccer to name a few.

Tune in to East Coast Radio for live updates on the Mr Price Pro if you can’t make it down to the beach, or you can watch all the action live at www.mrpricepro.com — Supplied.

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