Ballito Pro to get underway in unfamiliar December period after Covid-19 delay

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The Ballito Pro will be held from 9-19 December. (Photo by: @TheBallitoPro/Twitter)
The Ballito Pro will be held from 9-19 December. (Photo by: @TheBallitoPro/Twitter)

The world's longest-running professional surfing event, The Ballito Pro, will take place over the festive period for the first time in its 52-year history.

The famous surfing event, which was postponed from its traditional July date, will be held at Willard Beach in KwaDukuza from 9-19 December.

It will host and showcase some of the best men, women and junior surfing on the World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA) rosters.

Those on the shores of the 52nd edition of the event will witness waves of surfing contests from the QS5 000 Men's and QS1 000 Women's qualifying series, the 55th South African Surfing Championship, to the SSA/Ilembe surf riders development surf contest, plus many more.

Over the 10-day surfing marathon, spectators can expect to see the likes of world-renowned local, Jordy Smith, a two-time men's champion, along with the women's 2019 winner and defending champion, Sarah Baum.

The events

Within this year's edition, the Ballito Pro will host multiple events under its name. The competition will begin by launching itself into the 55th South African Surfing Championships, an event making its debut on the Ballito shores. 

Between 9-11 December, South African surfers from across the country will be taking part in the 55th championships and will compete for the sought after Presidents Cup.

"The 55th edition of this iconic event is particularly important as it determines the South African Men and Women's Champions and decides which district will take home the coveted Presidents Cup," said Robin de Kock, the general manager of SSA.

On 11 December, the event will also host the SSA/iLembe Surf Siders Development surf contest, which will both celebrate the legacy of the sport and also "create a platform and opportunities for all communities within our region and country as a whole", according to the event's website.

Following the U18 O'Neil SS Smth Shapes Rookie Junior Pro (JQS1 000) from 12-14 December, the two events that all surf fans have been anticipating, the WSL Men's QS5000 and the Women's QS1000, will begin.

From 15 December to the final day on 19 December, athletes scattered all over the African continent will be looking to gather valuable ranking points along with the winner's prize money.

The competition is said to have a "notable impact on the QS rankings and presents an opportunity for the top five South Africans to qualify for the Challenger Series campaign in 2022", the website reads.

A barreling pandemic

With the Ballito Rage festival recently cancelled due to the Omicron variant spearheading a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, questions have been raised about the continuation of the surf festival. 

Combating another postponement or potential cancellation, the Ballito Pro has implemented strict Covid-19 protocols and programmes to protect contestants and spectators.

"In planning for The Ballito Pro, our Covid-19 safety programme has taken into account the potential of a fourth wave, as well as the restrictions for higher lockdown levels," explained the event organiser, Collette Bundy. 

"The safety of festival-goers and competitors is a priority and everything is being done to minimise the risk of transmission at the event. We will constantly monitor the situation and adhere to changing regulations as they arise."

On arrival, vaccinated athletes, staff and officials will be required to present full vaccination cards. Whereas those unvaccinated must present proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PRC) test within 72 hours, or alternatively a negative antigen test within 48 hours, according to the website.

Furthermore, the competition has combined with IPSS Medical, We Thrive, and the Department of Health, by installing designated testing sites and the event entrance. 

Those attending the event can book via the Thrive website for vaccination instore at Thrive Ballito from 13:00 to 17:00. Alternatively, vaccinations at the Ballito Pro's vaccination stand will be administered by the Thrive and Department of Health's nurses. 

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