12 May 2014
Entries are pouring in from around the globe for South Africa’s Mr Price Pro Ballito, which takes place on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast from 30 June to 6 July. By the weekend, 68 of the top 96 surfers in the world had confirmed their entries for the ASP Qualifying Series (QS) event.
The Mr Price Pro carries a prize purse of R2.7-million and 11 of the world’s top 34 surfers have already signed up for it.
World number nine Miguel Pupo of Brazil is the highest ranked competitor entered so far. Renowned for his lightning-fast, above-the-lip prowess, Pupo is a proven performer with three major QS victories under his belt.
South Africa’s Jordy Smith weighs in as the second highest ranked surfer, one place below Pupo in the standings. A former Mr Price Pro Ballito champion (2010), Smith has three World Championship Tour (WCT) and six QS victories to his name and is a firm favourite in Ballito.
Joining them are 2001 world champion and tour veteran CJ Hobgood (USA), as well as WCT stalwarts world number 18 Adam Melling (Aus), world number 33 Alejo Muniz (Bra) and two of the tour’s best back-handers, world number 21 Adrian Buchan (Aus) and world number 26 Matt Wilkinson (Aus).
Triple Crown of Surfing champ
On-again off-again WCT campaigners, world number 21 Jadson Andre (Bra) and world number 26 Aritz Aranburu (Esp) will have extensive experience surfing the QS four- man heat format on their side, while 2012 Triple Crown of Surfing champion Sebastian Zietz (Haw) will surf with the confidence of being a proven performer in everything from three to 10 foot (one – three metre) surf.
Current world number two on the WQS ratings, Australian Matt Banting, leads the field as the highest ranked QS surfer. Banting has won one six-star event on the QS this season, taking down veteran Nathan Hedge (Aus) with a pair of near perfect scores in Australia earlier this year.
Hedge comes in as the second highest rated surfer with a win at a one-star event and a second place at the six-star in Australia this season.
Thomas Hermes (Bra) and former Mr Price Pro champion Patrick Gudauskas (USA) are other top-10 ranked QS competitors expected to excel in the powerful waves of Ballito.
Entries will remain open until 3 June when the organisers expect all 90 places to be filled.
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) will award three wildcards to the highest ranked non-qualifying surfers in the region, while Mr Price will select two surfers of their choice. The sixth wildcard will go to the winner of the trials held prior to commencement of competition on 30 June, thus completing the 96-man field.
Renowned as one of the biggest beach festivals on the African continent, the Mr Price Pro Ballito is expecting approximately 100 000 fans to soak up the non-stop entertainment over the seven days.
While the surfers ride the ocean waves by day, spectators will once again be rocked by sound waves at night when Mr Price and the KwaDukuza Municipality present free music concerts at Salt Rock on 3 and 4 July.
Thursday, 3 July 3, sees a night of Kwaito, Afro-pop, hip-hop and house, while Friday, 4 July, caters to more of a pop, rock and dance themed audience.
On 1 and 2, the event will also incorporate a Food and Wine festival, bringing mouth- watering flavours to the beach and building on the lifestyle event that proved to be so successful last year.
The RedCap Foundation has been selected as the event’s Corporate Social Investment program as RedCap has been actively involved in the region since 2010 with their health and education programmes impacting low-income communities in KwaDukuza.