22 February 2012
The Mr Price Pro Ballito will host the world’s finest surfers in the wave-rich South African holiday town through 2014, thanks to a three-year deal inked between KwaDukuza municipality and world surfing’s governing body, ASP International.
Since its move from Durban, the R1.9-million ASP Prime event has grown from strength to strength at its Ballito home about 40 kilometres north of Durban, and proved a popular venue with both surfers and spectators thanks to the unprecedented surf enjoyed during the event’s window over the past three years.
“ASP Africa is both honored and proud to be associated with an event like the Mr Price Pro Ballito,” ASP Africa operations manager Colin Fitch said.
“Based on the fact that we had more than seven days of perfect surf that was never under three metres in 2011, I am convinced that we will see many more of the world’s top surfers fighting for a place in this year’s 96 man field.”
2011 ASP World Tour rookie and Mr Price Pro Ballito runner-up John John Florence secured the first official entry. The Hawaiian standout performer is hoping he can return home with the spoils in 2012 after his barrel riding ability resulted in a number of perfect scores last year.
“I really enjoyed the waves in Ballito,” Florence said. “They’re a lot like the barrels at Backdoor (the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii). It’s big and round and maybe a little bit faster and longer, but I felt really comfortable in that kind of surf, so I’m really looking forward to surfing in Ballito again.”
Defending champion, Californinan Patrick Gudauskas, shared similar sentiments after his victory last year. “This is definitely the best event I’ve ever competed in,” he said, “and maybe the best one I’ve ever watched. It has been flawless for a whole week and we’re all psyched to be surfing in Ballito.”
With a number of refinements to the ASP Prime Tour in 2012, the event could prove critical for surfers hoping to cement their place among the world’s top 34 surfers in 2013.
Scheduled at the season’s critical halfway mark, the increase in available equal ninth-place finishes (from four to eight), as well as ratings points (1 034 to 1 300 for an equal 17th and 3 120 to 3 320 for equal fifth), will give surfers more opportunity to climb the ASP One World rankings ladder.
The top 96 surfers in the world
Featuring only the top 96 surfers in the world, South African competitors must be rated within the top 96 in order to earn their place in the prestigious event.
Leading the local field are elite ASP World Tour campaigners Jordy Smith, the 2010 Mr Price Pro Ballito Champion, and Travis Logie, who finished runner-up to Australian Chris Davidson in the 2009 edition of the event.
ASP Tour veteran and multiple national champion Greg Emslie from East London leads the way for the six wildcard entries yet to be announced.
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