7 March, 2012 7 March, 2012

Change of status for Billabong Pro J-Bay provides huge opportunities for South African surfers

Billabong Pro J-Bay
6-Star rated ASP event
Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Second week July, 2012

Today’s announcement that the Billabong Pro J-Bay will change its status for 2012 from an ASP World Tour event to a 6-Star rated tournament, the highest ranking in the ASP Star category, provides scores of South Africa’s top surfers with the opportunity to compete at the iconic surf break of Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay for the first time since 1998 and to earn heaps of ASP ranking points and prize-money in their home waters.

In its official statement today, Billabong said: “The change in event status follows a broader review in which we are seeking to identify cost savings throughout the business. By retaining an event at Jeffreys Bay, it now provides two qualifying events back to back in the South African region. The move to an ASP 6-Star also opens the event up to South Africa’s aspiring pro surfers for the first time in nearly 15 years and ensures continuity of the event for the local businesses in Jeffreys Bay.”

While the ASP is understandably disappointed that the 2012 ASP World Tour will now be decided over 10 instead of 11 events, they are supportive of Billabong’s decision.

“We agreed as a Board that whilst very regrettable, the commercial realities are such that a pragmatic approach by ASP at this time seemed sensible,” Richard Grellman, ASP Executive Chairman, said. “Billabong have been long-time supporters of professional surfing and still sponsor three of the ten World Championship Tour events and we look forward to our deep relationship with them continuing.”

The 6-Star Billabong Pro J-Bay will be run in the second week of July, immediately after the Prime rated event in Ballito, and offers a prize-purse of US $155 000 (approx. R1.2 million) with the winner pocketing close to R200 000 and a significant 3 500 rankings points.

The proximity of the two events will attract the world’s best surfers to South African shores in July and the opportunity to ride the legendary waves at Supertubes along with just a couple of other competitors in the line-up will be a major drawcard.

A change in the qualifying criteria for the 2013 ASP World Tour, which now restricts the top surfers to only including three World Tour results amongst their eight counting scores in the ASP World Rankings, means that everyone needs to compete in Prime and Star rated events to ensure that they are in contention to qualify for next year’s top flight.

While a couple of the world’s superstars may elect to miss the South African leg, South Africa’s own Jordy Smith will be determined to complete a hat trick of victories in the event and Billabong team riders Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow, both previous J-Bay champions, will be keen to rack up another victory there

Add the exciting and exceptionally talented crop of rising stars like two-time ASP World Tour event winner Gabriel Medina (BRA), recently crowned ASP Rookie of the Year Julian Wilson (AUS), Hawaiian tube-riding phenom John John Florence and teenage Californian standout Kolohe Andino and the hordes of spectators who descend on Jeffreys Bay every year will still be treated to a festival of world-class surfing performances.

However the major advantage that the change of status provides for South African surfing comes in the increase in numbers of local participants. A 6-Star rated event can have a larger field than the 36 the ASP World Tour format allows, enabling literally dozens of local surfers to compete against the world’s top exponents in the country’s best waves.

This provides aspiring South African stars such as Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay), both already standouts at Supertubes, with the opportunity to impress while earning points and prize-money in familiar surroundings. Meanwhile scores of South Africa’s budding contest surfers and the many local surfers based in Jeffreys Bay will be able to compete against, and meet and mingle with, their heroes while being exposed to the latest manoeuvres and cutting edge equipment.

The world renowned waves of Supertubes and the attendance of the world’s most exciting surf stars will continue to draw the attention of the world’s media to Jeffreys Bay and the increased number of competitors, and their entourages, will ensure that accommodation and businesses in the town will be operating at full capacity during the contest period.

All in all, the 2012 Billabong Pro J-Bay promises to be an event to remember.

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