The Billabong Pro Junior, which got underway in one metre waves at Cape St Francis earlier today, will decide which of the country’s top 20-and-under surfers qualify for the ASP World Junior Surfing Championships to be held in Bali at the beginning of October.
Comprising ASP One-Star rated contests for men and women, the Billabong Pro Junior runs from Friday until Sunday (31 August – 2 September) and offers US $5 000 (approx. R42 000) in prize-money with $2 000 plus 250 ranking points going to the winner of the men’s event and the women’s winner receiving $1 000 of the total $2 000 prize-purse.
Slade Prestwich (Scottburgh) leads the men’s rankings after winning the first event in the ASP Africa Pro Junior Series in April. Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) is second with David van Zyl (Glenashley) and Michael February (Kommetjie) equal third and Remi Peterson, Jarred Veldhuis, Regard Smit and Davey Brand are equal fifth in the standings.
The coveted invitations to the ASP World Junior Championships go to the top two ASP Africa members on the ASP World Rankings plus the top three in the ASP Africa yearend standings.
De Vries and February have already secured the two ASP World Rankings slots. While de Vries is in Europe competing in ASP Star Series events, along with van Zyl and Peterson, February will be competing at the Billabong Pro Junior. If he goes on to secure a place in the top three in the ASP Africa rankings then the next highest ranked ASP Africa surfer will qualify for Bali.
The Billabong Pro Junior women’s event is a one-off qualifier with the top two finishers awarded invitations to the ASP World Junior Champs. Bianca Buitendag (George) and Sarah Baum (Durban), currently ranked No’s 5 and 10 on the ASP Women’s World rankings, are the favorites to clinch their places at Cape St Francis this weekend.
The ASP World Junior Championships provides the opportunity to kick-start the professional surfing career of aspiring surfers as, along with the prestige and a prize-purse of $100 000 for men and $30 000 for women, the top finishers receive preferential seeding into the major ASP Prime and Star rated events in the following year.
The top four placed men are guaranteed entry into the Round of 96 in all Prime and 6-Star rated events while those finishing fifth to eighth are seeded into the first round of all 6-Star rated contests.