Following date changes and coronavirus doubts, the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill is back on the calendar, running from 7-18 July this year as a Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 event. Over the same time period, Ballito will host its first South African Surfing Championships, bringing South Africa’s best surfers to Ballito shores.
Although the Ballito Pro has in past years been a QS 10 000 event, this was not possible for an event hosted in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic this year. It does not affect the potential QS points total for future Ballito Pro events once the world has returned to normality and international travel is allowed.
It does mean, however, that international competitors from outside of Africa are unlikely to be present this year, although the standard of competition will still be high among Africa’s best surfers.
The Ballito Pro is the longest running professional surfing event in the world, this year in its 52nd iteration and will be back at its rightful home on Willard Beach with favourable surf conditions expected in July.
“As the KwaDukuza municipality we are very pleased to implement one of our key tourism recovery elements by supporting the retention of the Ballito Pro presented by our partners O’Neill,” said KDM Mayor, Dolly Govender. With limited professional events available, the 2021 Ballito Pro will be the premier surfing event on the African continent. Foreign competitors from Morocco, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are invited to compete depending on Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The 96-strong entry field provides local World Surf League (WSL) Africa members with coveted ranking points, giving the top 5 competitors a chance to qualify for the Challenger Series campaign in 2022. Competitors in the Ballito Women’s Pro (QS 1 000) will be awarded prize money and points on the WSL Africa regional rankings.
Surfers in the U18 division of the Rookie Junior Pro (JQS 1 000) will be striving for a good result, as it could see them competing in the WSL World Junior Championships at the end of 2021. The U12 to U16 surfers will compete as part of the SA Surf Tour and will earn prize money and ratings points for their efforts.
“With the disappointment of no events in 2020 behind us, we are excited to be able to host a world class event like the Ballito Pro. South Africa’s young surfers are hungry to make an impact on the QS and a good result at this prestigious event could catapult you into the big leagues,” said WSL Africa regional manager, Colin Fitch.
Ninety-six men and women representing 8 districts will descend on Ballito’s shores for the 55th SA Surfing Championships. It is the longest running national championship in Africa, hosted for the first time in Kommetjie in 1965 and since in Durban, Cape Town, East London, Jeffreys Bay, Seal Point, St Michaels on Sea, Victoria Bay, Mossel Bay, Trafalgar and Richards Bay.
Ballito will add another name to the list of prestigious surfing locations around South Africa, ensuring the double header in July is going to be an incredible event. “We look forward to hosting the prestigious 55th Surfing South Africa Championships for the first time in KwaDukuza and wish to welcome all districts to our region for this competition,” said Govender.
This year’s 8 districts will be represented by 6 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams, to reach the total of 96 competitors. These surfers would have competed in a series of trials within their districts in order to be selected to compete at the national level. KwaZulu-Natal will be ably represented by the Ilembe Surfriders, eThekweni Surfriders and Ugu Surfriders.
“Surfing South Africa is stoked to be associated with the Ballito Pro in the form of our annual South African Surfing Championships. 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 President’s Cup,” said Surfing South Africa general manager, Robin de Kock.
The Ballito Pro will continue to host developmental surf contests and invitational showcases in order to create a platform for all communities with KwaDukuza and the country as a whole.
The tailor-made festival programme which has been a past favourite for tourists and residents alike will also return, running for the length of both competitions. Music, arts, recreational activities and hospitality will be on the calendar, showing off the best of Ballito and KwaDukuza in the process.
Governmental guidelines on Covid-19 will be strictly adhered to over the 11 day period, ensuring the safety of all involved.
For more information, visit: www.zulu.org.za