BALLITO, Kwa-Zulu Natal / South Africa (Tuesday, June 7, 2011) – Six talented South African surfers have been granted wildcard entries into the prestigious R1.7 Million ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito from July 4-10, 2011.
Greg Emslie (East London), Davey Brand (Cape Town) and Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) will make their way into the event courtesy of Mr Price wildcards while Klee Strachan (Winklespruit), Brendon Gibbens (Cape Town) and David Weare (Durban) will take on the worlds’ best courtesy of ASP Africa wildcards.
Slotted directly into the round of 96, these six surfers will take on the event’s top seeds right from their first heat where they will be guaranteed a minimum of R5000 (US$ 750) should they bow out early and an enormous R270 000 (US$40,000) should they win the entire event!
The Mr Price Pro Ballito’s exclusive 96-man field means only the top ranked surfers on the ASP World Rankings qualify for a place in the main event, making a wildcard entry invaluable for non ASP World ranked surfers.
ASP World Tour retiree Greg Emslie, who flew the South African flag for a record nine years at the elite level, knows just how exceptional an opportunity like this one is. The powerful natural-footer (left-foot forward stance) will have the hopes of South Africa on his shoulders as the most experienced of this year’s wildcard deck.
“I can’t wait,” Emslie said. “To have the chance to compete against the top surfers in the world is always special. I feel I am surfing better and more progressive than ever now that I am retired and I look forward to taking on the internationals in a few weeks time.”
Another skilled international campaigner is David Weare. Weare competed at elite level for two years in 2006 and 2009 and although now retired from international competition, Weare remains a fierce competitor capable of causing any number of upsets at this year’s event.
“I'm super excited to have made it into this event,” Weare said. “It'll be good to see all the crew again and get to surf against them again. I'm still a competitor at heart so I'll definitely be giving it my all at this event!”
Young, up-and-coming talent Davey Brand, 18, will attract plenty of attention when he hits the water for his first heat. Captaining the South African team to the ISA Quiksilver World Games to Peru recently where he placed third in the U18 division, Brand welcomes the opportunity to put his skills to the test against some of the ASP World Title Tour surfers.
“I am so gratefully for this opportunity,” Brand said.” I’m taking it on with a nothing to loose everything to gain attitude and will give it everything I’ve got to make it as far as I can in the competition.”
A total of seven South African surfers have also qualified for the main event via their ASP World ranking. They include World No. 2 Jordy Smith (RSA), former ASP World Tour campaigner Travis Logie (Dbn), Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay), former ASP World Tour campaigner Royden Bryson (Cape Town), Brandon Jackson (Durban North), Rudy Palmboom (Bluff) and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay).
Eight South African surfers will compete in the trials for the remaining two spots into the main event. The trialists are Beyrick De Vries (Umhlanga), Chad Du Toit (Dbn), Kyle Lane (Umhlanga), Frankie Obherhozer (Scottburgh), Mathew Bromley (Cape Town), Alan Johns (Ballito), Sean Holmes (CT) and Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay).
The eight trialists will compete in two, four man heats with the top two from each heat advancing into a four-man final. First and second place finalists will advance into the main event.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito includes an action packed beach festival including beach entertainment; extreme sports, dedicated children’s programmes and a lifestyle and retail area provide plenty of daytime fun. The ever-popular Mr Price Pro Music concerts will take place on the evening of 8 and 9 July at Salt Rock at no cost to festivalgoers.