BALLITO, Kwa-Zulu Natal/South Africa (Friday, July 1, 2011) – The ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito is set for an epic start with a three-meter swell expected to greet 23 of the World’s top 34 surfers who will take on the finest up-and-coming campaigners at Ballito’s Surfers Beach from July 4 – 10, 2011.
The event, Stop No. 7 of 11 on the ASP PRIME tour offers crucial points for surfers’ ASP World Ratings and a prize purse of R1.7 Million.
Speaking at the official press conference at Surfers Beach on Friday, ASP Africa Operations Manager Colin Fitch said, “This event is one of the single most important Prime event of the year as it determines who will be on the World Tour for the next six months.”
Defending Champion Jordy Smith (Llandudno, Cape Town), 23, heads this year’s field as the event’s top seed and is looking forward to defending his crown against the world’s best.
“Winning the event last year was definitely a great feeling,” Smith said. “This event has so much history and being in my hometown it’s one I want to keep on winning.”
Although Smith grew up surfing the waves along the Durban beachfront, he was complimentary of the event’s new home in KwaDukuza.
“I really like this town, it has a great set up and the swell really comes in here,” Smith said. “It’s a heavy wave and has a lot of power. The first year the event moved here it had some of the best waves the PRIME Tour has ever seen, so I think that says it all.”
ASP Wildcard Greg Emslie (East London), 34, is looking forward to returning to international competition. Enjoying nine years at elite level, Emslie retired at the end of 2009 and welcomes the opportunity to take on many of surfing’s top up-and-comers this week.
“The young guys will be tough to beat with their new tricks, but it keeps you young,” Emslie said. “You’ve just got to get the right waves and do your best surfing.”
Casey Grant (Scottburgh), 21, thoroughly impressed the judges in 2010. Finishing runner-up behind Smith, Grant is a firm favourite to take down some big names at this year’s event.
“I never thought I would make the final last year so to finish second to Jordy was a huge confidence boost,” Grant said. “I don’t have any specific strategy this year but I’ll be watching the conditions closely and taking that confidence into my heats.”
South Africa’s only World Champion Shaun Tomson (1977), 55, flew in from California this week to perform live commentary as well as present this year’s winner with the trophy. An avid supporter of South African surfing, Tomson is hoping to see a breakthrough’ performance from a South African surfer this year.
“Last year was a breakthrough year for Jordy because he won this event and went on to win in Jeffreys Bay so this is very much a springboard event for young surfers,” Tomson said. “It was definitely a breakthrough event for me when I won my first Gunston 500 (1973) and it would be great to see a young South African come through the woodwork and win here this year.”
Tomson will be in Ballito throughout the week where he will throw himself into professional surfing at every level at the Mr Price Pro Ballito.
“I love to see young guys reach their full potential,” Tomson said. “I’ve watched so many pro surfers make the same mistakes over and over again and so I’ve decided to hold a workshop for pro surfers. I’ll be giving going through simple steps on how to surf to your full potential and build on things like confidence and character.”
Tomson will present a free C.O.R.E Performance Workshop on the evening of July 5 at 18.30 at La Montagne hotel. On Thursday evening he will be screening his documentary film Bustin Down the Door at Willards Beach.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito will kick off on Monday at 8am. The Mr Price Pro Ballito will feature and exciting Beach Festival with loads of action sports, kids activities and more. The music concerts will take place at Salt Rock on July 8 and 9 from 16.30 pm.
To watch the Mr Price Pro Ballito LIVE log on to http://www.mrpricepro.com/