THE latest edition of one of the great global surfing contests, built around an iconic right-hand point break, was launched in Jeffreys Bay last night (Wednesday July 14 2011). The R3-million Billabong Pro 2011 is one of the most anticipated events on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) tour, and it has a lot to do with the wave, Billabong international spokesman Aussie JJ Jenkins told The Herald.
“It’s impressively long and holds it’s shape perfectly, so it’s almost always contestable, no matter the size.
“Spots like Tahiti, where we are going next, can be tense and dangerous because the wave breaks over a shallow coral reef. But this just provides a wonderful canvas for the surfers to entertain the crowds.”
Billabong J Bay was won last year by South African sensation Jordy Smith, 23, whose trademark powerful turns detonate extraordinary sprays of water. It was his first win on the Association of Professional Surfers (ASP) tour, and many will be hoping for a repeat performance this year.
He told The Herald the event held great significance for him.
“I started coming here when I was six, with my Dad. It’s my favourite break on the world tour. I’m one hundred per cent here to win.”
Currently topping the ASP rankings, Adriano de Souza, 24, is the first Brazilian to achieve this status.
Having grown up in a favela shanty-town, he shone at an early age and it was here in South Africa that he scored his first 10 on the professional circuit – at the age of 13.
Diminutive in stature next to Smith, he was one of the favourites going into the J Bay event – but last night he was nursing a sore knee.
“I’m not one hundred per cent but I wanted to come here and do my best because this event is filled with tradition.”
One of Billabong's main partners in J Bay is the EC Parks and Tourism Agency and officials from the organisation will be present throughout the event and afterwards to facilitate any traveling that the surfers or their families might want to do.
The forecast is that the swell will be contestable from this afternoon thurs afternoon and that while it may drop off through the weekend, it will pick up again towards the middle and end of the 11-day window for the event.