Surfers set their sights on Ballito for 1.4 Million Mr Price Pro Ballito: ASP World Qualifying Series surfers the world over are setting their sights on the pristine seaside town of Ballito on the KwaZulu –Natal North Coast, as the countdown begins for the illustrious R1.4 Million Mr Price Pro Ballito.
The 6-Star ASP WQS event kicks off from 26 June – July 5, 2009, marking the critical halfway mark on the WQS tour and will see some 150 competitors from as far a field as Brasil, Hawaii, the USA, Australia, Spain, Reunion, and France leave nothing to chance as they compete for critical ASP ratings points.
Former ASP World Tour campaigner Daniel Ross (Aus) leads the field as the highest rated surfer in the event. Winning the 6 Star Prime in Margaret River (Aus), as well as securing a quarterfinal finish at the Quiksilver Pro in Durban, Ross has rocketed to an incredible World No. 2 on the WQS ratings, his consistency making him a top contender for this years’ Mr Price Pro Ballito crown.
“It’s been an unreal start to the year for me,” Ross commented from Australia this week. “Winning the Drug Aware Pro (Margaret River) was a big personal achievement as it is classed as one of the best events outside the ASP World Tour and to back it up with more good results at the next two 6 Star Prime events, has put me in a great position.”
“The Mr Price Pro has such a long history and has been won by so many great surfers, guys like Jeff Hackman (Haw), Mark Richards (Aus), Tom Carroll (Aus) and Shaun Tomson (Zaf), so to win and be put alongside a list of names like that would feel incredible.”
With an affinity for reeling right-hand point breaks similar to the fast, hollow set-ups offered by the two mobile Mr Price Pro Ballito event venues, Surfers and Salmon Bay, Ross is set to be a standout at the upcoming event.
“I’ve yet to surf in Ballito but I did a trip with Jordy (Smith) last week and he was saying that the waves in Ballito can be really fun and are better than the waves at New Pier at this time of year” Ross said.
Another surfer hoping to make his mark in Ballito will be WQS No. 5 Jadson Andre (Bra). The young Brasilian stamped his authority on the Durban surf when he won the Quiksilver Pro Durban recently and will be looking to emulate his success on the South Coast, with a solid result on the North Coast at this event.
Local favourites WQS No. 13 Travis Logie (Durban) and WQS No. 15 Brandon Jackson (Durban North) will hold the country’s hopes in the balance as they battle the worlds finest as the highest rated South Africans at this event.
Logie, an elite ASP World Tour competitor for four years from 2005 to 2008 and arguably the most consistent finisher at the Mr Price Pro, reaching two finals over the course of his career, is back on the WQS this year where he is campaigning for a 2010 World Tour berth.
The opportunity to earn precious WQS ratings points at home makes the Mr Price Pro Ballito pivotal to his 2010 bid.
“The Mr Price Pro Ballito is a huge event for me and like any 6 Star being at home there is added incentive to do well,” said Logie. “After finishing with a second place last year I think it’s time for a win.”
Brandon Jackson (Durban) is a former two-time winner of the Mr Price Pro Junior and is currently campaigning for a second year on the WQS where he has made impressive ground this season.
“I’ve bounced back after a bad year in 2008 and have worked hard in the off-season training with my mom and surfing with Travis (Logie). Although Ballito is not my home break, I’ve been surfing there my whole life, I know it well and it’s a good opportunity for me to get a result before they reseed the WQS.”
Other standouts in this year’s line-up include WQS No. 6 Brett Simpson (USA), WQS No. 11 and former ASP World Tour campaigner Luke Munro (Aus), WQS No. 12 Blake Thornton (Aus) and WQS No. 14 Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), all of whom are expected to put on an impressive show.
Patrick Gudauskas (USA) who narrowly missed qualifying for the elite ASP World Tour at the end of 2008 is the top seed for the event. Placing equal third here event last year, Gudauskas will be looking to make the most of his Round of 96 seeding as he focuses on moving up the ratings ladder from his current WQS No. 27 position.
Joining Gudauskas in the Round of 96 will be prolific junior surfer Yadin Nicol (Aus) who is the second seed for the event, WQS No. 6 Dion Atkinson (Aus), former South African now Australian resident Shaun Gossman, Leigh Sedley (Aus) and recent wildcard runner-up at the ASP World Tour Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Adam Robertson (Aus).
Brasil are sending their best in Wiggolly Dantas as well as former ASP World Tour surfers Raoni Monteiro, Leonardo Neves, Rodrigo Dornelles and Yuri Sodre to name but a few.
TJ Barron and Dustin Cuizon are the only Hawaiian surfers seeded directly into the Round of 96 where they will be hoping to be joined by the likes of the younger surfers in Mason Ho (Hawaii) son of Hawaii heavyweight and former pro surfer Michael Ho, and John John Florence both of whom will surf from the first round.
The South African WQS field sees Warwick Wright (Durban), Damien Fahrenfort (Durban) and Antonio Bortolleto (Durban) seeded into the Round of 96 while young up-and-comers Rudy Palmboom (Bluff), Dave Richards (Cape Town) and former Mr Price Pro Champion Ricky Basnett (Bluff) (2006) will have to make their way from the Round of 144, as will former ASP World Tour campaigner Royden Bryson (East London).
Local Pro Surf Tour talents such as recently crowned South African Champion Gavin Roberts (South Coast), Simon Nicholson (Durban), Frankie Obherholzer (South Coast) and Keegan Nel (East London) are other local talents not to be overlooked.
The 6-Star Mr Price Pro Ballito holds a prize money purse of R1.1 Million in the Men’s division with the winner taking home R 164 000.
All the action will be broadcast live on the webcast on www.mrpricepro.com.
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