The world’s top 32 ranked pro surfers are in Jeffreys Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape for the R3-million Billabong Pro J-Bay 2011, stop number four of 11 on the ASP World Tour, the series of events that determines the annual ASP world surfing champion.
The waiting period opens on Thursday, 14 July, and runs until Sunday, 24 July.
The last minute withdrawal of Dane Reynolds, due to an injury that has seen the 25-year-old Californian miss the first three events of the year, has altered the seeding for round one of Africa’s most prestigious surfing event.
Defending champion and white South African surfing sensation Jordy Smith is now pitted against Australia’s Adam Melling in a repeat of last year’s final in which Smith clinched his maiden Elite Tour event victory.
‘The same approach’
“I’ll just take the same approach as last year,” said Smith of the upcoming match-up. “Hopefully the swell picks up a bit before we get under way and it will be a great battle.”
The 26th edition of the Billabong Pro J-Bay is again being staged on the fabled waves at Supertubes, the 300-metre stretch of coastline universally acknowledged as one of the planet’s premier high performance point breaks.
While Reynolds’ flamboyant, cutting-edge manoeuvres will be missed, the outstanding field for the event includes 10-time and reigning ASP world champion Kelly Slater, South Africa’s Smith, Australian former event winners Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow and current ASP number one Adriano de Souza from Brazil.
The established stars face a talented crop of rising stars, including the likes of Owen Wright and Julian Wilson of Australia, Tahiti’s Michel Bourez, Brazilian Alejo Muniz and Hawaii’s Dusty Payne, all of whom will be eager to display their skills in the legendary waves of Jeffreys Bay.
South African challenge
Alongside Smith’s obvious credentials, the South African challenge for the Billabong Pro J-Bay title includes wildcard Sean Holmes.
Nicknamed “The Nemesis” for his extraordinary achievements in conquering the world’s best surfers at Supertubes, Holmes has reached the quarterfinals of the event on three occasions and would like nothing better than a podium finish.
The second wildcard goes to the winner of the VonZipper Superheat, a five-man encounter held on the first day of the event featuring South African Pro Junior stars Shaun Joubert and Dale Staples; international contenders Granger Larson of Hawaii and reigning ASP world junior champion Jack Freestone of Australia, along with Shaun Payne, the winner of the Xcel Pro Showdown at Supertubes.
The 2011 Billabong Pro Music Festival will feature three days of major underground music talent running from Friday to Sunday, 15 to 17 July, at the Jolly Dolphin in Jeffreys Bay.
The line-up consists of 14 top South African bands, including Aking, City Bowl Mizers, P.H.Fat, Jack Parow and the ever-popular local Hot Wasabi band. Tickets are limited and can be purchased at any Billabong Store countrywide.
All the action at the Billabong Pro J-Bay 2011 will be covered live via webcasts on Billabong Pro J-Bay, featuring real-time scoring, expert commentary and interviews, video footage with multiple camera angles, slow-motion replays, video on demand highlights of previous heats and online competitions with valuable prizes.