7 July, 2009 : – – Jeffreys Bay — Current World No. 1 Joel Parkinson holds a substantial ratings lead over the rest of the world’s top 45 ranked surfers as they head into the R2.7 million Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay, Stop No. 5 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour and the only event of this status on the African continent.
‘Parko’, winner of the first two events of the year, is in the form of his life and added a 3rd place in Brazil to the 9th he earned in Tahiti. The Australian has accumulated 3 876 points in 2009, 670 more than second ranked Adriano de Souza from Brazil whose best ever start to a season includes two runner-up finishes, a 5th and 17th.
Growing up riding the long right point-breaks on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Parkinson won the Billabong Pro as an 18 year-old wildcard in his first visit to Jeffreys Bay back in 1999 and has a special affinity for the wave and the town.
“Without a doubt, JBay is one of my favorite waves on tour,” said Parkinson. “I’m looking forward to surfing there again and I’m feeling confident going into the event.” CJ Hobgood (USA), the 2001 World Champion, holds the No. 3 ranking followed by 2007 event champion Taj Burrow and fellow Australian Mick Fanning, the 2007 World Champ and a two-time winner at J-Bay.
Jordy Smith at No. 8 heads the South African challenge while Kelly Slater (USA), the reigning and nine-time World Champion, snapped his career worst run of three successive 17th place results by winning the event in Brazil last Friday, a result that boosted him into the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Slater was in confident mood after his first victory of the year, and who can argue with the only surfer to have raised the Billabong Pro trophy four times. “I don’t feel like I have any pressure on me, and I tend to do my best when I have no pressure. We’re coming up on Jeffreys Bay, which is probably my best event historically, and hopefully I can build off this result,” said Slater.
South Africans Greg Emslie and David Weare will be hoping to jumpstart their 2009 ASP World Tour campaigns at J-Bay. The pair currently occupy equal 35th spot in the rankings but are less than 200 points off 27th position that would see them re-qualify for the Dream Tour in 2010.
Emslie, from East London, just 2.5 hours drive from Jeffreys Bay, has twice reached the semi-finals in the Billabong Pro while Durbanite Weare won a Billabong Junior Series event at Supertubes back in the late 1990’s and has the repertoire to do well there again.
As the globe’s surfing super stars duke it out for points, prize-money and prestige, the 11 days of the Billabong Pro offers plenty of action, starting with the VonZipper Wildcard Trials that will see the winners of three four-man heats run on the first day of action seeded directly into Round 1 of the main event where they will take on the world’s best surfers
There is also the inaugural Occy Grom Comp for Under 16, U14 and U12 boys. Named after the legendary 1999 World Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, who retired from the ASP World Tour at the end of 2007, a highlight of the Grom Comp will be ISA World U16 Champion Keanu Asing from Hawaii taking on SA’s best at the Point between 9 and 15 July.
Occy himself will be in action at Jeffreys Bay when he re-ignites his rivalry with three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren (USA) in the Clash of the Icons. In the 1980’s these two legends of surfing met in 16 epic encounters that have become part of the folklore of the sport. A quarter of a century after their first meeting the score is tied at eight wins apiece and the decider will go down in the best conditions available during this year’s Billabong Pro.
“I can’t believe its 8-all” said Occhilupo in Australia on the weekend. “This will be a massive heat and I’m taking it seriously, as I’m sure Tom will be as well, and there’s no better venue for us to meet than at Jeffrey’s Bay.“
The action is not confined to the ocean and the coastal town’s well documented party atmosphere will be in full swing throughout the event, starting with the Malibu Festival featuring three-days of music, entertainment and interactive lifestyle activities from Friday to Sunday, 10-12 July, at the Supertubes picnic site.
Hosting top SA bands such as aKING, Zebra and Giraffe, Tidal Waves and The Plastics to name just four of the 13acts in the line-up, Malibu will team up with Kreate and Complete Events to present workshops on all aspects of surfing – from beginners to advanced – along with bars, surfboard auctions, give-aways and live feeds of the surfing action. Tickets are available from Computicket.
The first two days of action in the Billabong Pro will also feature autograph signing sessions with current World No. 1 Joel Parkinson, fellow ASP World Tour stars Taj Burrow and Tiago Pires, legends Mark Occhilupo and Luke Egan and all the VonZipper wildcards including Sean “The Nemesis” Holmes, Ryan Payne – winner of the Xcel Supertubes Showdown, Keanu Asing and rising SA stars like Shaun Joubert and Dale Staples.
There is a retail outlet selling authentic contest apparel and memorabilia including Occy’s biography “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Mark Occhilupo”, which can be personally signed by Occy himself at the autograph sessions.
This year Billabong have taken yet another step on their environmental sustainability journey by making the Billabong Pro the first surfing event in South Africa to reduce its impact on climate change. In collaboration with Cleaner Climate the event will implement a number of initiatives to minimise environmental impact and offset the remaining emissions with by investing in carbon credits.
The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay runs from July 9-19, an 11 day waiting period during which contest director Mike Parsons can select the best possible conditions at Supertubes in which to determine the 2009 champion.
So get to Jeffreys Bay for Africa’s most prestigious surfing event. If you cannot be there, join the tens of thousands of surfing enthusiasts from around the world as all the action is webcast LIVE on www.billabongpro.com via high speed 2Gb Telkom lines and featuring multiple camera angles, replays, scores and expert commentary in English and Portuguese.
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10:
1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3876 pts
2 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 3206 pts
3 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 3072 pts
4 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 3050 pts
5 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 2940 pts
6 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 2625 pts
7 – Tom Whitaker (AUS) 2532 pts
8 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 2486 pts
9 – Kelly Slater (USA) 2430 pts
10 – Damien Hobgood (USA) 2342 pts