Entries are flowing in at a rate of knots for the upcoming inaugural O’Neill Scottburgh Pro which takes place on March 24 and 25 at Scottburgh beach in South Africa.
The queen of South African surfing Heather Clark (Port Shepstone), reigning Pro Surf Tour (PST) champion Sarah Johnston-Maritz (Warner) and Lyle Bottcher (Durban North) who won the last PST event on the 2006 calendar and finished fifth on the 2006 PST are amongst the top rated surfers that have entered the 2A rated event to date.
Over 80 surfers have gone to the Surfing South Africa (SSA) website surfingsouthafrica.co.za and entered the event with the late entry deadline pegged at March 17. Flamboyant surfing is anticipated when most of the country’s top surfers will be vying for a share of the R15, 000 prize purse as well as valuable points on the SSA PST.
The O’Neill Scottburgh Pro provides men and women’s division surfers with the first opportunity to open their points for the 2007 SSA Pro Surf Tour.
“It is long overdue to have an event like the O’Neill Scottburgh Pro up in Durban. We feel this new event is a necessity in order to grow and develop the brand in Durban going forward, while we simultaneously grow the event into one of the most prestigious events on the surfing calendar over the next couple of years,” commented Chris Bertish the Brand and Marketing Manager for O’Neill South Africa.
Experienced PST surfer Bottcher is the highest rated men’s surfer to enter followed by seventh ranked Quinton Jones of Kommetjie, Matt Kruger (Queensburgh) who ended 2006 in eighth place and Josh Redman who finished ninth on last year’s tour. Antonio Bortoletto (Durban) winner of the recent Goodwave event at New Pier in Durban has also confirmed his entry.
Scottburgh locals who are capable of walking off with the men’s title include Casey Grant as well as O’Neill team riders Quinton Shabalala and Kelvin Zehmke who have their local break wired and are sure to pose a threat to the out of town contenders.
In the Women’s division Johnston-Maritz has her sights set on overcoming international super star Clark who has returned home to compete on the domestic circuit following seven successful years on the elite ASP World Championship Tour. Other seeded surfers include Stacey Guy (Melkbosstrand) and talented 14 year olds Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) and Heidi Palmboom (Bluff).
Upcoming younger entrants such as south coast surfer Julia Morris and O’Neill team member Caylin de Reuck of Melkbosstrand have the potential to cause some upsets amongst the big guns.
Other activities which will be open to the public during the weekend will be Pam Golding’s property exhibition, kite flying, a learn to surf clinic by Point Surf Academy, music and the Vans Expression Session where invited surfers will be going for crazy airborne maneuvers.
As the sun begins to set beachgoers are expected to flock for sundowners at Phat Boys and the official O’Neill Scottburgh Pro party will take place on Saturday, March 24 at Speak Easy . Surfers Paradise, Pam Golding Properties – Savills International, Phat Boyz, Netcare 911, Speak Easy, Vans, USN Ultimate Sports Nutrition, Clayton / Vendetta surfboards and Wimpy are co-sponsors of the O’Neill Scottburgh Pro.
The event is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa, the governing body for the sport in South Africa and is organized by Nerve Events with support from Umdoni Coast & Country Tourism. The event registration takes place on March 23 at Phat Boyz near Scottburgh Beach.