The eyes of the surfing world will be firmly fixed on Jeffreys Bay during July as the world’s best surfers go to work on the universally renowned waves during the R2.3 million (US $320 000) Billabong Pro, the fifth of 11 events on the 2008 ASP World Tour.
Supertubes, the venue for the 24th edition of what has become Africa’s most prestigious and lucrative surfing tournament, is unanimously acknowledged as one of the planet’s top 10 high performance surf breaks.
Add the talent of the world’s 45 highest ranked surfers, including 8X World Champion and current run-away ratings leader Kelly Slater (Florida), reigning World Champion Mick Fanning, defending event champion Taj Burrow (AUS) and former 3X World Champion Andy Irons (Hawaii).
The Billabong Pro has an 11 day waiting period – July 10 to 20 – but only requires four full days of competition to determine a champion, giving the organisers the luxury of being able to choose the best possible conditions in which to run the contest and ensuring cutting edge performances by the world’s best surfers.
Current World No. 2 and 1999 Billabong Pro champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) will be back to try for a second crown alongside emerging talents like Bede Durbidge (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and rookie sensation Dane Reynolds (USA), who will be making his debut at Supertubes.
South Africa’s four contenders in the main draw are four-year veteran Travis Logie (Durban), Royden Bryson (East London), Ricky Basnett (Bluff) and exciting rookie Jordy Smith (Durban) who reached the semi-finals as a wildcard in his inaugural World Tour event in 2006.
The 45 World Tour campaigners will be joined in the 48 man format by three wildcards who are determined by the Von Zipper Wildcard Trials. Staged on the morning of the first day the contest runs, the VZ Trials comprise six top SA surfers versus six rising international stars with the winner of each of the three four-man heats receiving a wildcard into the Billabong Pro, and the opportunity to test their skills against the world’s best at Supers.
While the international contenders are yet to be announced, the SA contenders will be Durbanites Warwick Wright and Chad du Toit, Rudy Palmboom (Bluff), Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit), Damien Fahrenfort (Kommetjie) and Shaun Payne (St Francis Bay).
For those attending the Billabong Pro, the 2008 event also features plenty of evening entertainment including live music at The Mexican, revamped spectator-friendly infrastructure and the world’s most technologically advanced control tower.