BALLITO, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa – International surfing sensation Jordy Smith returns to Ballito this July to defend his Mr Price Pro Ballito crown in front of a supporting home crowd.Last year saw the Durban-born surfer become the fourth South African ever to capture the prestigious title, an honor he shares with 1969 Gunston 500 winner Gavin Rudolph, six times Gunston 500 winner Shaun Thomson 1973 – 1978 and 2006 Mr Price Pro Champion Ricky Basnett.
“The Mr Price Pro was an event I’d always wanted to win ever since I was a little kid and it was great to do so in front of my friends and family,” Smith said. “It had been several years since I’d last surfed a contest in Ballito, the waves are very different from those in Durban and there is a lot of history with the event as well, so it was very special.”
Smith’s victory in Ballito was significant in that it marked the start to a winning streak that saw him secure a historic victory at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, putting him in contention for the 2010 ASP World Title.
Winning 34 of his 47 heats, totaling a 72 percent heat win average, Jordy made every quarterfinal on the ASP World Title Tour but one, finishing second to none other than professional surfing icon 10X ASP World Champion Kelly Slater, at the end of the year.
This year sees Smith face a new challenge in defending his 2010 Mr Price Pro Ballito crown. Twenty-four of the world’s top 35 ASP World Title Tour surfers have entered to compete for a slice of the R1.7 Million prize purse and 6500 ASP ratings points offered by the event’s new Prime status.
Currently rated World No. 5 on the ASP Elite World Title rankings, Smith is the highest ranked surfer in the event but with former winners such as Tanner Guduaskas 2009, Chris Davidson 2008 and Jihad Khodr 2007 in the draw, not to mention World No. 12’s Jadson Andre and Josh Kerr, No. 17’s Adrian Buchan and 2001 ASP World Champion CJ Hobgood, there are guaranteed to be no easy heats.
“I can’t wait to compete in Ballito again,” Smith said. “All the top guys will be giving it their best shot and it’s not going to be easy against the local guys either. There have been some really good waves in Ballito since the event was moved there and I am looking forward to it.”
With two back-to-back events on home soil – the Mr Price Pro Ballito followed by the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay – Smith’s local knowledge at both breaks will give him added advantage against the worlds best as he looks to gain ground in the 2011 ASP World Title race.
“It’s a big bonus to have these contests at home,” Smiith said. “The Mr Price Pro Ballito is always a great event to take part in before J-Bay to try build some momentum, so I’ll be looking to make the most of it. Both are massive contests, so winning either would be incredibly special.”
With just over one month’s break in competition since the Billabong Pro Rio, Smith has invested all of his time and energy into preparing for this all-important African leg.
“The preparation has been great so far, I’ve been in the gym and surfing, and I’m going to go on a surf trip towards the end of the month before getting straight back into action with the Mr Price Pro Ballito. It’s been a good break, but I’m excited about the upcoming events.
With the support of South Africa behind him on Smith is set to emulate his 2010 success on home soil.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito 2011 will include an action packed Beach Festival running in conjunction with the main event. Beach entertainment, extreme sports, dedicated children’s programmes and a lifestyle and retail area, provide plenty of daytime fun. The ever-popular Mr Price Pro Music concerts will take place on the evening of 8 and 9 July at no cost to festivalgoers.
For additional information on the ASP PRIME Mr Price Pro Ballito log on to http://www.mrpricepro.com/