The longest-running professional surfing event in the world, the Ballito Pro presented by O’Neill, is back in full force – and we think that’s cause for celebration! Here’s what you need to know about this year’s event, appropriately themed ‘umkosi’ (or, majestic celebration).
There are a number of reasons to celebrate the return of the annual Ballito Pro, not least of which is the fact that this year it’s being regarded as a World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series event – for both men and women.
Taking place between 29 June and 10 July at Ballito’s Willard Beach, the event will be the third stop on the Challenger Series, which sees the top professional surfers from around the world going head-to-head in a battle to qualify for a spot on the 2023 Championship Tour.
Apart from the epic surfing action, the event offers a fantastic opportunity for the KwaDukuza region to properly reopen – to both local and international tourism – and as usual there is an exciting festival element running alongside the surfing as well.
The event theme, Umkosi (a majestic celebration) is centred around the Nguni cattle. Speaking on behalf of title sponsors O’Neill South Africa at the press launch recently, brand director Paul Canning said, “This year’s theme is all about honouring the cultural richness of this area of KZN, as well as the fact that Kwadukuza celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The Nguni cattle is an important symbol in African culture. We are extremely honoured and proud to be involved in the Ballito Pro again this year and would like to thank the KwaDukuza Municipality for its support of surfing and raising the event to elite Challenger Series status.”
Surfing and skating showdowns
With more than 15 countries represented at this year’s main event (including the top 30 professional surfers in the world), there is going to be some impressive surfing at the beach between 3 and 10 July when the main events for men and women take place.
The surfing action will kick off before that though, with the exciting O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior WSL Junior Qualifying Series taking place from 29 June until 3 July.
Surfing South Africa general manager Robin de Kock commented, “Surfing South Africa is pleased that our U12 to U18 boys and girls will get an opportunity to compete in the O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior in Ballito once again. Rated as a prime event on the SA Junior Surf Tour, it provides up-and-coming South African surfers an opportunity to be part of the Ballito Pro. Not only do they get to compete for rating points and a share of the generous prize purse on offer, they will also be able to watch some of the world’s best surfers in action in the Ballito Pro itself.”
The top local men and women surfers who did not qualify for the Challenger Series will get another opportunity to earn a spot in the main competition at the Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill trials. The winners will claim the WSL wildcard entry into the main event.
There will also be exciting schools’ events as well, which will see our local schools going up against other coastal schools, as well as a KZN school development initiative with representation from non-profit and empowerment organisations – Small Steps Surfing, Surfers Not Street Children and Sisonke Surf Club.
Local skateboarding enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that the exciting Ballito Pro Skate Jam competition will once again be running alongside the surfing event at the Ballito Bowl, with both an under 16 and a pro division.
The Ballito Pro festival programme is once again jam-packed with fun and activities, both during the day and at night for the duration of the event from 29 June to 10 July.
The much-loved retail area will be up and running down at the beach, with local businesses and event sponsors selling various items, as well as food and drinks stalls, and there will be fun-in-the sun on the beach every day with beach activities and activations, including beach volleyball, fashion shows, yoga and dancing.
The ‘After Dark’ element is sure to be well supported and full of fun, and includes a ‘battle of the deejays’ competition and the return of the much-loved Ballito Pro Music Concerts on 7 and 8 July. The Ballito Village Vibes festival will run every night in the village (in front of Mozambik restaurant), and Conchilla and Good Vibes will provide the perfect venues for ‘after parties’.
Details: www.theballitopro.com, socials @TheBallitoPro,
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/theballitopro. The Challenger Series will be broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com, the free WSL app and the WSL’s YouTube channel.