The World Surf League's top ranked performers will be joined by the cream of South Africa's men, women and junior surfers for a 14 day festival of high performance action in the waves of Willard Beach in Ballito on the KwaDukuza coast from June 27 to 9 July this year.
For the ninth successive year the region will host the world's best men in the Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong, a WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event with a prize-pool of R3.4 million and the highest available ranking points on offer.
The women will showcase their talent in the QS1,000 Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong while the Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel includes events for men and women aged 18-and-than ever under at Ballito for the second year.
"KwaDukuza Municipality is pleased to come together yet again with our valued partners to host yet another spectacular internationally renowned sporting event, which continues to position our area as a leading events tourism destination," says the Mayor of KwaDukuza, Cllr Ricardo Mthembu. "We look forward to the upcoming event as it enters its 9th year on KwaDukuza soil.
"The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is an important stop on the World Surf League tour and plays a critical role as a platform for local South Africans to develop within the sport. Needless to say, it is our fundamental aim to develop our people both economically and socially through events of this nature and we anticipate another successful year in 2017. We are calling on our community and business community to ensure that they provide our visitors with an experience they will remember. We wish all our participants a happy stay in our district and hope that they will enjoy a spectacular experience. We are also looking forward to renewing our partnership with the World Surfing League beyond 2017."
The 49th edition of the world's longest running professional surfing event will be bigger and better than ever in 2017 as it again welcomes the support of global apparel and equipment giant Billabong, who are celebrating the 20th annual running of their acclaimed Billabong Junior Series this year.
"Billabong is honoured to continue our relationship with KwaDukuza," says Chad D'Arcy, Group Marketing & Sales Manager for Billabong South Africa. "The Ballito Pro is the highlight of our competitive year and we look forward to once again presenting this amazing event in 2017.
"We are an authentic surf brand, with a proud legacy of hosting world class surfing events. We are excited to help nurture competitive surfing in South African and give our athletes the best platforms to compete on the world stage. Billabong would like to wish all of the competitors and spectators at this year's event amazing waves and great weather."
The 2016 field for the Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong included a dozen of the world's elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfers and was won by Connor O'Leary (AUS), who along with runner-up Joan Duru (FRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Australians Ethan Ewing and Jack Freestone all went on to qualify for the prestigious 2017 CT thanks to the significant number of ranking points they earned in Ballito.
The 112-man field for the event provides the local WSL Africa members with invaluable experience competing against the world's best, along with opportunities to earn prize-money and coveted rankings points which assist them in gaining entry to the higher rated events internationally and also count towards the annual WSL Africa title.
Similarly, those in the Ballito Women's Pro pres. by Billabong earn prize-money and points on both the international and regional rankings while the competitors 18-and-under in the Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel will be striving for the prestigious event titles and selection for the WSL Africa squad that is invited to the annual WSL World Junior Championships.
"It's been an honour and a pleasure for WSL Africa to work alongside such a progressive thinking municipality as KwaDukuza for the past nine years," said WSL Africa Operations Manager, Colin Fitch. "We're so grateful to the town of Ballito and its residents for welcoming the surfers into their homes and surf for 14 days of world class surfing."
"The Ballito Pro has become one of the most important events on the World Surf League Qualifying Series and most of the winners have gone on to qualify for the elite WSL Championship Tour the following year. Sincere thanks to KwaDukuza and Billabong for turning the dreams of so many South African surfers of all races into a reality."
The Ballito Pro Surf Festival kicks off with the Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel from June 27-29 followed by the Surfing South Africa Trials pres. by Billabong on June 30 and the Ballito Women's Pro pres. by Billabong on 1 and 2 July.
The crown jewel of the festival, the QS10,000 Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong takes centre stage from Monday to Sunday, July 3-9.
Alongside the surfing, visitors will be spoiled for choice with non-stop activities providing even more entertainment throughout the Ballito festival site. South Africa's hottest musical acts appealing to all tastes - rock, pop, hip hop, kwaito, electro and dance - will be performing live on Salt Rock Beach over the last weekend. Beach and extreme sports, culinary contests as well as quality retail and food stalls will captivate visitors to this coastal holiday highlight.
The Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).