Four South African surfers have been granted wildcard entries into the prestigious Mr Price Pro Ballito. The Prime-rated ASP Qualification Series (QS) contest will see some of the world's top surfers, and gives up-and-comers the chance to showcase their skills on a bigger stage.
Wildcards Michael February of Cape Town and Slade Prestwich of Durban will compete in the event as Mr Price wildcards, picked by event organizers, while Durban's David Van Zyl and Jeffreys Bay local Dylan Lightfoot will compete under the banner of ASP Africa. 2009 Mr Price Pro champion Tanner Gudauskas (USA) and World No. 19 Fred Patacchia (HAW) are the two international wildcards.
The contest's 96-man field features only top-ranked surfers from ASP QS. This format offers Wildcard entrants a unique opportunity to potentially improve their rankings, qualify for other Prime and 6-Star events, and ultimately make it to the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), surfing's most elite level of competition.
All Prime competitors are guaranteed a minimum of 380 ratings points. An overall event win packs a substantial 6,500 points toward their QS ranking, enough to bolster any surfing campaign. For the South African hopefuls February, Prestwich, and Lightfoot, a win would break them into the QS Top 100. Sitting at No. 100, Van Zyl is currently the highest-ranked of the four. A Mr Price Pro title would put him in good standing for next year's elite Tour.
For Gudauskas, currently No. 20 on the QS rankings, a wildcard entry is the opportunity to break into the Top 10 on the QS, which marks the cutoff for a WCT bid.
Patacchia, who is currently inside the Top 22 cutoff on ASP WCT rankings, will be looking to use a Prime result as a back-up should he be required to qualify via the QS next season.
Four other South African surfers have qualified for the main event via their ASP rankings. They include World No. 11 Jordy Smith (ZAF), World No. 24 Travis Logie of Durban, Uhmlanga's Beyrick De Vries, who is No. 28 on the QS rankings, and St. Francis Bay's Dale Staples, who is No. 74 on the QS rankings.
Smith, who finished runner-up to Julian Wilson (AUS) in the 2013 Mr Price Pro, is the top seed for the event followed by elite World Tour campaigners Kai Otton (AUS), CJ Hobgood (USA), Adriano De Souza (BRA) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) who complete the top five seeds.
Forty-eight local surfers will compete in the Mr Price Pro Ballito Trials presented by Surfing South Africa on Saturday, June 28 for the remaining two wildcard spots into the main event.