The world’s top 45 ranked professional surfers will be heading for the renowned waves of Jeffreys Bay in July for the 24th edition of the Billabong Pro, Stop No.5 of 10 on the 2009 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour and the first South African surfing event to make a concerted effort to reduce its impact on climate change.
Supertubes, the 300 metre stretch of coastline universally acknowledged as one of the planet’s top 10 high performance surf breaks, will again be the venue for what has become Africa’s most prestigious and lucrative surfing tournament.
Scheduled for 9-19 July, the 11-day window period allows organisers to select the best possible conditions to guarantee spectacular action during the three days of competition required to determine the champion.
Billabong is taking another step on its environmental sustainability journey by utilising the immense interest in the event to heighten awareness of local and global surf communities to the challenge of climate change, and how we all need to become part of the solution
"At the 2009 Billabong Pro it’s not just the waves at Supers that will be green, we will be making sure our event is too,” says Peter Nicholson, Marketing Manager for Billabong South Africa. “Together with our partners Cleaner Climate we’ve calculated our carbon footprint and have identified and implemented numerous green initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of the event.”
These initiatives include using renewable energy, biodegradable food and beverage containers and paper not plastic bags along with waste and wetsuit recycling. The remaining emissions will be offset using Kyoto compliant carbon credits to ensure that the 2009 Billabong Pro is a low carbon, climate friendly event. More about climate change and what it means to surfers can be found at www.cleanerclimate.com/billabongpro"
The stellar field for the 2009 event is headed by current ASP No. 1 Joel Parkinson (AUS) who has raced into a significant ratings lead by winning two of the three season-opening ASP World Tour events. With a style that seems made for Supers, Parkinson has been a standout at J-Bay since winning the Billabong Pro as a wildcard in 1999 and always looks forward to the event.
“I always look forward to J-Bay,” Parkinson said recently. “There is such a good vibe surrounding the contest and on our lay days we can enjoy so many different activities. You never get bored in South Africa and when Supers is on, there is no other place I would rather be in July!”
Other hot contenders include nine-time ASP World Champion and defending Billabong Pro champion, Kelly Slater (USA), the only surfer to have his name etched on the perpetual trophy four times; current ASP No. 2 and 2007 event winner Taj Burrow (AUS); two-time J-Bay champ and 2007 ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and South African surf star Jordy Smith (Durban).
Jordy, who cut a swathe through the top seeds on his way to the semifinals as a wildcard in 2006 and reached the last 16 last year in his first year as a full-time member of the Top 45, will be joined in the event by fellow South Africans Greg Emslie (East London), twice a semifinalist, and David Weare (Durban) whose innovative surfing is tailor-made for Supers.
The 48 man field comprises the 45 World Tour campaigners plus 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 feature six top SA surfers, five rising international stars and the winner of the Xcel Supertubes Shootout, an event that will run for first time in June featuring 16 J-Bay locals and acknowledged Supertubes experts.
The winner of each of the three four-man heats in the VZ Trials receives a wildcard into the Billabong Pro and the opportunity to test their skills against the world’s best at Supers.
And the action doesn’t stop there! The inaugural Occy Grom Comp, the second of three events on the Billabong Junior Series for surfers aged 16 and younger, will be run at Jeffreys Bay in conjunction with the Billabong Pro. The waiting period extends from 9-15 July and the juniors will take to the surf on days that are not used by the ASP World Tour contest.
All the action will be covered via webcasts featuring live scoring, video footage with multiple camera angles, slow-motion replays, video on demand highlights of previous heats and interviews accompanied by a choice of expert commentary in English, Spanish. Portuguese and French.
The eyes of the surfing world will be firmly fixed on Jeffreys Bay from 9-19 July as hundreds of thousands of surf fans worldwide log millions of page impressions while following the fortunes of their favourite surfers on www.billabongpro.com around the clock.
For those attending the Billabong Pro there is also the legendary party atmosphere in J-Bay throughout the event. The details of the live music shows and other entertainment functions are currently being compiled. Watch this space.