Billabong Pro – how it all began

After starting life as the Beach Hotel Classic, the surfing event at Jeffreys Bay was upgraded to World Tour status in 1984, and with it came the sudden attention of the surfing world as Supertubes delivered four days of incredible 8 – 10 foot surf.
Mark Occhilupo announced his arrival on the pro circuit by winning the event.

Occy bottom turn. Photo: ASP

The event was not run in 1985 and 1986, but by 1987 it was back on track as the Billabong / Country Feeling J-Bay Surf Classic. In 1991, the Surf Classic was followed by the one-off Country Feeling Dream Sequence with Luke Egan (Aus) earning himself a prime Jeffreys Bay plot of land for his victory. In 1993 the contest was upgraded to an ASP World Qualifying Series for the first time.
How it all began- the Beach Hotel Classic

1996 started in small waves and, for the first time in the 12 year history of the event, had to be moved up to Boneyards. However, by noon the swell was picking up and 8 foot waves were being ridden at Supertubes with World Champ, Kelly slater going on to win the event, which by now had been upgraded to its current Status of a World Championship Tour event.
The withdrawal of CSI as a co-sponsor in 1997 led to the demise of the WCT event replaced by the 13th Billabong Country Feeling Surf Classic. The 1999 event was the year of the wildcard, with Sean Holmes scoring the highest points of round one before 19 year-old Joel Parkinson (Aus) recorded a spectacular maiden WCT victory.
Parko in deep. Photo: ASP

The first 2 events of the new millennium again produced outstanding surfing resulting in Jake Paterson recording back-to-back victories.
The introduction of the VonZipper Trials in 2002 enabled local standout Sean Holmes to earn a wildcard, eliminating eventual 2002 world champ Andy Irons (Haw) to finish 5th overall.
The 2003 event will remain forever etched in the memory banks of all who witnessed it. The then six-time world champ Kelly Slater, seized the opportunity presented by the early exit of runaway ratings leader Andy Irons to clinch a famous victory with some of the best surfing ever seen.
Andy Irons at Supertubes: Picture - Jaconi Comley

In 2004, after finally gaining the upper hand over uber-wildcard Sean Holmes, Andy Irons crowned a spectacular victory with a perfect 10 point ride in the final over Nathan Hedge (Aus).
The 2005 edition produced the most dramatic finish in the long and esteemed history of the event. On the final day of the waiting period, in rising 8 foot surf and needing a 9.23 point ride to overtake Andy Irons, Kelly Slater scored a wave 30 seconds before the final siren that the judges rewarded with 9.5, giving the Floridian a famous victory.
A slow start to the 2006 event with numerous lay-days culminated in an epic finale when Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow went head-to-head in excellent 4-6 foot surf with Mick eventually taking the title
2007 saw Taj Burrow finally claim his maiden victory at J-Bay while 2008 saw current 10 time world champ, Kelly Slater clinch another Billabong Pro title at J’Bay. In 2009, Joel Parkinson demolished the field to secure his second Billabong Pro victory, ten years after winning it as a 19 year old wildcard.
Jordy Smith the current title holder. Photo ASP

That brings us to last year, when years of local anticipation were finally fulfilled by SA prodigy; Jordy Smith, who blasted through the field to claim his maiden Word Tour victory on home soil in front of thousands of ‘vuvuzela’ wielding fans!

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