The organisers of the JBay WinterFest have announced that the 2014 festival will be held from 10 – 20 July this year.
The exciting news is that the JBay Open of Surfing has been upgraded to a 5A PST (Professional Surf Tour) event, which is the highest rating a local surf event can attain.
The expanded JBay Open will include a junior division that will run from 10 – 13 July and serve as trials for the main event, which will take place from 16 – 20 July.
The contest has been sanctioned by Surf South Africa, who is totally supportive of the efforts of the JBU Surf Club to host a top quality surf event in Jeffreys Bay.
The demise of the Billabong Pro would have had a severe impact on the economy of Jeffreys Bay had the local surf community not decided to stage a winter festival during July, with a surf contest as the anchor event.
There is no WCT event in South Africa anymore, making it harder for professional surfers like Jordy Smith to win a world title, as they have no home ground advantage and have to travel to World Tour events in other parts of the world.
Losing the Billabong Pro had an impact on Jeffreys Bay in terms of the media exposure the event gave to the town.
20 – 30 international media crews used to descend on Jeffreys Bay and the surrounding areas and gave massive exposure to the Eastern Cape.
However, the JBay WinterFest, with multiple sports codes, has attracted a different tourist market to town and many businesses reported better turnovers during July last year, when compared to the previous July.
“The aim of the WinterFest was to ensure that Jeffreys Bay would never again be dependent on one sport code in the winter holidays which is what happened when the Billabong Pro still existed,” said Koffie Jacobs, the organiser of the festival.
“When the ASP pulled the Billabong Pro from their tour, we got the JBU club members together and once we realised that just between ourselves we could hold a multiple sports festival with every code being on the extreme side, we knew we had a formula that would work,” added Jacobs.
Last year’s WinterFest saw a highly popular skate event that included a night longboarding division, a Mountain Bike race and an Enduro through the outlaying farms.
A trail run through the Kabeljous Nature Reserve was held, as well as an open water swim in icy 12 degree C water in Marina Martinique and a very popular fishing competition at Kabeljous beach.
The VW Rally, after a long absence from Jeffreys Bay, ended off the 2013 WinterFest.
The JBay Open of Surfing was the anchor event of the WinterFest last year and the upgrade to a 5A PST rating will see more surfers being given the opportunity of surfing Supertubes.
Many of JBay’s up and coming youngsters will be in the mix in the Junior division, giving the JBay Open much more of a local flavour.
The goal of the WinterFest, which has the full backing of the Kouga Council, is to bring families to town and offer them plenty of activities to participate in and to provide entertainment for all.
Jolly Dolphin will be holding a Music Festival this year so participants as well as spectators can play hard during the day and party by night.
Any sports codes wanting more information about the JBay WinterFest can contact [email protected]