No less than 16 of the elite World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) surfers have thrown their names into the bag for the Ballito Pro, including world No. 2, Kolohe Andino (USA).
Andino put on a stellar performance at the recent Margaret River Pro in West Australia to finish runner-up to Hawaiian John John Florence.
The Ballito Pro defending event winner, Peterson Crisanto (BRA), will return to KwaDukuza for the world’s longest running professional surfing event.
Crisanto will join fellow Brazilian competitors including 2015 World Champion, Adriano de Souza and 2017 Ballito Pro runner-up Willian Cardoso.
De Souza has been out of the water for the past nine months due to injury and the Ballito Pro will be his first event of the year.
Australia’s Wade Carmichael, the 2018 CT Rookie of the Year, will be a credible threat in any heat at Willard Beach.
Carmichael let his powerful surfing do the talking in 2018, earning an equal 3rd place in Ballito after losing out to eventual runner-up Jack Freestone (AUS).
Other big international names include Hawaiians Ezekiel Lau and Seth Moniz, Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA) and Frederico Morais (PRT).
South African favourite and former two-time event winner, Jordy Smith, will come into the event with a string of great results behind his name and sitting at No. 5 on the CT leaderboard.
The Durbanite enjoys competing in front of his hometown crowds, who rock up in their numbers to support the local stars.
The South African contingent includes 2018 CT competitor Michael February (Kommetjie) and top QS surfers Matthew McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), hometown hero Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), David van Zyl (Glenashley), Adin Masencamp (Strand), Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay) and Slade Prestwich (Durban).
On Sunday, 30 June, the Ballito Trial will give 32 surfers one last opportunity to earn a slot into the main event.
The Championship Tour surfers will then head to Jeffreys Bay for the Corona Open JBay, which takes place from 9 – 22 July.
The Corona Open JBay forms part of the annual JBay Winterfest, which takes place from 6 – 22 July in Jeffreys Bay.
Photo: Dylan Lightfoot from Jeffreys Bay