South Africa’s top professional surfer, Jordy Smith returns to Ballito as the hometown favourite, determined to take out the Mr Price Pro Ballito for the second time this July.
2010 saw the Durban born surfer become only the fourth South African ever to capture the prestigious title, an honour he shares with 2006 Mr Price Pro Champion Ricky Basnett, six times Gunston 500 winner Shaun Tomson 1973 – 1978, and 1969 Gunston 500 winner Gavin Rudolph. After securing a semi final finish in 2011, Smith is determined to returning to the podium’s highest block.
“I made the semis in 2011 and the year before I won, so I was a little upset I didn’t make the final last year,” Smith said from Fiji last week. “I’m looking forward to going home, surfing some good waves and hopefully coming away with the win.”
After a slow start on the ASP World Championship Tour this year, Smith finds himself just inside the top ten at World No. 8. While posting a great semi final finish at the season opener on the Gold Coast in February, Smith has slipped steadily down the results ladder with an equal fifth at Bells Beach in Australia followed by an equal ninth in Rio, Brazil and finally an equal 13th in Fiji.
“I haven’t had the greatest year and I think it will be good to go home and regroup and rebuild my confidence for the second half of the year,” Smith explained. “I’ll be in Reunion doing some board testing prior to the Pro as the waves are similar to Ballito (hollow and it’s a right hander), so I’ll get a lot of practice and come in fresh for the contest and hopefully win it.”
Smith is the event’s second seed behind top seed and current World No. 4 Adriano De Souza (BRA) and will lead the South African charge into battle.
While two of last year’s top four finishers, runner up John John Florence (HAW) and equal third place Julian Wilson (AUS), have pulled out of the event, Florence due to an intense travelling schedule and Wilson due to injury, this year’s elite line-up includes defending event champion Patrick Guduaskas, 2001 ASP World Champion CJ Hobgood (USA) and his equally talented brother Damien.
The South African contingent looks just as promising with a total of 12 locals qualifying for the main event through either their world ranking or via wildcard entries. They include World No. 24 Travis Logie, former World Tour campaigner Royden Bryson, former SA Junior Champion Shaun Joubert, Brandon Jackson (Dbn), internationally acclaimed pro junior surfer Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and Rudy Palmboom (Dbn).