The first heat to be surfed at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, set to run from 14 – 24 July, will be the VonZipper Superheat.
Two international surfers, two locally nominated surfers and the winner of the Xcel Pro Showdown At Supertubes will contest this 40 minute, winner takes all, battle for the final wildcard slot into the most prestigious surfing event in South Africa.
Jack Freestone from the Gold Coast of Australia and Granger Larsen from Hawaii will be joining the local duo of Shaun Joubert from Mossel Bay and Dale Staples from St Francis Bay in the water. The final surfer vying for a slot into the main event will be Shaun Payne.
Payne, also from St Francis Bay, was the recent winner of the Xcel Pro at Supertubes, beating his brother Ryan in the final. The first place prize was a wildcard slot into the VonZipper Superheat. Shaun has shown his affinity with the long and perfect walls of Supertubes, and could definitely be the dark horse of the heat.
“Just so stoked to be included in the VonZipper Superheat,” said Payne on winning the Xcel Pro. “It’s a hard event to get into, and we are all going to have only one shot at it, so I’m going to be doing my best out there for sure.”
The format for the VonZipper Superheat continues where it left off last year, with the aim of running in perfect surf. “Being the first heat of the main event means that the guys will get good to excellent waves,” said VonZipper South Africa brand manager Chad D’Arcy. “In the past, when we ran a mini trials event, the heats were sometimes run off in less than perfect surf a day before a swell arrived, so that the wildcards were already decided for the official first heat. Now we are the official first heat, so it’s great.”
The winner of the VonZipper Superheat goes on to join the other wildcard, Sean Holmes, in the main event. Also known as “The Nemesis”, Holmes has had incredible results as a wildcard, deposing of world champions with relative ease over the last couple of years. last year he eliminated both Kelly Slater and the late Andy Irons in the Billabong Pro.