South Africa’s top professional surfers will be in action at Big Bay, Bloubergstrand this weekend in the Cape Town Pro presented by Quiksilver, a World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 rated event for men and women.
The first internationally rated pro event to be run in the city for men since 2010 and since the dawn of democracy for women (1992), the Cape Town Pro offers the country’s surfers the opportunity to earn priceless points on both the QS and WSL Africa regional rankings along with prize purses of R30 000 for men and R20 000 for women.
Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga), who has been the country’s highest ranked QS surfer for the past three years, will be the top seed in the 40-man field for the men’s event, even though this will be his first rated event of the year after taking time off to refine his surfing and equipment.
‘I’m very happy to start my 2016 campaign at the Cape Town Pro and it feels cool to be the top seed for the event,’ said de Vries. ‘My aim for this year is to maintain my ranking in the top 100 on the QS so that I qualify for the QS10,000 events next year. With three rated events in South Africa, hopefully I won’t have to do too much international travelling.’
Michael February (Kommetjie), Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay), Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and Slade Prestwich (Durban), the next highest seeds for the Cape Town Pro, have all been campaigning internationally in 2016. In-form sixth seed Matthew McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay), who reached the finals of events in Australia and Tahiti earlier this year and currently occupies the No. 47 position on the QS leaderboard, is the highest ranked SA surfer in the event.
The men’s event has been given an international flavour with entries from Nate Dorman (USA) and Joaquin Del Castillo (Peru), the eighth and ninth seeds respectively. Adrian Zorriketa (EUK) from the Basque region of Spain starts in Round 1.
Tanika Hoffman (Clifton), who ended the 2015 QS season ranked No55, heads the women’s seeding, followed by QS campaigners Emma Smith (Jeffreys Bay) and Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), with Teal Hogg (uMhlanga) seeded fourth.
The wildcards for the Cape Town Pro are Durbanites Ntando Msibi and Samkelisiwe Cele, both of whom have been brought to Cape Town by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the controlling body for the sport. Sam, as she is known, became the first Zulu girl to enter a WSL rated event at Ballito last year and will be competing in the frigid Cape surf for the first time.
The Cape Town Pro opens with SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) 3A rated events for U-18 boys and girls on Friday. The WSL QS1,000 rated events for men and women run on Saturday and Sunday.
An outreach surfing project featuring over 70 young local surfers will be run between 9am and 12 noon on Sunday at Small Bay, Bloubergstrand as part of Surfing South Africa’s focus on grass roots surfing development.
The Cape Town Pro presented by Quiksilver is supported by the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Quiksilver and Red Bull.
Picture of De Vries courtesy of WSL/Masurel