First run in Durban back in 1992, when the event was known as the Gunston 500, the women's event established a proud tradition over the next 17 years with former winners including World Champions Layne Beachley (AUS), fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore and Sofia Mulanovich of Peru. The event ran once in Ballito (in 2009) when inclement conditions forced the cancellation of the event with 32 women still in contention.
South Africa's top female surfers are ecstatic about the return of the Ballito Women's Pro.
"It's great for women's surfing in South Africa to have a Qualifying Series event in our local waves," said Tanika Hoffman, SA's highest-ranked QS surfer. "The event will be an excellent stepping stone for local up-and-coming girls to get valuable QS experience and points without having to travel too far."
Event organizers and sponsors are also elated to be involved in making top-class women's surfing available again for local competitors and spectators.
"It's a great privilege to be part of such a prestigious event," said Vangie Boettger, Women's Marketing & Team Manager for Billabong SA. "Internationally the standard of women's surfing is at an all-time high and an event of this calibre will help raise the bar amongst the local South African contingent."
The Ballito Pro Festival, which will run in conjunction with the main event, will offer plenty of action and entertainment outside the water. The action-packed program for the week-long festival includes daily doses of beach soccer and volleyball, stage performances by local dancers, singers and performers and an exciting retail area.
In addition to this, an extreme sports program is guaranteed to thrill, with Freestyle Motocross displays by Monster Le Riche brothers, a Monster Surf Expression Session powered by Zig Zag and a Monster Beach Surf Movie Night. Another crowd pleaser, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival returns to La Montagne for a 'flavorsome' few nights, hosting an artisan food market, a wine and coffee showcase and the return of the popular cooking competitions.
Music lovers won't be disappointed either with 5FM taking over the music reigns, bringing some of South Africa's most talented music acts to the stage with Crush Night Club after-parties continuing the celebrations late into the night.