A massive contingent of highly ranked international surfers will join the cream of South Africa's competitors in the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley making the World Surf League (WSL) rated event for men, women and junior men and women the most prestigious to be held on the Durban beachfront in a decade.
Scheduled for Wednesday to Sunday, 14-18 June at New Pier on Dairy Beach, the event offers more than R1 million in prize money, along with precious points on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) rankings which determine surfers' qualification and seeding in events worldwide.
The sixth of 12 WSL events to be staged in South African waters this year, and the fourth in the inaugural City Surf Series, the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley is headlined by the QS3,000 men's event which offers a US $75,000 prize purse, of which the winner pockets $12,000 and 3,000 points.
The 160 man field features many of the most exciting emerging talents in world surfing, including Yago Dora (BRA) whose high-flying aerial manoeuvres saw him earn a wildcard into the Oi Rio Pro Championship Tour (CT) event last month. The young Brazilian eliminated reigning WSL champion and current Championship Tour (CT) rankings leader John John Florence (HAW) and former world champs Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Mick Fanning (AUS) on his way to third place.
Other international stars in the biggest entry for a QS3,000 this year are current QS No. 2 Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) and former CT members Davey Cathels (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW), Ricardo Christie (NZL), Alejo Muniz(BRA) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA).
The South African challenge is headed by the inform Michael February (ZAF), currently ranked No. 19 on the QS leaderboard and wearing the Skullcandy rankings leaders striped vest after featuring in the final of all three City Surf Series events to date, claiming two titles.
February will start in the Round of 64 along with Beyrick De Vries (ZAF), who recently finished fifth in a QS6,000 in Japan. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) starts in the Round 96 and the other 23 South Africans who have qualified for the event are in the Round of 160.
The 32 strong field for the QS1,000 women's event includes a dozen international competitors with Zoe McDougall (HAW) the highest ranked at No. 18. Emma Smith (ZAF), Nicole Pallet (ZAF) and Crystal Hulett (ZAF) spearhead the South Africa challenge.
Jake Elkington (ZAF) and Sophie Bell (ZAF) top the regional rankings heading into the JQS1,000 junior men's and women's events respectively. They will be highly motivated to consolidate their positions in the chase for the 2017 WSL Africa titles and selection for the squad that will represent the region at the WSL Junior Championships in Australia in January.
"Volkswagen and the Kombi in particular have been synonymous with Surfing for decades. Nowhere is this more true than in South Africa where John Whitmore, hailed as the Father of South African surfing, was the first person to own a Kombi back in the fifties," says Tarryn Knight, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Marketing Manager.
"To sponsor such a prestigious event, with a name steeped in history, was the perfect fit for Volkswagen and an exciting honour for us. It's fantastic to see so many entries for the event. Surfing might be an individual sport in the water, but there are families, coaches, friends, and supporters on the shore, and that is what Volkswagen as ‘the peoples car' is all about."
The provisional schedule for the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres. by Hurley sees the junior champions crowned on Friday 16 June (Youth Day), the women's title decided on Saturday and the men's final run on Sunday.
An outreach programme will be conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) during the event. Participants will be involved in beach activities, water coaching, a tag team contest, beach relays and an Easter egg hunt with all participants receiving breakfast, lunch and a commemorative medal.
Live scoring, results, images, videos and more will be available at WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL App, with highlights on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
The Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing is proudly supported by Hurley, Tsogo Sun, Durban Tourism, Skullcandy, El Jimador, Yesman, California Dreaming, World Surf League, Surfing South Africa and Accelerate Sport.