Local Umhlanga surfer Beyrick De Vries is counting the days until some 84 international surfers arrive to compete at one of his local breaks in the Mr Price Pro Ballito. The Prime, ASP Qualification Series (QS) contest is slated to start June 30.
If local knowledge puts him ahead of his opponents it will be a dream come true for De Vries, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of elite ASP World Tour athletes and fellow Durban surfers Jordy Smith and Travis Logie.
"It is such a blessing for the South African surfers to have an event like the Mr Price Pro Ballito in our country," De Vries said. "The event offers double the prize money and ratings points of other star-rated Qualifying Series stops, so it's a real foot in the door for those of us wanting to make it on the international stage.â€
Rated 28th on the ASP (QS) rankings, De Vries has climbed almost 100 places up the ratings ladder since this time last year, making him a firm favorite to not only bring the trophy back to South Africa (last year Aussie Julian Wilson reigned victorious) but also to bolster his shot at making the 2015 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT).
"Last year I reached the Round of 16 here and after a disappointing result in Mexico this week I will be looking to make up some lost ground," De Vries said. He was eliminated in Round 2 at the recent 6-Star Los Cabos Open of Surf.
Competing in the familiar waves of Ballito, just 20 minutes away from his home, is an advantage that few surfers have, so it's one De Vries wants to make the most of while he has the chance.
"I can't even explain how much of an impact competing at home has on your surfing," he said. "It's the opportunity to compete without the stress of travel, jet lag, or finding the right nutrition and all the other factors you have worry about when you are overseas.
"I surf the way I am feeling and, at the end of the day, it all comes down to confidence. I perform my best when the stress is off."
Despite his competitive outlook, De Vries is looking forward to giving his international rivals a warm African welcome.
"It is epic to have the world's best surfers in Ballito because I know how fun home is, how good the waves are and how rich the culture is," he said.
A fierce competitor with no shortage of variety in his repertoire, De Vries says working with his new shaper, Elton Fursman of Hurricane Surfboards, has given him a fresh approach and is the move he hopes would take his surfing to the next level.
"When my previous shaper Clayton moved to Australia at the start of the year, I started working with Elton," said De Vries. "Hurricane is 100 percent behind me achieving my dream of qualifying for the WCT."
A top-three finish at the Mr Price Pro Ballito could make all the difference in De Vries's campaign, which means he will have his sights set on the podium from the moment he hits the water in Round 1 on Monday.
"I will not rest until I win the Mr Price Pro Ballito," he said. "This is the event I have my heart set on."