At the Ballito Pro 2021 launch yesterday were, from left, surfer Nate Colby, Sisonke Ndumndum, from Surfers Not Streechildren and a judge at this year’s Ballito Pro, Sarah Ferguson, founder of Breathe Conservation and SA ultra-swimmer; and Bongani Xulu, Surfing SA vice president. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)
At the Ballito Pro 2021 launch yesterday were, from left, surfer Nate Colby, Sisonke Ndumndum, from Surfers Not Streechildren and a judge at this year’s Ballito Pro, Sarah Ferguson, founder of Breathe Conservation and SA ultra-swimmer; and Bongani Xulu, Surfing SA vice president. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Surf’s Up for Ballito Pro 2021

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Nov 20, 2021

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BUILDING up to the 2022 surfing season, the Ballito Pro 2021 will see top surfers jetting in from around Africa for December 9 to 19 event.

At the launch breakfast in Ballito yesterday, Surfing SA vice president Bongani Xulu said competitors from countries such as Morocco, Mozambique and Senegal, would join top SA surfers from across the country for what is known as a premier event on the KZN sporting calendar.

The surfing industry has taken a hard knock because of the Covid pandemic, Xulu said: “We had to shut down ‒ while surfing is a non-contact sport, surf events will attract large crowds.

“But we are very happy to be up and running again and to do what we love, which is surfing,” he said.

Surfing SA will host the 55th edition of the Surfing South Africa Championships at Ballito Pro, which determines the SA Men’s and Women’s Champions.

Sector Group’s brand director (O’Neill Surf) Paul Canning said that with surfing and skateboarding competing for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, both sports were growing “at an incredible pace” and both feature at this year’s event.

He also confirmed that SA surf star Jordy Smith would be at the competition. Smith had to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics because of a knee injury.

While the surfing action will take centre stage, the revamped Ballito Bowl is expected to host some high energy skateboarding with the Ballito Pro Skate Competition.

A host of activities are being planned throughout the 10-day festival, from sunrise yoga and pilates, daily fashion shows and dance displays, as well as virtual reality rides, including “Santa and Surf”.

There will also be loads of “after dark entertainment” at venues such as Mike’s Kitchen and Yami’s, with shisanyama at the Gidela Lounge.

Founder of Breathe Conservation, ultra swimmer and world record holder Sarah Ferguson will host environmental awareness activities, from a guided marine walk to a snorkel pop-up day.

There will also be surfboard displays and shaping, arts and crafts exhibitions, sandcastle building, a beach dash and the Ballito Village Sunset Festival.

All activities and events have been spaced to ensure strict adherence to Covid protocols.

KwaDukuza municipal manager Nhlanhla Mdakane said the Ballito Pro 2021 would be one of the municipality’s key tourism recovery elements, being the ”launching pad for our digital destination marketing strategy focusing on attracting domestic and international tourism“.

The Ballito Pro 2019 attracted an estimated global audience of 100 million viewers across all platforms, with about 180 000 domestic visitors.

World Surf League regional manager Colin Fitch said: “South Africa’s young surfers are hungry to make an impact on the Qualifying Series and a good result at this prestigious event could catapult you into the big league.”

One of the judges this year, Sisonke Ndumndum from Surfers Not Streetchildren, said: “There’s definitely lots of potential among SA’s young surfers who will be coming through in the next few years.

“Covid has changed the surf scene and we haven’t had a lot of events, but the level of surfing hasn”t dropped, if anything it’s growing. South Africa has some of the best surf spots to run international events,” he said.

The Independent on Saturday

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