ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) Event #6 of 12
Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
15 25 July 2003
Four South Africans in VZ Wildcard Trials at Jeffreys Bay
Four South Africans have been invited to compete in the Von Zipper Wildcard Trials that will determine the wildcards for the prestigious R2 million Billabong Pro, a World Championship Tour (WCT) surfing event scheduled for Jeffreys Bay from 15 25 July 2003.
The four 2002 giant-killer Sean Holmes (Wilderness), former WCT campaigner Greg Emslie (EL) and debutants Warwick Wright and Ricky Basnett, the ISA world junior champion and runner-up respectively, both from Durban will be the only locals in the event as, for the first time in four years, no SA surfers qualified for the 2003 WCT at the end of 2002.
The VZ trials sees the local contingent pitted against four highly rated emerging international stars Adrian Ace Buchan and Bede Durbidge from Australia, Californian Che Stang and Tiago Pires from Portugal in two 30 minute heats featuring four competitors each.
Just the winner of each heat and the higher scoring of the two second placed competitors will earn the three wildcards to compete against the worlds 45 highest rated surfers at Supertubes, universally acknowledged as one of the worlds top 10 surfing venues.
Its a great honour to be given another chance in the Von Zipper Trials, said a humble Sean Holmes after his stellar performances last year saw him win a VZ wildcard and then go on to eliminate the top two seeds on his way to a fifth place finish in the WCT event.
Hopefully a couple of us can earn wildcards and fly the SA flag in the Billabong Pro, he retorted on his chances of a repeat of last years heroics, adding Im really glad the youngsters have been given a shot at a wildcard. I was given an opportunity when I was a youngster and learnt plenty from the experience of surfing against the worlds best competitors, in reference to teenagers Wright and Basnetts inclusion in the trials event.
The Von Zipper Wildcard Trials will be staged on the first day of competition at the Billabong Pro, which has an 11-day waiting period to enable the contest director, legendary big wave surfer Mike Parsons (California), to select the optimum conditions in which to stage the seven rounds and approximately 33 hours of competition required to determine the champion.
The two half-hour VZ trials heats will be followed by a short break during which the wildcards will be presented to the three recipients before the first heat of round one of the Billabong Pro commences, with the wildcard holders likely to come up against the top three seeds in heats 8, 9 and 10 later that day.
All the action from the Billabong Pro will be streamed live on the Internet at www.billabongpro.com through webcasts that are being touted as the best ever produced for surfing events. These productions include three camera angles, live commentary and scoring, replays of rides, a fan club and email messages from around the planet broadcast over the event PA system and the web.
A similar website for the recent Billabong Pro in Tahiti attracted more than 220 000 unique visitors and over 1500 emails on each day of competition. And, according to production team, the webcasts for the J-Bay event are going to be even better and will break more new ground with roving cameras, live interviews and the like.
Those who prefer to meet their surfing heroes in the flesh will also be catered for at a high profile autograph signing session attended by reigning world champion and current WCT ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw), 1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo (Aus), 1999 Billabong Pro winner Joel Parkinson (Aus) and standouts Luke Egan, Taj Burrow, both from Australia, Shane Dorian (Haw) and Danilo Costa (Brazil).
They will be joined by the four South Africans invited to the Von Zipper Wildcard Trials at the Billabong Shop in Jeffreys Bay starting at 6pm on Saturday 19 July to sign any article visitors to the event may bring along.
The 2003 Billabong Pro is the sixth of 12 events on ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) that determines the annual world surfing champion. The event offers US $250 000 (approximately R2 million) in total prize-money, of which R240 000 goes to the winner, making it the most prestigious, and most lucrative, surfing tournament to be staged on the African continent annually.
Issued on behalf of:
Billabong South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 42 200 2600
Fax: +27 (0) 42 293 2478
Compiled and issued by:
Lifes a Beach Communications
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
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