The Challenger Series is the ultimate battleground for surfers fighting to qualify for a spot on the 2023 Championship Tour (CT). Across the eight international events, the fields of 96 men and 64 women battle for one of the 10 men's and five women's coveted spots at the top level of the sport.
The Ballito Pro pres. by O’Neill will be the third stop on the Challenger Series and will see more than 15 countries represented across the board.
The men’s field is stacked with former Ballito Pro champions Adin Masencamp (Cape Town) and Jordy Smith (Durban), Alejo Muniz (Argentina) and Deivid Silva (Brazil). It also features Championship Tour surfers such as Conner Coffin (USA) and Ezekiel Lau (Hawaii) and up-and-coming rookies like Rio Waida (IDN) who won the previous CS event, the Sydney Surf Pro.
In the women’s draw, former Ballito Pro champions Zoe Steyn (East London) and Sarah Baum (Durban) will come up against some fierce international competition. The winner of the second CS at the Sydney Surf Pro, Teresa Bonvalot will hope to ride the momentum into Ballito - but don’t underestimate surfers Molly Picklum (Australia), Bronte Macaulay (Australia) and the exciting Hawaiian crew of Luana Silva, Bettylou Sakura-Johnson and the queen of pipeline, Moana Jones-Wong.
Junior men and women will get their chance to prove themselves in the O’Neill SMTH Shapes Pro Junior WSL Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 event taking place 2-3 July 2022 before the start of the Challenger Series.
The top local men and women surfers, who did not qualify for the Challenger Series, will get another chance to earn a spot in the main competition with the Ballito Pro Trials. The winners will claim the WSL wildcard entry into the Ballito Pro Challenger Series.
“WSL Africa is excited to be hosting one of the blue-ribbon events on the Challenger Series. The opportunity to see the best women surfers alongside the men makes this such a unique event for Africa. Our sincere thanks to the KwaDukuza Municipality, O’Neill South Africa, event management and the many sponsors for making this the premier event for Africa. I am positive, like always, that many of these surfers will go on to become household names in the world of surfing over the next few years,” said WSL Africa operations manager Colin Fitch.
Paul Canning, brand manager of Sector Group at O’Neill, said, “On behalf of O’Neill, we are extremely honoured and proud to be involved in the Ballito Pro again this year and would like to thank the KwaDukuza Municipality for all their support in surfing and raising the event to the elite Challenger Series status.”
The Ballito Pro will continue to host developmental surf contests and the KZN High Schools contests.
The surfing competitions will be supported by an exciting festival programme featuring music, arts, recreational beach activities and extreme sports – all the while showcasing the best tourism and hospitality experiences the region has to offer.
All applicable Covid-19 related government guidelines and restrictions will be adhered to.