ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) Event #5 of 12
Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
July 16 – 26, 2001
Jeffreys Bay next stop on surfing’s World Championship Tour
Jeffreys Bay, home of the legendary Supertubes surf break, will be the next stop on the 2002 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) when the world’s top 46 surfers jet into the Eastern Cape town for the R2.5 million (US $250 000) Billabong Pro in July.
Scheduled for July 16 – 26, an 11 day waiting period to ensure perfect conditions for the four full days of competition required to determine the winner, it is the fifth of 12 WCT events on what has been dubbed the ‘Dream Tour’ by the surfers, media and general public for the exotic venues and quality surf breaks it visits.
After phenomenal surf at the point breaks of the Gold Coast and Bells Beach in Australia and on the reefs of Tahiti and Fiji in the South Pacific, Andy Irons heads the current WCT ratings courtesy of his victories at Bells and Tahiti.
The Hawaiian, who celebrates his 24th birthday during the Billabong Pro, holds a solid 600 point lead over Florida’s Cory Lopez (25), who is in turn only 70 points ahead of his elder brother, Shea (28), in the race to be crowned the 2002 world surfing champion come December.
Veteran Australian campaigner, Luke Egan (32), a permanent fixture on the WCT since it was introduced in 1992, occupies fourth spot followed by reigning world champ CJ Hobgood (22), another of the Floridian contingent that have made such an impact in the top echelons of the sport in the last decade.
Mark Occhilupo, at 36 the oldest WCT competitor in history, Joel Parkinson, the winner of the tour opener in his home surf, and Michael Lowe, the Fiji champ, complete the current top eight, which features five Billabong team members in this trio of Australians plus Irons and Egan.
And lurking in the wings are the likes of Kelly Slater (Florida), the six time world champion in his comeback season after three years of semi-retirement and the winner of the 1996 J-Bay event and Jake Paterson, the Australian who has won the last two editions to become the first back to back winner since the inaugural contest in June 1983.
The South African challenge in the continent’s most lucrative surfing tournament will be presented by East London?s Greg Emslie and Paul Canning from Durban. Emslie reached the last eight at Supertubes last year and went on to claim a career best 20th spot in the year end WCT ratings while Canning will be focused on a good result at J-Bay after struggling to better 17th place in the first four events of 2002.
Another four locals – Brad Bricknell (Jeffreys Bay), Sean Holmes (Wilderness) and Durbanites Simon Nicholson and Travis Logie – have been given the opportunity to compete against the world’s best exponents when they contest the Von Zipper Trials against Australians Shaun Cansdell and Bede Durbidge, Che Stang (USA) and Danilo Costa (Brazil).
The trials will be staged on the opening day of the Billabong Pro with the top two finishers receiving wildcards into the country’s most prestigious surfing event.