SA surfers head overseas as 2013 ASP season gets underway in Hawaii, China, Puerto Rico and Australia
South Africa’s hot young crop of aspiring professional surf stars are heading for all points of the compass as the 2013 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) season gets underway with Star rated events for men in Hawaii and China next week followed by further contests in Australia and Puerto Rico during February.
While the world’s top 34 ranked men and top 17 women only commence the race for the 2013 ASP World Titles on Australia’s Gold Coast early in March, the 11-day waiting period for the 5-Star rated Volcom Pipe Pro starts on Sunday 27 January at Pipeline in Hawaii.
Dale Staples from St Francis Bay, who finished 2012 at No.101 on the ASP Men’s World Rankings, is the sole South African in the 112-man field which is headed by defending event champion and current ASP No. 4, John John Florence (HAW).
Meanwhile four Saffas will participate in the second edition of the 4-Star rated Hainan Classic which runs at Riyuewan Bay on the tropical Chinese island of Hainan from 28-30 January. Kommetjie based brothers, Davey and Benji Brand, and Remi Peterson (Jeffreys Bay) will start in the Round of 96 in China with David van Zyl (Glenashley) seeded directly into the Round of 64.
After China, van Zyl travels to Australia for the 4-Star rated Breaka Burleigh Pro at the iconic Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast of Queensland. There he will be joined by Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) in the Round of 96 with Mikey February (Kommetjie) on the alternates list for the event, which runs from 3-10 February.
The women’s event at the Breaka Burleigh Pro is a one of just six 6-Star rated events on the ASP Women’s Star tour and has attracted a powerful field including four South Africans. The Saffa contingent is headed by Bianca Buitendag who won 6-Star events in Peru and the Azores last year, resulting in the 19 year-old from George qualifying as the only newcomer amongst the top 17 for the 2013 ASP Women’s World Tour.
Compatriots Sarah Baum (Athlone Park), who was in contention for a spot on the Women’s World Tour herself last year, and former top-tier campaigner Rosy Hodge (East London) will start alongside Buitendag in the Round of 48 in the US $40 000 event with Faye Zoetmulder (Port Elizabeth) opening her challenge one round earlier.
The Brand brothers and Peterson head for the Caribbean after China where they will be joined by California based former Mossel Bay standout Shaun Joubert in the 4-Star Rip Curl Pro Puerto Rico from 9-13 February.
Joubert, 21, ended 2012 ranked No. 95 and will benefit from being one of the top 10 seeds in Puerto Rico as he seeks to maintain a top 100 ranking that guarantees entry into the 6-Star and Prime events with their lucrative prize-money and higher rankings points.
After the Caribbean, Joubert heads for Australia where he and No. 94 ranked Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) along with February, van Zyl and Sawyer will contest the 6-Star, US $155 000 Burton Toyota Pro at Merewether beach in Newcastle from 18-24 February.
The Newcastle event sees the first competitive appearance of the year for newly crowned ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson.(AUS) and a dozen more of the world’s top 32 ranked surfers.
Sawyer and van Zyl will also compete against more than 100 international surfers aged 20-and-under in the 2-Star Burton Toyota Pro Junior.
The 6-Star Hunter Ports Women’s Classic, which runs in conjunction with the men’s event at Newcastle, presents a second opportunity for the South African quartet of Buitendag, Baum, Hodge and Zoetmulder to accumulate additional cash and rankings points.
While the quality of the women’s field has been strengthened by the entry of five-time ASP Women’s World Champion, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), who makes her first foray into competition for the year, Buitendag will be encouraged by her results in the beach break waves at Merewether last year where she placed 3rd in the women’s event and won the Pro Junior women’s crown.
The respective men’s and women’s ASP World Championship Tours (WCT) then take centre stage as the $450 000 Quiksilver Pro and the $120 000 Roxy Pro, both presented by Land Rover, run side-by-side from 2-13 March on Australia’s Gold Coast.
South Africa’s Jordy Smith, 24, is determined to improve on his No.12 ranking after an inconsistent 2012 season while Travis Logie, 33, will be looking to build on his career best No.21 ranking after having to re-qualify for the top tier via the Star events a couple of years back.
Bianca Buitendag faces a baptism of fire as the only rookie of the 2013 women’s WCT as she has never before competed at this level, However, a stellar qualifying campaign in 2012 saw her defeat a number of the established campaigners in her first full year on tour and end the year No. 2 in the women’s Star rankings.
Now a year older, wiser, stronger and more confident, Buitendag looks set to not only hold her own, but to upset her more experienced opponents in any conditions.
For more information, including the full schedule of ASP events, surfer profiles, news and results, visit www.aspworldtour.com
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About ASP: The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the recognized world governing body of professional surfing and has been crowning surfing’s undisputed World Champions since 1976. The ASP sanctions and crowns World Champions for the following tours: the ASP World Tour, the ASP Women’s World Tour, ASP World Junior Tour, ASP World Longboard and Masters Championships. The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts and other media platforms. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Japan, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.