They say life starts at 40, and if this truly is the case then this year’s edition of the Mr. Price Pro is set to be the best yet. Founded in 1969, the event formerly known as the Gunston 500, has brought the world’s top surfers to Durban’s shores for four decades and 2008 will be no different.
Over 200 international surfers are set to converge at New Pier Beach for the ninth edition of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Mr. Price Pro, which kicks off from June 27-July 6, 2008.
Marking the halfway stage on the prestigious ASP WQS (the qualifier for the top tier ASP World Tour), the 6-Star rated Mr. Price Pro will see tensions running high as surfers contend for valuable ASP ratings points and a spot among the world’s Top 45 surfers at the end of the year.
Sunny Garcia (HAW), 1992 Gunston 500 Champion and 2000 ASP World Champion, has been granted a wildcard entry into this year’s Mr. Price Pro and will be gunning for a solid result in the hope to return to top tier competition.
“I’m in training everyday so I can do well on the WQS this year,” Garcia said. “It’s awesome to come back to Durban and I always look forward to surfing and hanging out with my friends here.”
Among the list of high-profile surfers like Garcia, planning to make their mark in Durban next month are 2006 Mr. Price Pro champion Durbanite Ricky Basnett (ZAF), last year’s winner Jihad Khodr (BRA) as well as whole host of Durban’s most accomplished wave riders – former ASP World Junior Champion and current World No. 19 Jordy Smith (ZAF), former ASP World Tour campaigner Davey Weare (ZAF), current ASP WQS campaigner Antonio Bortoletto (ZAF) and current World No. 41 Travis Logie (ZAF).
Greg Emslie (ZAF), former ASP World Tour campaigner and Mr, Price Pro finalist, and current World No. 35 Royden Bryson (ZAF) lead a talented field of national surfers planning to make the pilgrimage to Durban this July.
The Mr. Price Pro forms one of three ASP WQS events staged in Durban each year, but is unique in that it is the only such event to incorporate three individual events under one ‘umbrella’, including the only ASP WQS 5-Star Women’s event in Africa.
Introduced back in 1992, the women’s division forms part of the fiercely competitive ASP WQS Women’s Tour, boasting a prize a healthy prize purse as well as valuable ASP ratings points.
South African stars such as World No. 11 Rosy Hodge, ASP WQS No. 19 Tammy Lee Smith (Balitto), ASP WQS No. 23 Nikita Robb and current ASP World Masters Champion Heather Clark will join a host of international female surfers in the nationally renowned New Pier waves.
In 2001, the Mr. Price Pro extended its reach even further to include many of South Africa’s best junior surfers by providing them with their very own event, the ASP Grade-3 Mr. Price Pro Junior. Klee Strachan (ZAF) and Nikita Robb (ZAF) will defend their crowns at this year’s event.
According to ASP Africa Operations Manager, Capetonian Colin Fitch, “The Mr. Price Pro has established itself as one of the premier events on the ASP WQS globally and is an invaluable platform for local surfers who are hoping to qualify for the ASP World Tour.”
Mr. Price invites not only the world’s best surfers but beach lovers and water sport fanatics to join in the action on Durban’s Golden Mile, promising a week of thriving beach culture as well as the outdoor lifestyle which epitomizes the Red and Mr Price brand.