Jeffreys Bay axed from tour

2012-02-24 11:20

Gold Coast – It is comparable to tennis losing Wimbledon from its schedule. Or the US Masters being stripped of its status as a golf major.

The Association of Surfing Professionals announced on Friday that one of the jewels in its crown, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, will not be part of the world championship race this year.

The contest has been downgraded due to the financial difficulties of the Billabong company. The Australian surf-wear company announced earlier this month it was cutting jobs and shutting shops.

The event will be run as a six-star contest, the level below the main tour.

The loss of a marquee part of the tour increases the likelihood that world champion Kelly Slater will retire from fulltime competition, sooner rather than later. Jeffreys Bay was one of his favourite stops on tour.

In a statement released by the ASP, Billabong said: "The change in event status follows a broader review in which we are seeking to identify cost savings throughout the business. By retaining an event at Jeffreys Bay, it now provides two qualifying events back to back in the South African region.

"The move to an ASP six-Star also opens the event up to South Africa's aspiring pro surfers for the first time in 20 years and ensures continuity of the event for the local businesses in Jeffreys Bay."

The scheduling change means the men's world title will be held over 10 contests instead of 11.

"We agreed as a board that whilst very regrettable, the commercial realities are such that a pragmatic approach by ASP at this time seemed sensible," said ASP chairman Richard Grellman.

"Billabong have been long-time supporters of professional surfing and still sponsor three of the 10 world championship tour events and we look forward to our deep relationship with them continuing."

Slater is contesting the season-opening Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast. First-round heats of the men's contest, and the Roxy Pro for women, are scheduled to begin tomorrow.

American Lisa Andersen, the women's world champion from 1994 to 1997, failed to make the main draw after being eliminated in the first round of the trials on Friday. The mother of two was attempting a comeback at the age of 42.


  • CapeChappy - 2012-02-24 11:37

    Well that sucks... why not rather cut one of the events with worse surf conditions or less support??

      dono - 2013-01-30 17:55

      Or just get one of the big boys i.e quiksilver, oneil, volcom to sponsor it from now on.

  • Wade - 2012-02-24 11:37

    epic fail...and as for it being one of Kelly's favourite about last year when he chose free surfing over JBay???

      Eugene - 2012-02-24 14:05

      True - he tweeted earlier that the World Tour just got easier for Goofy footers. Such a tosser actually.

  • Brian - 2012-02-24 11:49

    This is an absolute disaster. Why don't the ASP guys offer it to another sponsor? If Billabong can't afford it then offer it to someone else, it should not be allowed to be downgraded because the sponsor can't hold onto it. I can't believe South Africa doesn't have a world championship event this year, that is just crazy. All South African surfers should unite together and boycott Billabong completely, if they can't sponsor our event then stuff them!!!!!

  • Darren - 2012-02-24 11:50

    Guess I won't be visiting JBay this year…pitty. - 2012-02-25 15:57

      oh you don't surf then!!

      cindy.liebenberg - 2012-02-26 11:06

      you clearly not a surfer

  • Eugene - 2012-02-24 12:01

    Worst decision ever.... Jbay delivered the best surfing conditions and crowds year in year out on tour. Billabong reached over 500 000 people via live webcam for Jbay 2 years ago!! Must have been close to 750 000 last year when Jordy won.

      Eugene - 2012-02-24 13:17

      Agree Bob - will also stop buying Billabong. Rather support local surf companies in SA (Reef, Lizzard, Dutchie, Spider, etc list is endless!!.)

  • jean.elgato - 2012-02-24 13:16

    hahah I lkie the comment "well i wont be visiting J bay this year" as a surfer I say good one less in the water. This speaks volumes to me as to the respect that large surf brands have for the places people beaches and breaks that they exploit, rater than support honest to god hard working surfer like the wonderful people in j bay they would plow money into larger customer bases such as thedismal brazil leg of the ASP its all about the money and has nothing to do with the ove of the sport that birthed them. To be fair the honest hard working people in J bay are the ones that will miss out on much needed income and the plight of the thyspunt nuclear reactor could be lost to top it all off. This after the years of service the tow has given surfing and the world a pitty and a shame. The flip side is that being a 6 star event might help our local guys actually make a little head way in the wct and maybe help the long suffering locals out by not havin a million and one kooks invade evrytime there is a swell maybe there willonly be a million now

  • Warren Carne - 2012-02-24 13:45

    BillaPong!!!,This is terrible news.

  • christian.schlebach - 2012-02-24 14:28

    Looking for unknown self sponsored team riders.HOOLEY Live Wrong

  • Joanita - 2012-02-25 07:41

    Utterly horrible news. Some two years ago the Billabong "franchise" was bought back by Australia from Sharon Kraak, the woman who made Billabong one of the big names on the SA clothing and surfing scene. We visit J-Bay two or three times a year, and Billabong's financial difficulties do not surprise me at all. It's a crying shame that a major event such as the Billabong Pro has to suffer because of a "clever" new management. It's not doing the town any good either.

  • Trevor - 2012-02-25 07:54

    Billabong was sold what a year ago, now it's broke...??...but listen, forget living in the past, when last have most of you been to JBay??? The town is a shadow of it's former glory, every year it gets nastier and nastier...just goto the middle of old town and see the absolute CRAP buildings that have destroyed Jbays Character...the roads have completely fallen apart, they have weeky water shortages ALL YEAR ROUND...sorry but time has moved on and JBay has been milked DRY by developers who have destroyed it. Even Supertubes, that whole coastline from Kitchens all the way down was an AMAZING surf area, you could walkall day and CHOOSE what you wanna's a filthy dump of a town...

      Hallo - 2012-02-25 13:15


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