Brasilian Jesse Mendes was one of the star performers in the 2011 Mr Price Pro Ballito with the goofy footer who hails from Sao Paulo scoring a ten point ride enroute to the quarter-finals. PICTURE: © KELLY CESTARI / MR PRICE
SURFERS from as far a field as Hawaii, Brasil, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Guadeloupe, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, Holland, Spain, and the Canary Islands will compete in what promises to be yet another memorable event on the South African surfing calendar.
Of the most dominant surfing nations at the event is Brasil. Equaling the USA for the highest number of wins per country, Brasilian surfers have clinched four out of 12 titles since the inaugural Mr Price Pro in 2000.
Flamboyant, determined and passionate, Brasilian surfers Petersen Rosa (2002), Beta Fernandes (2002), Neco Padaratz (2003) and Jihad Khodr (2007) have each clinched emotional victories on the Durban beachfront.
With a total of 12 out of the 93 entered surfers, hailing from Brasil, including four elite World Tour campaigners, 2012 could be the year a Brasilian clinches the title in Ballito.
Leading the field is current ASP World No. 4, the highest ranked surfer in the year’s event Adriano De Souza.
At 25, De Souza is the undeniable ‘godfather’ of Brasilian surfing. A celebrity in Brasil with plenty of hometown support, De Souza shot into the limelight when he showed himself as a challenger for the ASP World Title in 2011.
The first Brasilian to hold down the World No 1 position, De Souza claimed two elite tour wins in 2011 (Rip Curl Pro Portugal and Billabong Pro Rio) and has been both an inspiration and guiding light to younger compatriots.
Surfing in Ballito on his very first trip to South Africa, De Souza has fond memories of the KwaDukuza coastline and is eager return to the hallowed barrels of Surfers Beach.
“I surfed Balito when I was 13-years-old and I loved it,” De Souza said. “I watched the contest online last year and it looked like Ballito produced some unreal waves. I am excited to be competing here this year I hope the waves produce another amazing contest.”
Yet to clinch a title in South Africa, De Souza will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen next month.
“I think the previous champions Peterson Rosa, Jihad Khodr and Beto Fernandes have put us in a good position at this event, their achievements have given me the confidence to do well. Brasilian surfers live off great momentum so it’s a good time to be following this road with the new Brasilian talent that has come through.”
World No. 19 Alejo Muniz, World No. 29 Jadson Andre and World No. 36 William Cardosa are other elite campaigners hailing from Brasil and hoping to make their mark in Ballito.
Power-carver and new school aerialist Muniz, is a respected member of the latest breed of young, up-an-coming Brasilian surf stars pushing the boundaries of performance surfing at elite level. With a quarterfinal finish in Rio, Muniz is steadily garnering respect as one of surfing’s finest and is pitted to excel in anything from three meter barrels to punchy, one meter peaks in Ballito.
Andre weighs in as a former elite tour victor, defeating Kelly Slater before a home crowd in Imbituba in 2010. Andre’s passion for winning, combined with his tricky aerial mastery makes him a firm favourite amongst the Brasilian camp going into this event.
William Cardosa’s unmistakable power will see him a standout in bigger surf, employing a solid repertoire of traditional surfing in the hope to achieve results.
ASP World Junior Champion Caio Ibelli is another name to look out for on this year’s draw. The up-and-coming talent has proved to be a force on the junior circuit and it wont be long before he makes his mark at professional level.
Honing their skills on the shorter, faster, punchier waves, Brasilian surfers are renowned for being able to pull off big moves in a really short space, making them dangerous competitors right up until the very last second of a heat.
With an increase in WQS events in Brasil from Fernando Noronha in the north to Rio de Janeiro in the south, not to mention a rise in professional sports specialists and increased emphasis on surf coaching, Brasilian surfers seem to be covering all their bases in their quest to be the best on the ASP World Tour.
In addition, Brasilian surfers are travelling more than ever and are gaining confidence that they can clinch a trophy at any stop on tour.
With Ballito offering the perfect canvas for the full spectrum of tricks and power surfing, you can rest assured that the Brasilian contingent will throw down big some scores in keeping all well entertained at the Mr Price Pro Ballito!
The Mr Price Pro Ballito runs concurrently with a Beach Festival with free concerts on the beach at Salt Rock (July 6 and 7) with 14 of South Africa’s leading bands featuring in the line-up making the Mr Price Pro Ballito the biggest surf, beach and lifestyle event on the African continent.