Amidst of a flurry of preseason announcements in recent weeks, the Association of Surfing Professionals has announced a last-minute schedule change to the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour. The tour will now include the J-Bay Open, which will take place at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, from July 10-20. The contest will replace the short-lived Bali Pro.
"It's only fitting that one of the world's premiere waves provides the canvas for the world's premiere surfers again," ASP CEO Paul Speaker said in a statement to the press. "Jeffreys Bay has an incredible heritage with the sport and the local community have been instrumental in returning the ASP Top 34 to South Africa this season."
A key component to the "Dream Tour" concept of putting the best surfers in the best waves, the contest at J-Bay, formerly the Billabong Pro South Africa, lost its world tour status after the 2011 season and was subsequently downgraded to a world qualifying event. Widely considered to be one of the best right-hand pointbreaks in the world, the venue has been sorely missed by competitors. World champions such as Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning are all former winners at J-Bay and have all lamented its loss from the schedule.
"The fact that J-Bay is back on?! Well it's about damn time!" said two-time event winner Jordy Smith. "I am really excited that the event is back on. It's by far the best stop on the tour for quality of high performance surfing. It's arguably the best righthand point in the world and deserves a spot on the WCT. I'm proud to be a South African and to have one of the 'CT spots be in our backyard. It means a lot to our country and the town of Jeffreys Bay. I'm sure the people are going to be really happy to see the event return."
The Bali Pro survived only one year as an ASP World Tour event. In 2013 Joel Parkinson won the event, which was held in fantastic conditions at a reef break called Keramas.
The ASP World Tour kicks off the 2014 season with the Quiksilver Pro Australia, beginning March 1.