In the Surfing fraternity, Supertubes has earned a reputation as the fastest breaking right hander in the world. Situated in the town of Jeffreys Bay, 70kms south of Port Elizabeth, this has become the mecca for surfers worldwide. In the month of July each year the Billabong Pro contest is held at Supertubes Beach and attracts 10,000 spectators and worldwide TV coverage as the world’s top 44 surfers battle it out for prize money of over R3 million and precious points on the world surfing contest circuit. The near perfect waves break for up to a kilometre and peel down a rocky point at high speed in freezing cold water offering the thrill of a lifetime for surfing enthusiasts.
Cheron Kraak, the lady who built the Billabong empire in South Africa, generated and co-ordinated the famous Billabong Surfing contests every year at Super Tubes for over 25 years.
1976 World Champion, Shaun Tomson, won the first major open contest: The J.Bay Beach Hotel Classic held in 1981. There were 38 contestants and 10 of them were professionals.
“Because we love surfing and surfers,” says Cheron, “we started the Country Feeling Surf Classic contests. Shaun used to come and stay at my house whenever he flew in to J.Bay to ride Super Tubes. Winter after winter he would come to my house on the hill that overlooks Super Tubes. From my kitchen window you can see the line-up perfectly, it’s a view that still gets us stoked to this day! Many a surfer has stood there in awe, watching the corduroy lines peel off down the point.”
It was in 1984, that Super Tubes officially hit the world map as an ASP World Tour Event. Supers delivered 8ft perfect waves for 5 days and Occy delivered the vertical backhand attack that still has the world talking.
Cheron says, ”Since ‘84 the event has grown from strength to strength. Not only have we improved on the contest infrastructure, but we are now able to successfully stream the event footage globally, enabling a worldwide audience to share the moment. Some event highlights which stand out in my mind other than Occy’s backhand annihilation of the super’s line-up are, 18yr old wildcard Joel Parkinson’s victory in 1999, Kelly Slaters devastating form in 2003 where he posted the highest event and heat totals in his surfing career and Andy Irons victory in 2004 where he overcame his voodoo curse and proceeded to take his third world title later in the year. Australian Mick Fanning took the honours last year when he ousted Kelly Slater in an incredible display of power surfing in the final.”
Super Tubes has earned the reputation of being one of the fastest, most challenging right-hander breaks in the world. What better venue for surf contests! Last year the Billabong Pro World Championship Tour event offered almost R3,000,000 in prize money. This prestigious event is open only to the world’s top 44 surfers on the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Championship Tour.
It is a real spectacle for the South African public as it brings together the world’s best surfers to compete in one of the world’s best waves. The J-Bay event is one of only 12 events on this elite tour, which travels around the globe stopping only at its prime surfing locations.
“We have run the annual Country Feeling Classic every year since the initial event in 1982 which offered R5,000 in prize money and we have only missed 2 years in all that time.” smiles Cheron. “Billabong came onto the scene in 1984 and since then has been a major sponsor of this prime event. This year is going to be a real humdinger!”
DETAILED PHOTOS: HIFT. MARION PARSLOE
TEXT CREDITS: HIFT
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3 October 2012 7:51