JEFFREYS BAY is bursting at the seams as more than 144 surfers and their entourages have descended on the town.
While the conditions at the start of the Billabong Pro J-Bay yesterday were very promising, accommodation in and around the world-renowned Supertubes was filled to capacity.
Other accommodation establishments in town are also believed to be well booked up. Restaurants and supermarkets are reporting a marked upswing in trade, and by this coming weekend business should boom even more, said businessman Pieter Hancke.
Hancke is the owner of Mentors Country Estate where the 5FM Billabong Pro Music Festival will be held from Friday to Sunday.
“Tickets for the event are flying, the entire town should be benefiting,” said Hancke, adding that he was in awe of all the preparations as the biggest stage he has ever seen is being erected at the music venue.
An added bonus for festival-goers is a free shuttle which will operate day and night between the surfing at Supers and the music festival at Mentors.
The festival organiser, Lloyd Cornwall, said a deal had been negotiated with Vodacom.
“Vodacom has sent masses of SMSes all over the country to attract spectators and are erecting a free Wi-fi cloud which will ensure festival-goers the use of all electronic devices.
“The entire site is under a marquee that can house up to 12000 people, so come rain or shine the music will continue,” said Cornwall.
Free camping on the site will also be permitted.
Billabong SA general manager, Ernest Bendeman is also very pleased with matters on the surfing front.
“We have a full field, in fact we had 163 entrants vying for 144 available spots. Thirteen of the world’s top 32 are confirmed, and from a South African perspective, it will be great to see if Jordy Smith can make it three in a row.”
Bendeman said although some people were upset when the Pro was downgraded, they have always been confident of a quality field due to the nature of the event, and the fact that it was at one of the most iconic breaks in surfing, during the height of the wave season.
He believes the event is bigger this year due to the number of international and South African surfers competing – 144 in total – which means five full days of surfing across a six day window.
“We also have the 5FM Music Festival which is going to be amazing, so from a surfing and music perspective the public will get to see the best on offer in our country,” he said.
Bendeman added that the swell charts are looking great.
“It has been solid and consistent this year, so we are hoping it will set the stage for everybody to see world class, high performance surfing.”
He thanked everybody for supporting the event and said he trusted that the surfing and music experience will be memorable.