BALLITO, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa (Wednesday, June 15, 2011) - South African surfing legend and South Africa's only world surfing champion Shaun Tomson (Santa Barbara, California) returns to Ballito in July to attend the world's longest running professional surfing event, the R 1.7 Million Mr Price Pro Ballito.
Formerly known as the Gunston 500, Tomson held a stranglehold on the trophy from 1973-1978 with six consecutive wins, including one in his world title year, 1977.
Although retired from the professional circuit since 1989, Tomson remains a prominent figure in the global surfing scene adding the strings of father, documentarian, author, environmentalist, business school graduate, motivational speaker, Iphone app creator and surfboard designer to his already feathered bow.
From July 1- 10, 2011 Tomson will throw himself into the thrills and spills of professional surfing at the event's new Ballito home, a town that holds a very important place in his heart.
"The KwaDukuza coastline offers great surf and as a young boy I spent a lot of time surfing with just a few friends on the beaches of Ballito so it has some wonderful memories for me," Tomson said.
Tomson shares a more recent memory - "With the death of my son Mathew, I dreaded going surfing again. Then about a month after he died a friend finally persuaded me and took me to a break I'd never surfed before in Ballito. Just the two of us in the water on a beautiful day. I paddled out, and I cried and cried and my tears were one with the salt water around me. I finally took a wave, and that ride started my path to healing. I asked my friend, "What's this break called?" "Sunrise," he said. "I smiled. I knew Mathew was close."
It is exactly this openness with which Tomson shares so much of what he has been through in both his life's sufferings and triumphs that makes him such an inspiration both in and out of the surf.
Tomson will play an invaluable role at this year's event, sharing his intimate knowledge of professional surfing on the commentary panel throughout the week as well as presenting the trophy to this year's champion, something he is very much looking forward to.
"Every surfer at some time in his career has that breakthrough moment," Tomson said. "I'm excited to watch the cream of South Africa's young surfers compete against some of the world's best and perhaps a new young superstar from South Africa will breakthrough and maybe go on to become the next Kelly Slater."
As part of his involvement with the 2011 Mr Price Pro Ballito, Tomson will also be screening his 2008 release 'Bustin' Down the Door' on July 7 at Willard Beach. The documentary won 2008 Surfer Poll's Movie of the Year award, chronicling a crucial turning point in professional surfing's history.
Tomson's legendary barrel riding ability will also be on display in the Mr Price Pro Legends Exhibition scheduled to take place on the final weekend (9 or 10 July 2011) where he will take on many of South African surfing's former greats.
"I'm looking forward to connecting with my old rivals and sharing some waves," Tomson said. "I'm not sure how much competitive fire we all have left but if the surf is firing you just never know what memories of our youth might bubble to the surface!"
For more information log on to www.mrpricepro.com.