Billabong Pro J-Bay Round 2 Held in Small But Perfect Conditions

Drama Ensues on Day 5 After Kelly and Bobby are Officially “No Shows”

Monday, July 18th – After two lay days, the Billabong Pro J-Bay proceeded with Round 2 after a lengthy debate between contest organizers and the surfer’s representatives. While watching the sets peel down the iconic pointbreak at dawn, the crew and cast of the event could not make a decision to run until a full 2 hours and 45 minutes after the first call at 7:00 am. The lead surfer’s rep., Kieren Perrow, was out-voted 2-to1 by his counterparts after deliberating over the inconsistent, but perfect, 2-3 foot waves.

Even small Jeffrey's Bay is better than most surf found in contests around the world. The competitors were stoked to have a crack at it.

While the sets were completely contestable, long lulls in between the good waves forced contest organizers to add an extra 10 minutes to the heat times. This allowed for the competitors to have a chance to surf at least two decent sets per heat, and was a wise decision. A bleak forecast has plagued this year’s event, and the promising swell at the end of the two week waiting period has been pushed back a day to only allow two days of surf on the horizon. To finish at  least half of the 12 heat round was crucial today in order to give the latter rounds of the contest a better chance at running in the best conditions possible.

This year’s ASP event at J-Bay has had its share of drama. Dane Reynolds opting out of the contest a week before the start date was the first shocker. Especially after seeing plenty of video of him on the web surfing pretty solid on his recovering knee. His manager said that Dane gave “no excuses” as to why he wouldn’t be entering the event. But, rumor has it that he headed to Japan with Yadin Nicol to catch the giant Typhoon Ma-on swell that’s lighting up the many rivermouths in the Land of the Rising Sun. It seems that he doesn’t care about anything, which adds to his marketability.

Then, just as the first day of competition gets underway, Kelly Slater and Bobby Martinez were no shows. Of course, every one saw Slater’s antics in maxing Fiji on the internet, and knew exactly where he was with his constant tweeting. Unfortunately, Slater did not have enough class or respect to contact the ASP about his decision to stay for the swell of a lifetime at Cloudbreak until his Round 1 heat had finished without him. No matter what Slater’s opinions of the ASP are, it was a very disrespectful move towards the hungry wildcards waiting in the wings.

The gallery looks on as a fun set rolls through just after dawn.

And as for Bobby? Well, it’s no secret that Bobby has had his share of bitter moments with the ASP over the past year and a half. But when looking at the numbers, he had just posted his best result in two years and seemed to be gaining momentum while surfing better than ever. The ASP had no contact with Bobby until Sunday, when ASP manager Renato Hickel gave word that Bobby was trying to make his Round 2 elimination heat. He had no chance of making it, as LAX to South Africa is about the longest flight on earth. Ironically, Bobby seems to be turning his back on what he is best at, competitive surfing. I think everyone would like to see Bobby just having fun, and ripping in the events. His over-the-top rants and frustrations towards the ASP only come off as sour grapes to the fans of the Tour.

With all the hype of if Kelley would make it laid to rest, the competitors were set loose and let sparks fly during the opening heats of Round 2. Slater’s replacement, Saffa Goofy-foot Travis Logie, surfed precise and quick in the shoulder high surf. You could tell he was taking advantage of the last minute entry as he smoked the younger wildcard Shaun Payne with vicious backside snaps.

South African Travis Logie was amped to finally get the slot in Round 2 after Kelly didn't show up. Travis advanced over Shaun Payne.

Taj Burrow was up next against Saffa giant killer Sean Holmes. With the conditions favoring Taj’s small wave attack, this heat was over before it started. If the waves were bigger, which promotes rail carving and barrel riding, Sean would have been a serious threat to give Taj a second 25th place finish in only four events. But it was not to be. Taj dismantled the first set wave with a ferocity that I have not seen from him this season. He will be hard to beat if he keeps it up.

Taj looked sharp on his forehand, and attacked this wave with a variety of critical manuevers.

Bede Durbidge faced Bobby’s replacement Shaun Joubert in Heat #3. The young South African Joubert put up a good fight against Durbidge, but Bede was surfing solid and found his familiar winning form after a slow start to the season. Looking at his results for the first three events, you can see that Bede is on the rise, and wants to be back in the title race.

Bede Durbidge used his competitive savvy to pick off the best waves of his heat.

In a highly anticipated Heat #4, the world got to see the condition of Adriano De Souza’s recent knee injury. Apparently, Adriano’s rehabilitation is going well as he surfed with his usual incredible speed and agility to take the win over a ripping Gabe Kling. Gabe will be fighting to stay on tour for the next few events after another equal 25th place at J-Bay.

World #1 Adriano De Souza surfed with power and confidence in his Round 2 heat versus Gabe Kling. It was De Souza's first heat win since his victory at the Billabong Rio Pro over 7 weeks ago.

A battle of the Goofy-foots was on with Owen Wright and Fred Patacchia in Heat #5, and Adrian Buchan and Cory Lopez in Heat #6. Freddy P looked like he would take out 2010 Rookie of the Year Wright in the wave-starved heat until with only 20 seconds left, his luck ran out. Owen snagged a chest high runner that allowed for 7 maneuvers in rapid succession and took the win from under an in form Patacchia. The Buchan and Lopez heat was an example of opposite extremes as Adrian posted the highest heat score of the day (15.80), while Lopez posted the second lowest (6.50). Buchan’s first wave in the opening minutes put Cory in jeopardy from the get go, and clearly left him looking for that magic wave that never came.

Owen Wright nabbed this wave in the dying seconds to take the win over fellow Goofy-foot Fred Patacchia.

When competition resumes, Heats 7 through 12 will complete Round 2, and eliminate 6 more surfers from the event. Check back for detailed descriptions of the action. With the swell forecast looking meager for the next few days, the event will likely be on hold until the next pulse of swell enters the region on Thursday.  – Ryan Richardson

Hopefully J-Bay will continue with this small pulse of swell tomorrow before backing down until the end of the week. It's not looking good though. The contest will most likely resume on Thursday.

Heat 7:
Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 9: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 11: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)

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