Jordy Smith Wins At Billabong Pro J-Bay in Challenging Conditions
Saffa Ripper Defends J-Bay Title and Moves to 2nd Place in World Title Race
Sunday, July 24 – South African surf-star and title contender Jordy Smith made the race for the ASP World Title get a bit more interesting with his win at the Billabong Pro J-Bay last Sunday. He narrowly defeated a firing Mick Fanning to take the win in stormy, over-head surf. The maxing crowd was out in full force to cheer on their fellow countryman, despite the heavy rain and wind.
After a tense waiting period that suffered from a lack of swell, contest organizers were forced to run the remaining rounds on the last two days of the two week waiting period. Luckily, Saturday’s swell was pumping along the infamous Supertubes section of the iconic pointbreak, and allowed for stellar performances to take place through Rounds 3, 4, and 5. A staggering 20 heats were completed for a full 11 hours of competition on Saturday, leaving just the final rounds on tap for Sunday’s storm surf.
Highlights from Saturday’s action included the only 10-point ride of the event. Julian Wilson weaved through a flawless, double-section barrel and finished with a fist-pumping claim to take the perfect score and heat win. Julian made it to the quarter finals on Sunday where he lost to the highest placing goofy-foot, Adrian Buchan.
Other highlights from Saturday included Josh Kerr‘s aerials in Round 3 that boosted him past Taj Burrow for the heat win. Josh landed quick, full-rotation 360 airs with ease, and even pulled his patented Kerrazy Spin on an overhead J-Bay wall. It was a stunning display of progressive surfing against the master of new-school performance surfing. The biggest move of the event by far was Jordy’s huge inverted, cork-screwing, 360 air in Round 5 versus consistent heat winner Bede Durbidge. After displaying a variety of carves and snaps on the outside, Smith raced along the inside and punted the most aesthetically smooth, full-rotation 360 air that has been seen on tour this year, and maybe EVER! I think that landing that air in his last heat on Saturday gave him the confidence that propelled him through the final rounds on Sunday.
Unfortunately, just as predicted, the conditions changed dramatically on Sunday as a storm front moved over South Africa. The wind blew the rain sideways, and the surf looked more like a junky beachbreak than the fabled rights of J-Bay. Competitors knew the final day would be this way, and made due with what was on offer. It was more a contest of attrition as pounding, overhead storm surf only allowed for a few maneuvers per wave, and a lot of paddling with no jet-ski assistance in between. Mick Fanning was the man to beat on the final day. He ousted fellow Gold Coasters Josh Kerr and Joel Parkinson in the Quarters and Semis, and looked unstoppable. Jordy was lucky to get goofy-foots in both his Quarter and Semi heat draw, as the conditions made it difficult for backside surfing. He disposed of Damien Hobgood and Adrian Buchan with convincing heat wins.
The final was a showdown of the two surfers that shined through all the conditions throughout the waiting period. Small but clean surf early in the event, inconsistent surf in the middle, proper J-Bay on Saturday, and blown-out junk on Sunday. Mick looked sharper going into the final, but it was Jordy’s day. A few eyebrows were raised on some questionable judging as one of Mick’s scores was a little undercooked when compared to the point-scale of the previous heats that day. Nonetheless, Jordy killed it with progressive surfing. A smooth 360 blow-tail reverse, and a decent sized double-grab air led him to the winner’s podium where he received the gorgeous bronze trophy. Jordy also won Nixon’s Winner Take All prize for the highest heat score of the event (18.30). The WTA prize was a custom Nixon Watch valued at $10,000 which included several black diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires.
The ASP World Tour now heads to the gnarly left pits of Teahupo’o, for the Billabong Pro Tahiti. The South Pacific has had an amazing string of swells that have produced several “Rides of the Year” claims all over the internet. After his Semi-final finish, Joel Parkinson has taken over the lead for the World Title over Adriano De Souza, who dips to 3rd place on the ratings. Jordy Smith’s win moved him up to 2nd place from 4th, and Mick Fanning’s final appearance bumped him from 8th to 4th place. Kelly Slater‘s no show at J-Bay dropped him down to 6th place, so you can bet he will be hungry for a win in Tahiti.
Check out all the action at www.billabongpro.com/tahiti on August 20th.
All photos courtesy ASP Images.