The big news in pro surfing revolves around the Billabong Pro being held at the venerable Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, and more specifically American Taylor Knox’s record breaking round one score. Knox crafted a symphonically beautiful 19.70 out of possible 20 points. And I say beautiful because it was. Knox’s wave dance earned him single wave scores of 9.9 and 9.8 out of possible 10. According to an ASP press release no pro surfer has ever done better at JBay.
"It's really enjoyable to be in a heat like that, it was unreal." Knox said. "It was exciting, because Parko got the first wave and I could see that it was such a good wave and I knew that once it went by me it would barrel. Right then I saw a big one out the back and just thought, 'I'm going to get barreled.'"
By the way, Knox threw away a 9.0. He had no need for it.
"I've had 10s before but I don't think that I have ever backed it up with a 9.70 so I'd say that this was probably the highest scoring heat I've ever surfed," Knox said.
JBay looks simple enough: a perfect point break. To get from Point A to Point B and make it look good, well, only the most polished get the job done correctly. JBay doesn’t just uncover weaknesses; it shines a bright light on them. Those flicky little fin-check top turns make some pro surfers look WSA district 6 participants. The most hideous of surfing styles are disrobed and some pro surfers stand naked and shriveled for the entire world to see. Spectators forced to turn away in disgust.
JBay requires full rail turn-to-turn connections, which demands strong legs, which in turn generally results in an outstanding surfing style. Think about the good ones: Terry Fitzgerald, Shaun Tomson, Tom Curren, Occy, Irons, Slater, Fanning, Parko and Taylor Knox. All of them smooth as a baby’s bum and as strong as a middleweight.
Taylor Knox has the best style on tour. It’s no secret or big reveal. Do yourself a favor and log on to BillabongPro.com and watch Knox’s round 1 heat. I use the kid factor when assessing a surfers style. Would I want my kid to surf like that? When I watch Taylor Knox I say to myself, “hell yes!”
The greatest thing about good style is that you’ll more or less have it forever. When you get old; you are going to lose your ability to do aerials. I never had that ability so I see this as a plus. Sorry to break it to you, but you won’t be punting airs when you are 50 years old. You will however be holding your arms and hands and body posture basically the same way you are now. Style doesn’t leave you. It’s like the IRS, it stays with you for the long haul. Look at Skip Frye or PT or Rabbit or Pottz or Gerlach. They all have the same distinctive style they had in their prime.
Who has the worst style on TOUR? Which pro surfer makes you cringe? Watch the JBay event and it’ll become very clear. I won’t call out any names because that’s not cool. I just hope my kid doesn’t surf like the guy who’s name rhymes with a small to average sized lizard belonging to the family Gekkonidae which are found in warm climates throughout the world.
Taylor Knox is surfing like a Sidewinder: smooth, powerful, deadly.
JBay really brings out the best and worst in styles. Watch some of these heats on the Billabong Pro website and you’ll see the best and worst of it.
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Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Leonardo Neves (BRA)
Heat 2: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Daniel Wills (AUS)
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 7: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Ben Bourgeois (USA)
Heat 10: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 14: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 15: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 16: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Chris Ward (USA)