Are we ready?
Depends on who you ask. If you ask me — then yes, we're ready. The most ready. I've been dreaming about Jeffrey's Bay since forever. Literally. As long as I've been surfing I've wanted to jump off those slippery, mussel covered rocks and into that dream. Yesterday morning, that became a reality. So what if the waves were two feet — J-Bay is everything I hoped it would be. Maybe more.
About those rocks.
Those things are f–king scary. I felt like an idiot slipping and sliding and gingerly weaving my way through the keyhole for 10 minutes trying to time my jump. And then I watched Wilko get stuck in the same spot, doing the same thing, and it made me feel better about myself. Pro surfers, they're just like us! "That was embarrassing," Wilko said, after finally making his way out. "It was so shallow and sharp, I thought about turning around and giving up."
So we're all ready, then?
Not John John. He's not here, still bothered by an ankle injury, so he'll join Jeremy Flores on the IR list. Mom John, however, is here — she’s staying with the Hurley team because she loves South Africa that much. Also: Sebastian Zietz tweaked his knee yesterday in a freesurf (an MRI only revealed a bruise, but he’s limping around) and Kai Otton is still nursing injuries from that brutal wipeout in Fiji. Everyone else? Yeah, they're ready. And with Flores and John out, Alejo Muniz and Tomas Hermes are in.
And the vibes?
High. Everyone loves it here. I asked Dusty Payne what he thought of the forecast. "Honestly, I haven't even really looked, I just like to show up and surf every morning." When I told him it sounds like the best swell is due during the latter half of the waiting period, he seemed pleased this thing could go two weeks. And he's not alone in that sentiment. Nobody wants to leave J-Bay. The town. The wave. The wildlife. It's all pretty much perfect.
Well, almost perfect
Because sharks. The contest hasn’t even started but the Great White hype has. Take it from Strider Wasilewski, who posted the below on Instagram this morning.
“True Story: Its 9:30 in the morning here in South Africa, I’m sitting on the veranda watching slightly on shore Jeffereys Bay. Looks fun and it would be my first surf so the crew is waxing up, @rosswilliamshawaii is a little under the weather so he’s over it! @rondogblakey @peter_mel are already out and @rosyhodge @joeturpel and I are walking out. Joe n Rosy are saying key hole but we decide to paddle out at Bone Yards. As we get out the back Rosy and I see what we hope is a dolphin, a really big dolphin! We soon realize it is a 15ft plus great white and it is turning at us as a set wave rolls through. We both look at each other and take the wave on the back to catch it in hoping to not get blown off and left for the shark….. As we pop out the whitewater we see Joe and Rosy signals him in. We hit the beach and @toddokrine @mrpottz are watching us and Pottz knew when we came in over the rocks what happen! My heart is still beating and I decide not to paddle out down at the key hole and call it a day as my vibe is putting out that “I am pray” beats through my heart! Anyone who knows me knows I am a confident humble soul, right now I’m just feeling humble….. #notmyhouse #respectthelocals”
The storm before the storm
The majority of the CT has been here for two days and, aside from Sunday evening, the wind has been howling onshore. All day Monday the rain came down in sheets. Some have surfed, most have been holed up inside watching Jurassic World and/or True Detective. Except Fred Patacchia. Freddy embraced the storm with a rain jacket and fishing pole. He's a 15 year tour vet and has the best pre-event attitude. Screw the Bosu ball, give that man a beer! The tour is a better — and more fun — place with Fred. Coming into J-Bay he's ranked 27th. We hope this isn't his swan song.
Happy Birthday CJ!
Speaking of fun, CJ turned 36 yesterday and from the looks of it is enjoying himself more than anyone. Yesterday he was the chattiest surfer in the lineup, commenting on everyone and everything. ("I'm just out here trying out for Jimmicane's Fantasy Grudge team. Getting a spot on that roster is all I have left to prove.") CJ's sarcasm and enthusiasm is going to be missed. 2016 will be the first time since before the turn of the century that the CT will be without at least one Hobgood. Side note: An American hasn't won an event since Slater at Pipe in 2013. CJ hasn't made a heat this year. Both are bound to change. Is CJ likely to win J-Bay? Nah. But he's my passion pick nonetheless.
Tomorrow, we’re on.
We think. We hope. The excitement is real. — Zander Morton