The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay got underway today in 3-5 foot surf at Supertubes. Despite the ruler edge lines that were pouring down the point, the North-Westerly “Devil Wind” made the going a bit tougher than what the competitors might be used to. The North-Westerlies are renowned for wreaking havoc with the lineup and make negotiating the already esoteric walls of J-Bay that much more difficult.
But then again we're not talking about a bunch of Sunday surfers here, we're talking about the world's best, and they were more than equipped to deal with the tricky conditions. The big scores began in the second heat of the main event today, when Danny Wills nearly printed a carbon copy of his first round performance last year. It was only slightly off the mark of a perfect ten, but his 9.17 signaled the first of the day's many big scores.
Parko and Mick Fanning made some of the biggest impressions in the somewhat inconsistent surf, cementing their places among J-Bay's all-time best.
As usual, Parko and Mick Fanning made some of the biggest impressions in the somewhat inconsistent surf, cementing their places among J-Bay's all-time best. Both are favored to go all the way, and their form in the early rounds has historically been an accurate indication of how close to the winner's podium they will finish.
Last year's runner up, Taj Burrow, was the only big name not to advance through his first round heat after he finished agonizingly short of CJ Hobgood's medium range scores. Taj will no doubt endeavor to make use of the excellent conditions predicted for the second day of the window period and keep his 2007 World Title hopes alive. But it was CJ who did him in today, who, along with Bobby Martinez was one of only two goofy footers to advance out of the nine first round heats.
Martinez has been the talk of many WCT surfers after his perceived sophomore slump was ended in Arica, Chile. Local surfer, Travis Logie, who will come up against Adrian Buchan and Rodrigo Dornelles in the second heat of the morning tomorrow, thinks that Bobby is the one to look out for in this event. “If I had to put forward one goofy-footer, I would have to say Bobby Martinez because he surfs really well out here,” Logie said.
He was right. Martinez blitzed his heat against Phil MacDonald and Troy Brookes with a series of devastating backhand hacks.
World title contender Andy Irons scraped through his first heat in increasingly inconsistent conditions, and will be happy to secure his place in the third round. He did away with South African wildcard Damien Fahrenfort and Australia's Mick Campbell before the competition was called off for the day.
Although it wont go down as the greatest day of surfing in the history of the event, the organizers can be forgiven for jumping the gun, especially considering J-Bay's track record over the past couple years.
Oddly enough, the big news around the swanky new contest tower on Pepper Street was about tomorrow. More specifically, the talk centered around the huge swell and howling off shores that are rumored to pull through tonight.
Local wildcard Warwick Wright might have more than just the pumping surf on his mind; he meets Wardo and Kelly in the first heat of the morning, a terrifying prospect at the best of times, made even more so by the thundering surf that is due to arrive sometime in the night.
He'll need a warm wetsuit and a set of brass balls come morning time, as will everyone else who has to negotiate the sketchy paddle-out through the "key-hole", which, as the surf gets bigger, tends to resemble the eye of a needle.
Round 1 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Results:
Heat 1: Luke Stedman (AUS) (12.33), Shaun Cansdell (AUS) (12.33), Tom Whitaker (AUS) (8.07)
Heat 2: Daniel Wills (AUS) (16.50), Mark Occhilupo (AUS) (11.93), Raoni Monteiro (BRA) (9.63)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) (14.93), Phillip Macdonald (AUS) (10.74), Troy Brooks (AUS) (9.13)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) (10.50), Fredrick Pattachia (HAW) (9.73), Gabe Kling (USA) (2.93)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) (16.83), Pancho Sullivan (HAW) (13.83), Trent Munro (AUS) (6.83)
Heat 6: CJ Hobgood (USA) (12.33), Neco Padaratz (BRA) (12.17), Taj Burrow (AUS) (11.93)
Heat 7: Luke Munro (AUS) (13.34), Ben Dunn (AUS) (11.27), Damien Hobgood (USA) (11.17)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) (16.00), Jeremy Flores (FRA) (9.27), Shaun Payne (ZAF) (7.26)
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) (11.20), Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) (8.07), Michael Campbell (AUS) (5.66)
Remaining Round 1 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Match-Ups:
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Chris Ward (USA), Warwick Wright (ZAF)
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 12: Dean Morrison (AUS), Ricky Bassnett (ZAF), Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 13: Bruce Irons (HAW), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Victor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 14: Cory Lopez (USA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michael Lowe (AUS)
Heat 15: Kai Otton (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS), Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 16: Taylor Knox (USA), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), Greg Emslie (ZAF)