Jordy's Big Climb – Africa's Big Gun Doesn't Shoot Blanks

"What are you doing, grom?" Demanded Andy Irons, as 18-year-old Jordy Smith stood in the kitchen of Billabong's palatial, Off The Wall-front manor on the North Shore.

Scrubbing dinner off of the plates and into the sink's garbage disposal, Jordy replied, "Just doing the dishes."

"Not tonight," said Andy, "Tonight's your night off."

Just few hours earlier Andy and Jordy, as well as Joel Parkinson and Fred Patacchia had squared off in the final of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing in pristine 10- to 12-foot Sunset. Billabong had a lot to celebrate. Parko had won, Jordy surprised the world and took second, while Andy's body cramped, he squeaked into third, and finally homegrown talent Patacchia found himself relegated to forth. That second-place result, easily the biggest of Jordy's young career, put him squarely on the map. He was clearly the next big thing in an industry that excites over "the next big thing."

So, it was to be expected that when the Billabong World Junior Championships took to the water in Narrabean, Australia, all eyes were on Jordy. And, once again, he delivered. Besting Brazil's WCT-star Adriano De Souza in a blow-for-blow final this past weekend. Jordy proved once again, that yes, he is indeed the next big thing.

But more than the seemingly instant competitive success, or his bag brimming with new-millennium maneuvers, or his attractive casual yet heavy-handed style (an attribute not often found in somebody that's 6'2"), Jordy's charisma comes from the fact that he's remained understated about it all. He never threatened to make his own bio film before his career was even off the ground, or better yet, he never entertained the idea of "just being a photo slut." He acknowledges that a couple contests don't necessarily make the man, that the road ahead may not always be fun, that life isn't always rife with accomplishment, and that there are sure be many more dishes to wash.

But he's also gotten a taste of what's it like to have the night off from dish duty. While there are a handful of young up and comers out there that could be, or should be considered someday world champs, to date, Smith's the only one who's stepped up and put his big, fat, lucrative contract where his mouth is. He's proven himself worthy in Hawaii. He's proven himself worthy amongst both Junior and WCT competitors. He's also proven that he's not afraid to go out and get a little dirt under the nails to do it, and in the long run, that's what's most worthy of note.

To get the complete story behind Jordy Smith's ascension check out the interview in the latest issue of SURFER Magazine (February 2007, Vol. 48 No. 2) on newsstands now.