Surf: Swell peaked in the night, nice five foot leftovers, dropping through the day. Wind sideshore devil in the morning, straightening up by mid morning.
Event Held: Quarters through the Final, Billabong Pro J-Bay
Nature’s Call: Let’s do this!
Forecast: A third title for A.I.
And like a fat man on a bicycle, once the Billabong Pro J-Bay broke through the fourth round yesterday, it was all downhill to the final. You couldn’t even go get yourself a sandwich for fear of missing some of the climactic action. And the velocity was all Irons, who careened toward his first ever win at Jeffreys Bay — and of the 2004 season — by taking out Mick Lowe with ease in the second quarter final.

“I feel awesome-- it’s always good to get some payback after Lowey combo’d me on the Gold Coast,” confirmed the champ under the gaze of the world’s news cameras before focusing his attention on his upcoming semi-final against Aussie ripper, and J-Bay freak, Jake Paterson.

Meanwhile Nathan Hedge, who eliminated the other J-Bay threat from down under, Joel Parkinson yesterday, managed to pull the giant killer moves on Kelly Slater in an awesome display of backhand demolition on the Supers face.

‘The last few times he’s beaten me, so it’s good to get third time lucky,’ guffawed an elated Nate Hog. ‘Get a bit of revenge on him, last time at Bells we were in the water and he looked me in the eyes and said, “that’s two now.” And it hurts. So that’s maybe what got me through today.’ And what did the Hog say to Slater after the win? ‘That’s two one, mate.’

Kelly, being the supreme philosopher king that he is, worked out his skunk in the water for a while, before coming in to face the media.

‘The thing about Hedgy is his desire,” said the six-time chhamp. “He’s really focused and really intense, n he’s got the right mind for it, if his surfing comes together and he gets the waves, and he’s hard to beat. That’s just how it goes when things aren’t quite falling in place for you.’

Hedgy continued as giant killer. After dislocating his shoulder in the final of the Billabong Pro in Tahiti, the mighty Hedgehog managed to overcome the injury to continue his run of superlative form, easily outpacing the powerful {{{100}}} kilo Hawaiian, Sunny Garcia, in the semi-final.First Kelly, then Sunny.

‘I just backed myself and it’s happened. It’s just a great compliment, just privileged to be in the same league as those boys, beating them is just such a compliment, I’m stoked.’ Said Hedgy after setting up the ding ding final with Andy Irons. ‘Looking forward to the final, Andy’s in good form but hopefully the backsiders will prevail, again.’

And as the crowd waited for the final to begin, hustled in the queue for the food or the bogs, Sonny Garcia came onto the mic and apologised to the crowd for beating local hero Greg Emslie in their quarterfinal match up. Mahalos and respect for the big Hawaiian gesture.

And like it was going to all be over too soon, the hooter blasted and the final began. At around the same time Supers went for a nap. The swell that had been pumping all morning suddenly dried up, the ocean became flat, sporadically firing some smaller sets down the peak. Hog and AI traded a few early small ones until Andy lucked into the king set wave of the day. It lined up a beautiful glassy wall and the world champ pumped twice and slipped into the gaping aquamarine tunnel, and came out clean, another pump and straight into another barrel section, doggy-doored out the side, swooped round a section and straight into barrel number three over the bricks of the Impossibles section. The perfect ten.

Although other waves were surfed in the final, that wave won it. And both Hedgy and Irons knew it. A flustered Nathan Hedge took off and bombed out on two sets that might have cumulatively outdone Irons, but it was not to be. Back on the bandstand and soaked in beer Hedgehog had some words of thanks.

‘Jeffreys is a very special place. I’d like to thank God, my family at home, thanks for your support, I couldn’t have done it without ya. Congratulations to Andy who has proved himself this year, he was probably a bit rattled from previous years results, but he’s done it this year, he’s the current world champ and showing why that is, so congrats buddy. And lastly, Malcolm Brown my doctor who looked after my shoulder after Tahiti, he said if I get up on stage I must do a handstand, so could you all make some room please. I’m going to do a handstand now.’

And we all witnessed the affirmative, dodgy shoulder injury overcoming Hedgy handstand. In the glare of midday J-Bay sunshine Andy scooped up the trophy and the 30 000 USD prize and said this: ‘Thank you, I’m so excited right now, this is a place I’ve never done well at. To win it is amazing.

Such an amazing place, so beautiful with all the wildlife and the people are so cool and the food is really good. I want to thank my beautiful girlfriend Lindy for taking care of me and always supporting me. And thanks to my family in Hawaii. Thanks to all the people for showing up and supporting all the surfers. We’re a traveling circus and we kind of just roll into town and you guys take us in and treat us really well. So I thank you very much.”

To more hoots, whistles and loose applause. Cheron, the head of Billabong SA thanked all the locals for giving up their wave for 10 days and contests director Mike Parsons thanked everyone especially the surfers who lit up the point over the past few days. And so as people rush around organizing the parties for tonight or snagging some of the leftover sets at a crowded Supertubes, the carnival is packing up its things and training its sights on the land of the rising sun.

But is there even reason to continue at this point. Right now, Andy Irons is showing an unbeleiveable consistent runs of seconds and thirds with not a throwaway score to his name. And his only legitimate rival — Mr. Slater — claims only a single semi result.

“That’s obviously frustrating, trying to catch up and falling behind five events in a row. We’re nearly halfway through the year and I’ve only matched him in one event,” said a pragmatic Slater. “I wish we could go head-to-head more, I wish we were on the same side of the draw so we could put each other out instead of having to fight to meet each other at the end of the contest. I’m expecting Andy’s going to make the quarters and the semis of most every contest, so I’m going to have to start winning some. I’m going to need four wins this year.”

A tall order, but you never know. As the saying goes: kelly’s big in Japan. Andy Davis

Billabong Pro Results
1st Andy Irons (HAW) 16.83 - US$30,000
2nd Nathan Hedge (AUS) 8.0 – $US$16,000

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.84 def. Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.17
SF2: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 16.67 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 13.33
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Jake Paterson (AUS) 10.66 def. Lee Winkler (AUS) 10.33
QF2: Andy Irons (HAW) 15.5 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 8.17
QF3: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 16.66 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.17
QF4: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 11.67 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 11.33
Official ASP Ratings after Billabong Pro, WCT#5
1. Andy Irons (Haw) 5,016-points
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 3,552
3. {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (USA) 3,444
4. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 3,432
5. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 3,396
6. Damien Hobgood (USA) 3,180
7. Jake Paterson (AUS) 3,096
8. Michael Lowe (AUS) 2,988
=9. Joel Parkinson (AUS); Sunny Garcia (HAW) 2,976

For complete ratings, scores and photos go to www.aspworldtour.com.