Photos by Ryan Miller
The fourth stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay experienced its most dramatic day thus far, with major upsets and a change in the 2010 ASP World Title Race frontrunner.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, continued to be a dominant force at Jeffreys today, blitzing the roping right handers with an unparalleled repertoire to defeat rampaging rookie Owen Wright (AUS), 20, in a dynamic Round 4 bout.
"Owen (Wright) has had the best backhand out here all event," Smith said. "I knew I had to get a jump on him early and was fortunate that there were plenty of waves in that heat. I opened with an average one before I got that 8.60, but Owen was right there with a high 7 so it was tight all the way through. Then he let me go on that one where he had priority and it turned into my best wave. Just allowed me to put in a variety of maneuvers."
With his Quarterfinals berth at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, Smith surpasses former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 38, in the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title, but the young South African is humble when regarding the remainder of the season.
"That's cool but there's still a long way to go," Smith said. "Kelly (Slater) may have lost today but he won't be out of the title race until the hooter sounds at Pipe at the end of the year. Still, it's a great position for me to be in and I'll look to consolidate with a solid result here at Jeffreys."
Sean Holmes (ZAF), 32, wildcard into the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, continued to wreak havoc amongst the world's best, derailing Slater's Billabong Pro campaign in this morning's Round 3 heat despite nursing a sore back. With sparse waves throughout the affair, Holmes allowed Slater a wave off his priority with moments to go before taking a bigger wave and cementing his win.
"Look, Kelly (Slater) is going to belt the score he needs on any wave," Holmes said. "For me, with my back, I wasn't going to improve my score on the smaller wave so there was no point in me taking it. That was the tactic I was playing with throughout the heat and I was fortunate that the ocean cooperated with me at the end."
For Slater, today's loss allowed Smith to capitalize and pull ahead in the race for the 2010 ASP World Title, but the legendary Floridian is prepared to rebound at the next ASP World Tour stop in Tahiti.
"It's a long year ahead," Slater said. "I think I entered this event two or three heats ahead of Jordy (Smith) and if he wins this event, he'll be two or three events ahead of me. So I've got a month to think about it before the next one. I'll go home, recharge and focus on Tahiti."
"I never felt in sync here this year," Slater continued. "I've been tired ever since I arrived. I've been going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 1am. I've been up today for 8 hours already. That said, Sean is always in sync out here at Jeffreys. He knows the spot really well and is always on the best waves."
Holmes supernatural rapport with Jeffreys Bay would serve him well again this afternoon, eliminating former nemesis Andy Irons (HAW), 31, in another tight Round 4 match.
"I'm stoked to get through but I'm a little bummed for Andy (Irons)," Holmes said. "He and I are very good friends, and he's just so fired up at the moment and wants to do well. He's been surfing well but seems like he's having a tough year. I'm sure he'll sort it out in Tahiti though. Happy to get through another one and we'll see what tomorrow brings."
Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, highlighted the afternoon's affairs, posting the highest heat total of the event, an 18.87 out of a possible 20, to dispatch of Tiago Pires (PRT), 30. The Western Australian's forehand assault was executed viciously and with unrivalled speed leading pundits to speculate about a possible win for the man from Yallingup.
"It was just really fun," Burrow said. "I felt like I could surf my waves a bit better actually, but I was able to surf them from start to finish. I just get really excited looking down the line at a four-foot open face and I have so many turns going through my mind, I almost don't know which I want to do."
Coming into the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay rated No. 3 on the ASP World Title Race rankings, Burrow appears to have reignited the form evident prior to an uncharacteristic 17th in Brazil and is en route to another strong finish in South Africa.
"I'm feeling better with each heat," Burrow said. "It certainly helps with the ratings and makes things interesting. There's been some big upsets, but at the end of the day, I just want to surf to my best out in the heat. I feel like I'm working my way towards it and I just want to perform at my best."
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 23, current ASP World No. 8, continued his ruthless assault on the Jeffreys Bay walls this afternoon, dispatching of Adrian Buchan (AUS), 27, in Round 4 of competition.
"This is my fourth time at this event and my fourth time making the Quarters," De Souza said. "I really hope to improve here this season. I feel very good. I'm healthy, my boards are good so I am ready. I am No. 8 in the world right now and I am looking to better with a result here."
The end of the day was highlighted by the Americans with Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, executing the turn of the event to take out rookie compatriots Brett Simpson (USA), 25, and Damien Hobgood (USA), 31, causing a major upset eliminating reigning ASP World Champion, Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, in the final heat of the day.
"I thought there were going to be a lot of waves in our heat but it ended up being fairly slow," Hobgood said. "The waves we had were actually pretty tough to surf on your backhand. I made a mistake early on, but was able to put together two okay scores and Mick (Fanning) didn't really find a rhythm until later on. That last wave he got didn't look good, but he turned it into something and came close to getting the score. I'm happy to get through and hope the waves get bigger for the Quarters."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be 2010 ASP World Tour rookies Adam Melling (AUS), 25, up against Dusty Payne (HAW), 21, in the final heat of Round 4.
Highlights from the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will be available via http://www.billabongpro.com/jbay10/
The event will be broadcast LIVE on FUEL TV in Australia.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, are calling
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will begin on Friday, July 15 and run through July 25, 2010.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 3 Results:
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.33 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 8.50
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.80 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 3.97
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.33 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 9.43
Heat 8: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.10 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.06
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.93 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.64
Heat 10: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.60 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 13.80
Heat 11: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.23 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 12.50
Heat 12: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.63 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.06
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.23 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 13.10
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.63 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.40
Heat 15: Adam Melling (AUS) 16.06 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 8.00
Heat 16: Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.33 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.20
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.63 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.44
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.87 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.83
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.53 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.90
Heat 4: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 15.60 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 15.17
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.87 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.00
Heat 6: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.93 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 13.20
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.00
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Sean Holmes (ZAF)
QF 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
QF 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. TBD