Surf: 4 to 5 feet, morning devil wind turning a heavenly southwest by midday (Just in time for Kelly's heat)
Events Held: Round One Heats 1-16 (plus a Tom Curren Boneyards expression session from 2 to 4 p.m.)
Nature's Call: Who told you to pack warm?
Predicted: Toss a coin and hope it lands overheads

Pardon me in advance for not being very lucid on today's Round One proceedings. The truth is, I'm still a bit shocked I even made it here alive. Because at 3 a.m. this morning, flying northeast on the N2 through dense fog and wandering 18-wheelers with Chris Ward as my co-pilot, I had my doubts.

Danny Wills dominated his Round 1 heat to advance
Unrelated circumstances had good ol' Wardo and me on the same program: rushing last minute out of LA, trying to get to the Promised Right in time for the supposed 10-foot swell due to hit the first day of the waiting period. Our itineraries read as follows: LA to New York, New York to Dakar, Senegal, Senegal to Johannesburg, Jo-burg to Port Elizabeth. Easy, right? Two days long, but easy. But as soon as we staggered into Johannesburg last night at 7 pm. and realized our Dakar detour sucked up our layover time, we were cooked: our connector flight already left the runway without us. Our options: stay overnight in Johannesburg, fly to PE in the morning and get to JBay by, say, 10 or 11. The other: fly to Cape Town that night, rent a car, white-knuckle the 730 km drive on a sketchy, two-lane highway, and arrive at dawn.

With a 10-foot, JBay dawn patrol screaming in my jetlagged head and Wardo freaking out about missing his heat, it took about 0.2 seconds for us to decide.

We chose to drive.

The only problem was, it was midnight by the time we hired the car. Wardo was only vaguely familiar with Cape Town and I had never been there in my life. We spent 45 minutes driving circles on abandoned city streets before finally figuring it out and heading in the right direction. I felt like we were a living punchline of some bad joke: Where's Wardo? He's Lost! And you're driving him!

But we made it. I don't know how, but a long dose of Slayer and a couple of gas station burgers somehow got us through every hairpin turn and blind passing lane on that death-trap highway. And Chris, finally healed from a nagging sprained ankle and ready to re-kindle that magic from the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper, somehow made the chaos seem calm as he reclined back in the passenger seat and DJed his iPod. "Hey, if we're putting this kind of effort into getting here," he said. "Then I gotta do good. It's meant to be."

Fortunately, he still gets to wait another round to see if he's right, because today, Wardo – along with the rest of today's merry 44 – were completely overshadowed by four of the usual JBay carvivores: Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and Joel Parkinson.

Kelly Slater – the master in his zoneConditions weren't easy today at the world's best right point. That supposed 10-foot swell was really only slightly overhead ("not south enough getting around the cape," was the standard reply) and contest director Mike Parsons knew he had to take what was on offer – especially for Round One. Out they went, slapping straight into an up-the-face "devil wind." Nobody seemed too excited about it, especially Kelly, who'd been recovering from a lingering cold since Reunion Island. "Is it weird that I don't even want to surf my heat right now?" he said, watching from his adoptive family's home in front of Tubes.

But Kelly didn't need much convincing – especially when the wind switched to a light, wispy offshore as soon as he touched the sand. Other bizarre JBay weather behavior included stifling heat and bikinis on the beach – the same day Mick Fanning and Andy Irons both wore Ugg boots to check the surf this morning.

Kelly really set the fashion trend on this opening day, though, and Irons and Parko – like two master MCs – countered with equally gifted rhythmic skills. Here's the difference: for most surfers, even most surfers in the Top 44, JBay is a race. They're running it more than surfing it, and the second they relax from their sprint stance, they're left in the foam. Slater, Parko, Irons, Fanning – they surf JBay. They toy with it, effortlessly match its speed as if they were surfing some playful pointbreak. But JBay isn't playful. It's fast, it's winding and it requires full concentration—all the way to the bitter end. Kind of like an all-night drive on no hours of sleep. – Evan Slater

Joel Parkinson with the high heat score of Day 1
(1st place advances to Round 3; 2nd & 3rd place go to Round 2)Heat #1:3rd – Damien Hobgood, 2nd – Troy Brooks, 1st – Tim Reyes
Heat #2: 2nd – Cory Lopez, 1st – Michael Lowe, 3rd – Kirk Flintoff
Heat #3: 1st – Nathan Hedge, 2nd – Travis Logie, 3rd – Toby Martin
Heat #4: 1st – Taj Burrow, 2nd – Richard Lovett, 3rd – Renan Rocha
Heat #5: 1st – Mick Fanning, 2nd – Chris Ward, 3rd – Guilherme Herdy
Heat #6: 2nd – Trent Munro, 3rd – Mark Occhilupo, 1st – Bernardo Pigmeu
Heat #7: 2nd – C.J. Hobgood, 1st – Jake Paterson, 3rd – Ian Walsh
Heat #8: 1st – Kelly Slater, 2nd – Bruce Irons, 3rd – Damien Fahrenfort
Heat #9: 1st – Andy Irons, 3rd – Darren O’Rafferty, 2nd – Shaun Payne
Heat #10: 1st – Joel Parkinson, 3rd – Tom Whitaker, 2nd – Sean Holmes
Heat #11: 3rd – Phil MacDonald, 2nd – Marcelo Nunes, 1st – Luke Stedman
Heat #12: 1st – Daniel Wills, 3rd – Taylor Knox, 2nd – Shea Lopez
Heat #13: 3rd – Luke Egan, 2nd – Paulo Moura, 1st – Greg Emslie
Heat #14: 1st – Fred Patacchia, 3rd – Neco Padaratz, 2nd – Raoni Monteiro
Heat #15: 3rd – Peterson Rosa, 2nd – Kalani Robb, 1st – Lee Winkler
Heat #16: 3rd – Dean Morrison, 1st – Bede Durbidge, 2nd – Victor Ribas

(1st place advances to Round 3; 2nd place finishes =33rd)Heat # 1 – {{{CJ}}} Hobgood v. Damien Fahrenfort
Heat # 2 – Trent Munro v. Shaun Payne
Heat # 3 – Cory Lopez v. Sean Holmes
Heat # 4 – Damien Hobgood v. Ian Walsh
Heat # 5 – Phil MacDonald v. Guilherme Herdy
Heat # 6 – Luke Egan v. Renan Rocha
Heat # 7 – Peterson Rosa v. Toby Martin
Heat # 8 – Dean Morrison v. Kirk Flintoff
Heat # 9 – Bruce Irons v. Shea Lopez
Heat #10 – Darren O’Rafferty v. Raoni Monteiro
Heat #11 – Tom Whitaker v. Victor Ribas
Heat #12 – Mark Occhilupo v. Kalani Robb
Heat #13 – Chris Ward v. Neco Padaratz
Heat #14 – Richard Lovett v. Paulo Moura
Heat #15 – Travis Logie v. Taylor Knox
Heat #16 – Troy Brooks v. Marcelo Nunes