"The most progressive day of surfing ever witnessed at J-Bay," said former winner Luke Egan describing the surfing he'd witnessed during a massive day of competition. The Billabong Pro J-Bay welcomed it's first day of solid six-foot surf today and the surfers left in the contest reveled in the chance to compete in decent waves, pushing their performances and equipment to the limit. The surfers survived but a lot of equipment didn't.
Jeremy Flores snapped a leash in his first heat and had to swim, while Bede Durbidge suffered a broken board in the next heat and had to return to the beach for a replacement.
Durbidge had to do a 200-yard soft sand run along the point before he could make it back into the water. He then paddled out through six foot sets, most of which landed on his head. Durbidge had made it through round three into round five, but was eliminated by Jordy Smith, who was in devastating form.
Smith had equipment problems, breaking the board he rode to victory in last year's event. He'd already ridden two barrels on the same wave when he tried to pull into one more right on the rocks.
"I was trying to sneak out the doggy door and the lip came right down between my legs and it snapped right under my feet," said Smith, "I'm kind of bummed right now, because it was definitely a favorite board, but I'm glad I scraped through."
Smith took a new pintail out in the non-elimination round four and just couldn't get it going, but in round five he changed boards and absolutely blew up.
"I rode a pintail in my last heat and it wouldn't get going, it was just so slow. I went back to a more squaretail and it felt so much better," he said about the heat win.
"So much better," in surf talk translates to one of the best heats of the contest. After the perfect ten-point wave of Julian Wilson's earlier in the day for a combination of on-rail turns and a long, deep barrel, right through the end section of Supertubes, you wouldn't think it'd get much better, but Smith put together an amazing last wave in his round five heat against Durbidge that resulted in a 9.43 point score.
"I haven't really been hunting the barrels. I was hunting more turns," said Smith, "Anyone can get a ten with a barrel out there, but who can get a ten when they do turns? That's the question." Smith had answered his own question with two huge tail-sliding turns out of the lip, followed off with a massive air reverse to finish the wave. The local crowd went crazy, even breaking out the vuvuzelas as Smith left the water.
If Smith was the crowd favorite, it was a toss up between Julian Wilson, Alejo Muniz and Josh Kerr for the most progressive surfer of the day. In a close call, Kerr was probably the standout. On paper, the last heat of round three was always going to be interesting with number two in the world Taj Burrow taking on Josh Kerr. While Burrow surfed a solid heat, Kerr went for some of the most risky moves you could ever imagine in the heat and pulled them off. People were scratching their heads even trying to put a name to the under-the-lip reverse rail grab rotations.
"I thought I'm just going to go big and fall, or make it, and get scores," said Kerr later, almost laughing about his success.
"I just stuck a couple of moves and it paid off." He then went on to describe the moves that won him the heat. "People have tried to call it a 'Club Sandwich,' or something like that, but I guess it's just an under-the-lip upside down reverse. That's the best way to put it."
The contest ran from sunrise to dark. The contest director asked Mick fanning if he was fine to paddle out for his heat considering the light was going and he was good to go. The guys had surfed three times, so there wasn't going to be any waiting today.
The old hands at Jeffreys Bay were shaking their heads at the standard of surfing that had gone down during the day. Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, Alejo Muniz, Josh Kerr, Michel Bourez, Mick Fanning and Adrian Buchan -- nobody had held back in the clean six-foot conditions. Joel Parkinson moved into the number one spot on the world rankings after Adriano de Souza's loss.
The contest is due to wrap up tomorrow and the question tonight is, can the guys back up today's high performance display? If the waves continue it's sure to be a superb final day and the surfers will be hoping it won't be so hard on their equipment.
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Daniel Ross (AUS) 11.60 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.63 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.67
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.76 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.34
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.70 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.77
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.00 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.00
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.53 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.20
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.10 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.80
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.64 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.33
Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.43 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.44
Heat 10: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.93 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.04
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.30 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.60
Heat 12: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.60 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.20
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.50, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.17, Daniel Ross (AUS) 11.70
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS)17.54 , Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.60, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.17
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.57, Adam Melling (AUS) 16.43, Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.27
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS)16.40, Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.33, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.37
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.30 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.93
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.26 def. Dan Ross (AUS) 11.33
Heat 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.26 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 10.16
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.96 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.40
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
QF 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
QF 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)