It's official: the big guy is off the junk food. Jordy Smith, the biggest guy on the World Tour, is off his junk food diet, into training and looking pretty sharp as a result.
Kelly Slater nailed his 46th World Tour victory and his third Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast title at Snapper Rocks in Australia on Wednesday, defeating defending champion Taj Burrow in a wave-starved final which hung in the balance until after the final siren had sounded.
Quiksilver Pro Final Gallery
The new look Smith ran down the beach this morning for a free surf before the contest began and one observer actually asked if it was Owen Wright -- one of the fittest and trimmest looking guys on tour. He's also riding all new boards this year, mixing it up with different shapers, but Al Merrick seems to be his sharper of choice right now.
Smith absolutely smashed fellow O'Neill team rider Cory Lopez in their Round 3 heat at the Quiksilver Pro, riding one of his new Al Merrick sticks. "I've got a whole lot of new boards right now," said Smith after the heat. "I've got a few from DHD, but the ones I'm riding the most are shaped by Al."
Standing over six foot, Smith somehow stuffed himself into some of the smallest tubes you could imagine at Snapper today. His heat was held close to low tide and with the bank providing perfect running barrels Jordy rode a couple of two-foot drainers during his heat. When asked how he could get so small he just laughed before trying to explain, "I don't know how I can get so small, I've been watching Parko out here and he squeezes himself up so small so I've been trying to copy him and it's been working."
New boards aren't the only thing that's working. I reminded him that last year he'd been eating burgers and lots of junk food when he won at his home break of Jeffreys Bay and he agreed. "Yeah I was into Maccas and Whimpy burgers, the whole lot, but that's gone now. I'm eating right and training pretty hard and it's paying off." After watching him today you'd have to agree. Physically he's trimmed right down and his surfing is sharper as a result. He was runner-up at this event last year to Taj Burrow, and if he keeps the current form he could go one place better.
Smith's not the only guy in a training regime this year. The name Dusty Payne doesn't really gel with the word training, but Australian Ironman Wes Berg was the first guy to congratulate Payne as he left the water after defeating hometown favorite Mick Fanning this morning. Berg, for anyone that doesn't recognize his name, has been Joel Parkinson's coach for the past few years and is credited with getting Parko into the shape.
"I've been here for a few weeks now and I've been surfing Snapper whenever I can and also training with Wes," said Payne when asked about his win over Fanning. "He's been helping me out a lot and I guess it's paying off."
It was a tough heat between Payne and Fanning with similar conditions to yesterday's heat when Durbidge lost to wildcard Matt Banting in strong gusty winds and a very full tide. Both Payne and Fanning paddled against a gnarly rip for the whole heat with Dusty's 8-point ride the big difference.
Nearly every heat of the men's round had some sort of story to tell. Tour Rookie Alejo Muniz knocking out Owen Wright, Parko dominating his clash with Kai Otten, and Matty Wilkinson going nuts in his heat against Heitor Alves and almost pulling of a backhand rodeo flip.
"It was the totally wrong wind to be trying it, but I just came round the section and everything lined up," said Wilkinson later. "I just launched off this little section and grabbed the rail as I went up, normally you'd let it go, but with the wind the way it was I held it for just a little bit longer. I figured I was going to land it properly, but then the thought went through my head that I could break my legs and I sort of let it go at the last minute," he said with a big grin across his face.
The whole competitors area roared when Wilkinson went for the move. Even Slater, who was getting ready for his heat, started waving his arms around trying to excitedly explain to guys around him what Wilkinson had just tried to pull off.
On paper, the last heat of the round was one of the heats of the day: Taj Burrow vs Julian Wilson. What were these two guys going to pull off at Snapper? Both can take to the air at will, but the low tide meant they were both looking for barrels more than air time. Burrow led the charge with critical lip line snaps and barrels from just beside the rocks. Wilson struggled with positioning early because of the rip, but found some dredging tubes that ultimately proved to be too late in the heat to peg back Burrow's lead.
"It was always going to be a pressure heat for me, " said Burrow later. "I know what he's capable of and I just had to go as hard as I could at the beginning to make sure I had some good scores to fall back on. I watched Parko's heat and he was getting tubed on waves I'd never try to make, but I knew if I could get into some barrels then I could do well. The pressure was on me and I'm happy to have dealt with it the way I did."
Organizers are talking of finishing the Roxy Pro tomorrow and running the non-elimination Round 4 of the Men's. Tyler Wright could nail her first win as a Tour Rookie if her current form continues; while the "Dane Round" in the men's could see the guys blowing up more than they did today ... which would be impressive. The swell is supposed to stick around, so it will be busy at Snapper Rocks for the next two days.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.00
Heat 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.84 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.70
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.17 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.27
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.60 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 6.76
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.60 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 11.93
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.93 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 9.87
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.17 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.77
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (AUS) 14.60 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.67
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.54 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 11.16
Heat 10: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.26 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.44
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.14 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 7.17
Heat 12: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.27 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.94
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW), Tiago Pires (PRT), Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Brett Simpson (USA), Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Taj Burrow (AUS)
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.67 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.50
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 13.10 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.83
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.46 def. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 5.70
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.37 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.44
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
QF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
QF 4: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)