JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Saturday, July 23, 2011) – The world’s best surfers put on a high-performance clinic today in pumping six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) surf as the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay rampaged through Rounds 3, 4 and 5.
The fourth stop on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay navigated a challenging forecast throughout the waiting period to arrive at today’s idyllic conditions and set up for a dramatic finish tomorrow.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, current No. 5 on the ASP World Title rankings and defending event winner, came back from a slow start to the day with the performance of the event, an 18.30 out of a possible 20, in his electric Round 5 win over Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28.
“I took a pintail out in my Round 4 heat and felt like I was going backwards on it,” Smith said. “I switched it up for the last heat and I’m stoked I found a board I really like. The waves out here this afternoon are really fun. Even with that little wind on it, there are still some really good ones out there and they’re really good for airs.”
Smith capped off his sensational Round 5 performance with a massive full-rotation air reverse on the bricks to the tune of a 9.47 out of a possible 10. The South African will face former event Runner-Up Damien Hobgood (USA), 32, in the Quarterfinals when competition resumes tomorrow.
Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, is enjoying his first-ever trip to Jeffreys Bay and today scored the event’s first Perfect 10, linking a bevy of searing forehand arcs before navigating an incredible barrel to the raucous applause of the thousands on the beach and the hundreds of thousands watching online.
“The waves are so good this morning that it was only going to be a matter of time before one opened up like that,” Wilson said. “When I paddled into it, I could kind of see it had a double-up forming down the line and when I pulled in at Supers, I thought it’d be good if I got one section. Then I couldn’t really make the doggy-door on that one and I pulled into the Impossibles section and it somehow let me out. It was an incredible feeling.”
Despite a stumble in Round 4, the young Australian rebounded in Round 5, blending some incredible fin-free surfing with strong rail turns to overtake Daniel Ross (AUS), 28, and advance through to the Quarterfinals – a career-best finish.
“It’s been an exhausting day of surfing,” Wilson said. “Without the jetski assist and the long paddles, you’re definitely exerting a lot of energy out there. I gave my Round 4 heat everything I had and I came in a bit angry that I didn’t come away with the win. That probably wasted a bit more energy. I knew I had to throw everything I had against Rossy (Dan Ross) and I’m stoked to come away with the win. It’s my best result on tour so far.”
Wilson will face compatriot Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, when Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay competition resumes.
Buchan, current No. 17 on the ASP World Title rankings, put in a sensational performance of his own this afternoon, annihilating the Jeffreys Bay walls on his backhand to collect an impressive 17.54 out of a possible 20 and advance past his in-form Round 4 opponents.
“It was such an exciting heat with Jordy (Smith) and Julian (Wilson) as they’re amazing talents,” Buchan said. “That said, I felt really confident. My board feels great and I was posting big scores in other heats so I knew if I could get two good waves, I’d be in there. Fortunately for me, I started with a big score and that gave me momentum moving forward through the heat.”
Now into the Quarterfinals of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, Buchan is in a position to be the first goofy-footer to take out the event title since 1999 ASP World Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS), 45, scalped it in 1984.
“At Jeffreys Bay, the hardest thing for a goofy-footer is how fast it is,” Buchan said. “That also happens to be the best thing about the wave. On your backhand, there’s nothing better than building up lots of speed and having the ability to do critical floaters and big top turns. The bigger it gets is obviously a benefit to guys who have to surf on their backhand.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, two-time past winner at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (1999, 2009), continued his sizzling form today blitzing his Round 4 match against compatriots Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, and Adam Melling (AUS), 26.
“I’ve always been a bit skeptical of Round 4 but I’m becoming a believer now,” Parkinson said. “You can really throw caution to the wind and let loose in your surfing. So I’m feeling really good at the moment. It’s definitely a relief to go straight into the Quarterfinals, and now I’ll relax on focus on a positive finish tomorrow.”
Parkinson will take on rookie sensation Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21, in tomorrow’s Quarterfinal bout.
Muniz caused the upset of the event this morning, eliminating then-frontrunner in the 2011 ASP World Title race and compatriot Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, in Round 3 of competition.
“That was a very important heat for me,” Muniz said. “I needed to make that heat to ensure I would be safe for the August rotation, and now that I’m guaranteed for the rest of the year, I am so happy. I didn’t want to compete against Adriano (de Souza) because he is going for the ASP World Title, but that’s what happens sometimes.”
De Souza’s Round 3 loss sees Parkinson ascend to the leader spot in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title.
Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 34 (ASP World Rankings), applied a different approach to Jeffreys Bay today, utilizing an unparalleled repertoire of progressive maneuvers to notch up high scores in Round 4 and advance directly into the Quarterfinals. One such move, considered by many to be the high-performance statement of the year, involved a full-rotation method grab alley-oop, scoring an 8.90 out of a possible 10.
“I was killing myself trying to play it safe and do a bunch of turns through to the end,” Kerr said. “I wasn’t getting big scores and I just started trying to do big turns and airs and stick to my strengths. I’m stoked to have pulled a couple in the heat and looking forward to tomorrow’s Quarterfinals.”
Kerr will face former two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, when competition recommences.
When competition resumes, up first will be Damien Hobgood (USA), 32, against Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, in Quarterfinal 1.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:45am to assess conditions for a possible 7:15am start.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, are calling for today’s solid SSW to drop slightly over the next two days with the potential for onshore winds.