Excellent surf greeted the best surfers in the world for day one of the JBay Open of Surfing.
Forming the anchor of the JBay Winterfest, the JBay Open is the first time that the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) has been back to the area since 2011.
Reigning World Champion Mick Fanning (Aus) opened up the day with the first wave, a high-speed racetrack into the light northwesterly wind, high lining down to the Car Park section for a decent opening score to set the standard for the day. Fanning won the first heat against Sebastien Zietz (Haw) and tour rookie Dion Atkinson (Aus.)
In heat two, former event champion Taj Burrow (Aus) defeated Fred Patacchia (Haw) and Matt Wilkinson (Aus) in another close tussle. “It’s great to be back in JBay,” said Taj after his win. “I’ve been here for a few days, getting a bit of a warm-up, but this is the best day so far. It was a bit bumpy out there, and I was nursing a few of my turns in the chop, but I started pushing it towards the end, and I’m just stoked to be here in JBay again.”
Dylan Lightfoot, the local surfer wildcarded into the main event by winning the JBU Supertrial presented by RVCA, had a real challenge in his first World Tour heat. Up against Kelly Slater and Mitch Crews, he surfed superbly, but a dominant Kelly was always going to be a challenge. He managed a second behind Kelly and placed in front of Mitch.
“I wasn’t nervous, out there at all. I just wanted to surf Supers my best, but I wasn’t really intimidated,” said Dylan. “I wished I had a few barrels out there, but I didn’t actually get any.” Dylan was eventually beaten by world number one seed Gabriel Medina in round 2.
Jordy Smith was the surfer of the day in his opening heat against Owen Wright and Jadsen Andre. He opened up with a big set wave and carved hard and fast in the pocket to the roars of the crowd. Huge flyaway floaters and power turns all the way down to Impossibles saw the judges award him with a 9.8 for the highest score so far.
Literally minutes later he picked up on another one in front of the Car Park for a frothy barrel and another series of power carves for a 9.5. With over 20 minutes left in the heat, Jordy had racked up the highest heat score of the day.
After a broken leash drama, Jordy ended up picking the wave of the day, as the sun shone down, the wind held its breath, and the crowds went wild. There was nowhere to go, except for a ten point ride, and after smashing the set wave all the way through to the inside, riding a long barrel over the end section, Jordy was awarded a perfect score – 10 points – throwing away the 9.5 ride.
“The broken leash was a bit of a mission and after doing the runaround I was back at the top,” said Jordy. “Then I got that final wave. It was such a good one, and these things happen for a reason. I just wanted to be confident out there, win it with confidence.
For the day’s results go here www.aspworldtour.com
The forecast looks encouraging for today and there is a good chance of another day of competition. This evening also sees the VW Rally take place on the streets of JBay.
High action adrenalin action and excitement from the afternoon into the evening. More information on the VW Rally can be found here. www.jbaywinterfest.com/vw-rally/
The Poker Run is also set for this evening. The meeting place for the Poker Run is outside the Savoy Hotel on Da Gama Road at 4:30 pm. For more information go here www.jbaywinterfest.com/poker-run/
The music festival will kick off tonight as well, with A-King and Van Coke Cartel performing at the Jolly Dolphin, accompanied by DJ Naaldekoker. For more information and tickets please go here www.jbaywinterfest.com/music-fest/
For more information on the Winterfest check the website out here www.jbaywinterfest.com