Shaun Payne from nearby St Francis Bay earned a coveted wildcard into the R3 million Billabong Pro J’Bay by defeating a world class quartet of junior surf stars in the VonZipper Superheat at Jeffreys Bay yesterday.
Payne, 26, waited patiently for the best waves during the hard fought 40 minute heat run in marginal 2 foot glassy waves at Supertubes. Posting a score of 5.83 out of 10 on his opening ride, it wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that he moved into the lead with 6.60 point ride and a heat tally of 12.43 out of 20.
“I am just so happy to have made it into the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay – words can’t express how I feel right now,” exclaimed an elated Payne in the post heat interview. “Even when I took the lead I knew the other guys could easily get the score required. It was the longest seven minutes of my life and I was just over the moon when the siren sounded.”
Payne’s wildcard sees him take on top seed and 10 time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and red hot rookie Alejo Muniz (BRA) when Round 1 of the Billabong Pro gets underway, probably at first light today. At time of writing it is unknown whether Slater will be in Jeffreys Bay in time for his Round 1 heat as he has been enjoying an outstanding swell in Fiji while the unseasonal sunny and warm conditions in South Africa have resulted in small waves at Jeffreys Bay.
Under World Tour event format nobody is eliminated from the event in Round 1 where the winner of each of the 12 heats advances directly to Round 3. Those placing second and third in the heat then contest Round 2 which comprises 12 man-on-man heats with the winner progressing to Round 3 and loser ousted from the event in equal 25th place overall.
Sean Holmes (Cape Town), who was allocated a wildcard directly into Round 1 of the Billabong Pro J-Bay 2011, will be up against fellow South Africa and defending champion Jordy Smith. Smith recently relocated from Durban to Cape Town, buying a house in the upmarket beach suburb of Llandudno where he now spends up to seven months of year when not competing on the Dream Tour or attending to sponsorship commitments.
The two South Africans will have to contend with 2010 event runner-up, Adam Melling (AUS), the surfer Smith beat to clinch his maiden ASP World Tour event title at Jeffreys Bay last year, in their three-man Round 1 encounter.
BILLABONG PRO J-BAY – ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
H1: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Cory Lopez (USA)
H2: Jeremy Flores (FRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
H3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Gabe Kling (USA)
H4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA)
H5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adam Melling (AUS), Sean Holmes (ZAF)
H6: Kelly Slater (USA), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Shaun Payne (ZAF)
H7: Adriano De Souza (BRA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
H8: Owen Wright (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)
H9: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)
H10: Damien Hobgood (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA)
H11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
H12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)