An exciting opening day of action and upsets saw the world’s best surfers run through Round 1 of the JBay Open in challenging 3 – 5 foot waves that deteriorated in the onshore winds.
The South African challenge at JBay received an unexpected boost when Michael February, the runner-up in the JBU Supertrials last month, was drafted into his first CT event as a replacement for Matt Banting. The Australian withdrew from the event after injuring a knee while free surfing earlier in the week.
Up against defending title holder Mick Fanning, February took the lead early in the heat with a polished aerial manoeuvre, but could not find a similar high-scoring second wave.
Fanning, a three time world champion and three time event winner, found his rhythm and posted scores of 8.17 and 7.50 to win the heat convincingly with the second highest heat tally of the day.
“I only found out 30 minutes before that I was going to be surfing and the time flew by so quickly,” said February. “My first wave was a bit shaky but my second wave was alright, a 6.5, but I couldn’t find a good one after that.
I have got another heat in Round 2, so I am stoked. This is the first CT I have ever surfed and I am just going to give it everything I can.”
Slade Prestwich (Scottburgh), who earned his wildcard into the JBay Open by winning the JBU Supertrial, was matched with top seed Adriano De Souza and Kolohe Andino (USA).
The Brazilian got off to a great start, but a big front-side air reverse in the final seconds from Andino was enough to turn the heat. The American stole his first Round 1 heat win on the CT this year with a 7.93, upsetting De Souza and Prestwich, who will both surf again in Round 2.
Local favourite and South Africa’s only member of the CT, Jordy Smith, came into JBay ranked No. 18 after missing the last event in Fiji with a knee injury.
An uncharacteristically low scoring performance had his supporters perplexed until he left the water at the end of the heat and went directly to the medical facilities for treatment on a back spasm incurred while practising yesterday.
11x World Champion Kelly Slater posted an impressive 8.17 out of the gates with a full rotation aerial and into an early lead.
Gliding effortlessly down the line, Slater found a quick cover up for another big score, an excellent 8.83 and the highest single-wave score of the day.
Slater first won the contest in 1996 and continued to dominate today against rivals Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Glenn Hall (IRL), putting them both in a combination situation and taking the lead with a 17.00 heat total.
“I feel really good and I took a lot of time off this week,” said Slater. “I didn’t chase that last swell and I just took some time for myself.
I also felt really good in my free surf yesterday. I just felt really calm and I watched it a couple hours beforehand to see where to sit and which waves to catch.”
JBay Open Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.00, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.84, Taj Burrow (AUS) 5.26
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.27, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 5.60
Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.70, Owen Wright (AUS )12.86, Kai Otton (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.33, Adam Melling (AUS) 7.00, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.33
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.67, Michael February (ZAF) 11.33, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 7.66
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.03, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.24, Slade Prestwich (ZAF) 10.33
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.94, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.14, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.74
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.33, Glenn Hall (IRL) 5.40
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.60, Nat Young (USA) 10.00, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.87
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (USA) 14.90, Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.60, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.53
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.00, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 6.70, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 5.17
Heat 12: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.93, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.27, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.00
JBay Open Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Slade Prestwich (ZAF)
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)