With 18 scores of nine points or more, the 2015 JBay Open has seen its fair share of fireworks already.
Still, the contest’s most anticipated heat so far unfolds in Round 4, and features three World Champions: 11-time Champ Kelly Slater (USA), three-time Champ Mick Fanning (AUS), and reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA).
The good news for them?
Nobody will be going on safari after. Round 4 is non-elimination, so the winner will advance directly to the Quarters.
The runner-up and third-place surfers will have another shot in Round 5.
Of the three surfers, Fanning is arguably the frontrunner based on his results so far this year — not to mention being the defending event champion. He’s currently ranked World No. 3 on the Jeep Leaderboard, and won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach earlier this year.
Despite not having had a flashy season — two ninth-place finishes and one thirteenth isn’t exactly thrilling — he’s still outpacing his superheat competitors.
Slater to date is having one of the worst competitive years of his career. He currently sits at World No. 11, a rare instance in which he’s not only out of the Title discussion, but also out of the Top 10. And yet, you don’t win 11 Titles without a certain magic.
Slater’s signature, competitive zeal has been back in full effect for the event in Jeffreys Bay, which he has won four times.
Similarly, Medina appears to be back in form. After a lackluster season that shocked competitors, commentators and fans alike, he earned three nine-point rides during Round 3.
Currently ranked No. 20, his unique mix of creativity and flawless execution has largely been missing from his performances so far in 2015.
The JBay Open forms part of the annual JBay Winterfest, presented by Woodlands Dairy.