The JBay Open got underway yesterday and the world’s best surfers took to the water for a full day of exciting action at Jeffreys Bay.
Competition ran through Round 1 and the opening four heats of Round 2 as the WSL Top 34 battled for a place in Round three in 3– 4 foot waves groomed by a strong offshore wind.
All eyes were on three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) who surfed in the opening heat of the day,
It was his first heat at Jeffreys Bay since the dramatic JBay Open Final last year where he encountered a three meter Great White shark.
Despite suffering an ankle injury during a free surf session last week, Fanning looked confident and claimed a solid victory over Alejo Muniz (BRA) and Conner Coffin (USA), finding one of the longest rides of the day, for a 7.50 to secure his win.
“It’s been a big week actually,” said Fanning. “I got here early but then hurt my ankle so had to sit on the sidelines and watch the amazing waves go through.
The medical staff have worked wonders and I’ve got it taped up. I feel good when I’m up and riding and each day my ankle gets better and better. It’s great to get back out there.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF) looked fired up for his first heat at Jeffreys Bay.
The two-time event winner and lone South African on the men’s CT pulled together an impressive combination of manoeuvres to deliver two excellent scores – an 8.10 and 8.33.
“You really have to surf out of your skin at JBay to get good scores,” said Smith. “It was a great heat and there were lot of opportunities.
Last year I didn’t really get the opportunity to surf my best so it feels good to be back. It’s incredible to be home and have the crowd behind me.
Every time you do a big turn you hear the crowd erupt and it feels great – it’s good to be home.”
Jeffreys Bay local Steven Sawyer (ZAF), the only other South African in the JBay Open thanks to the wildcard he was awarded for winning the JBU Supertrial at Supertubes in June, was relegated to third spot in his opening heat against Jeep rankings leader Matt Wilkinson and fellow Australian Davey Cathels.
With Cathels taking the heat win, Sawyer and Wilkinson met again in the Heat 1 of Round 2 and Sawyer had the opportunity to cause a major upset when he only needed a average score, but fell early in his final ride.
“It’s definitely a setback being ill but it wouldn’t have changed the end result I don’t think,” Sawyer said. “I was falling and doing silly things out there.
I was just waiting for that bomb but was uncomfortable on the waves I got. It’s bit of a bummer because I know I could have done it, but I’ll have to come back next year.”
The South African finished the event in equal 25th place and Wilkinson will advance on to Round 3. Wilkinson’s victory will see him retain the Jeep yellow jersey heading into the next event on the CT, the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) defeated Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Matt Banting (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 7 and will advance to Round 3.
“Jeffreys Bay is so special because there aren’t many point breaks that barrel like here,” said Slater.
“It was weird because I had a feeling I would get the wave to win the heat. I was just trying to find anything to give me a score.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:30am local time for a possible 7am start.
The JBay Open forms part of the JBay Winterfest, a multi sports and entertainment festival that takes place each year in Jeffreys Bay.
JBay Open Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.67, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.80, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.97
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.33, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.06, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.43
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.64, John John Florence (HAW) 13.24, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.60
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.76, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.80, Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.00
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27, Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.77, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.27
Heat 6: Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.33, Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.43
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.26, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.00, Matt Banting (AUS) 9.43
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.16, Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.66, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.50
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.43, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 15.10, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.40
Heat 10: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15.26, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.60, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.90
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.77, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.17, Nat Young (USA) 7.50
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 17.90, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.90, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.74
J-Bay Open Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.47 def. Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.93
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.27 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.77
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.54 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.34
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.50 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 3.87
J-Bay Open Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)