The Corona Open JBay ran through the opening two heats of elimination Round 2 yesterday before competition was put on hold and eventually called off after the inconsistent one metre waves and crosswind conditions at Jeffreys Bay failed to improve.
Two-time event winner Jordy Smith survived a tough Round 2 clash against fellow South African and JBU Supertrial winner Dale Staples, avoiding early elimination by the narrowest of margins and advancing on to Round 3.
After posting the highest single wave score of the match-up, Staples needed just a 4.17 to claim the heat win and a berth in Round 3. As time wound down he had the chance to cause a major upset on a small but perfectly shaped wave.
However the 26 year old from nearby St Francis Bay looked undecided on whether to attack the wave and go for a big score or ride it conservatively and try to get the moderate score required.
The result was an unconvincing 3.77 from the judges and Smith benefitted from the boxing adage that the challenger needs to knock the champion out rather than trying to rely on a points decision.
“It was definitely stressful out there and to be honest he (Staples) is probably the deadliest guy in the whole draw,” Smith said.
“I was just really lucky because he didn’t quite get the score. I just wanted to get two waves out there. We didn’t have many sets but I’m just happy to get the job done. Even though we’re great friends, everyone wants to win. It sucks to come up against Dale in a heat but I’m sure he’ll get more opportunities.”
Staples, known for his hard charging style, won the JBU Supertrials in booming overhead waves at Supertubes in June and was disappointed that the expected larger surf did not materialize.
“It’s always hard coming up against Jordy (Smith), one of my favourite surfers,” said Staples. “It would have been nice to have some better waves and put on a show for everyone.
I just came a bit short at the end which is a bit of a bummer. It’s great to surf in good waves against the best surfers in the world – that’s the difference between the CT and QS. This just makes me more hungry to win.”
Current No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson (AUS) faced South African wildcard Michael February (Kommetjie) in Heat 2. February came out firing and held the advantage after the opening exchange with 7.00 to Wilkinson’s 6.17.
However, the Australian locked in a 6.93 for his second score while February’s second wave petered out in the Carpark section for a 4.67. With Wilkinson holding priority, the ocean went flat for the remaining eight minutes of the encounter.
“Mikey (February) has been surfing really good the past few days so I’m stoked to get the win,” Wilkinson said. “When the tide’s this high you’re so close to the reef so I’m happy to finish the heat intact and ready for Round 3.
WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow put the event on hold after Heat 2, before calling competition off for the day when conditions did not improve.
Event organisers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. local time to assess conditions and make the next call.
Surfline, official forecaster for the Corona Open J-Bay, are calling for:
Monday will see a temporary decreasing trend for the first half of the day as offshore flow likely continues. New SW to SSW swell looks likely to build over the later afternoon and evening hours Monday before peaking on Tuesday with solid surf.
Wednesday will see a decreasing trend through the day. Favourable wind looks likely both Tuesday and Wednesday. There is potential for more SW swell for the end of next week.
Corona Open JBay Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.67 def. Dale Staples (ZAF) 10.27
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.10 def. Michael February (ZAF) 11.67
Corona Open JBay Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 9: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
The Corona Open JBay is the showcase event at the JBay Winterfest, a multi-sport and cultural festival in Jeffreys Bay from July 12-23.
More details at www.jbaywinterfest.com