The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay marks the official midway point on the 2007 Foster’s ASP World Tour. Stop No.5 of 10 on this year’s calendar, the event waiting period begins today, July 11th, 2007.
World No. 2 Damien Hobgood (USA) will take on rookies Ben Dunn (AUS) and Luke Munro (AUS) in Heat 7 of Round 1, but Hobgood knows that there is a bigger battle to be fought against World No. 1 Mick Fanning (AUS) and World No. 3 Andy Irons (HAW), not to mention perennially top-seeded surfers Taj Burrow (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) who fill ratings slots 4 through 6 respectively.
Hobgood, whose best year-end result was a World No. 4 finish in 2005, finished 7th in the world last year. A win in Tahiti backed-up by a Final berth in Chile have seen him shoot to world No. 2 where he sandwiched between stiff competition in Fanning and Irons. “Those guys are definitely sitting in the driver’s seat but I just want a shot at it,” Hobgood said. “I’m under the radar but just happy to be in the mix. I actually prefer flying under the radar.”
Bede Durbidge (AUS), current Foster’s ASP World No. 7, is another dangerous blip on the radar. The darkhorse featured in the Final of the first event of the year before backing that result up with two Quarterfinal finishes. An equal 33rd (last place) finish at the last event in Chile saw him slip in the ratings.
“I had a good start to the year but I didn’t do very well in Chile so that was a bit of set back for me ratings wise,” Durbidge said. “Coming into JBay I’m feeling really good though. I’ve come here for the last five years and I love the wave, it’s similar to the waves at home, so I’ll be looking to get a good a result here and boost myself back up in the ratings.”
Rookie Royden Bryson is also hoping to capitalize in conditions he’s comfortable with. He, along with fellow rookies Kai Otton (AUS) and Josh Kerr (AUS), will contest the barreling right-hand wave known as Supertubes for the first time when competition commences.
“I’m excited; I’ve wanted to surf in the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys since I first watched the contest when I was much younger,” Bryson said. “It’s the only World Tour contest on home soil and you always feel more confident and positive at home. You just feel more comfortable on the whole.”
Bryson is one of four full-time 2007 Foster’s ASP World Tour surfers who hail from South Africa. Tour veteran Greg Emslie, third-year competitor Travis Logie and rookie Ricky Bassnett complete the quartet. There is a strong possibility that the number of locals surfing in the main event will increase once the outcome of the Von Zipper Trials is known.
The 12-man trials event will feature six Von Zipper nominated South Africans and six international surfers and will be run just prior to the main event. The South African contingent will include Warwick ‘Wok’ Wright, Damien Fahrenfort, Shaun Payne, Rudy Palmboom and Klee Strachan, with the final local trialist still to be named.
The international field will include Pablo Paulino (BRA), Torrey Meister (HAW), Wade Goodall (AUS), Stirling Spencer (USA), Laurie Towner (AUS) and Tiago Pires (POR). A call on competition status will be made at 7am. The event will be webcast LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com.
Round 1 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Luke Stedman (AUS), Shaun Cansdell (ZAF)
Heat 2: Daniel Wills (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Phillip Macdonald (AUS), Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Fredrick Pattachia (HAW), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Trent Munro (AUS)
Heat 6: Taj Burrow (AUS), CJ Hobgood (USA), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Wildcard
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW), Michael Campbell (AUS), Wildcard
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Chris Ward (USA), Wildcard
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 12: Dean Morrison (AUS), Ricky Bassnett (ZAF), Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 13: Bruce Irons (HAW), Leonardo Neves (BRA), Voctor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 14: Cory Lopez (USA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michael Lowe (AUS)
Heat 15: Kai Otton (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS), Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 16: Taylor Knox (USA), Bernardo Miranda (BRA), Greg Emslie (ZAF)