South Africa’s Jordy Smith rocketed to the top of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) rankings following his fifth place finish in the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro at Pasta Point in the Maldives on Friday.
The 19 year-old from Durban has now amassed 10,063 points from his best seven results on the 2007 WQS, more than the surfer who finished in fifth place on the year end WQS ratings last year, virtually guaranteeing him a top 15 finish at the end of this year.
The top 15 from the WQS year end ratings qualify for the elite Foster’s ASP World Tour the following year, which is contested by the world’s top 45 ranked surfers and determines the annual undisputed world surfing champion.
Smith has also earned US $32,355 in prize-money in 2007, the fifth highest of all ASP members on both tours, and with more than 10 events carrying hefty prize purses still to run, he can look forward to substantially increasing that figure.
The phenomenally talented teenager has clinched two world titles in the last nine months – the open division of the ISA World Surfing Games in California and the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Australia and was voted South Africa’s ‘Surfer of the Year’ for 2006, the first time the award has been bestowed.
Smith also received the coveted Vans Triple Crown ‘Rookie of the Year’ award in Hawaii in December, where he defeated a world class field when finishing second behind fellow Billabong team rider Joel Parkinson (Australia) at Sunset Beach. He ended 2006 ranked 26th in his rookie year on the on the WQS, guaranteeing him a top seeding slot for this year and won his maiden WQS event in March, the four star Hot Tuna Pro in Australia.
On his way to fifth place in the Maldives last week, Smith defeated two of the last three ASP world junior champions, first eliminating event top seed Adriano de Souza (Brazil, 2003) and then Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaii, 2005) before being beaten by Hawaiian Dustin Barca in the quarter-finals.
Greg Emslie (East London) and David Weare (Durban) were the next highest placed South Africans in the Maldives, reaching the last 48 in the event and finishing equal 25th. The SriLankan Airlines Pro was won by Brazilian Heitor Alves who defeated Jarrad Howse (Australia) in the final to pocket US $12,000 and 2500 ratings points.