ASP World Tour rookie Jordy Smith (ZAF) put the world’s best surfers on notice when he made the semi-finals of the 2006 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay as an 18-year-old wildcard.
Halfway through his first year as a member of the ASP Top 45, the young South African has yet to match or beat that equal 3rd result. He will head into the July 10-20, 2008 Billabong Pro waiting period hoping to change that.
“I can’t wait for JBay,” Smith said. “I’ve only ever surfed in one event there but I went there at age 7 for the first time and I love the wave. It’s probably the best wave for me on tour so I’m just hoping to get a good result.”
Smith is currently rated World No. 19 after finishing 9th on the Gold Coast of Australia, 33rd in Bells Beach and 17th in Tahiti and Fiji. A former ASP World Junior Champion who finished 1st on the 2007 ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), Smith has yet to enjoy paralleled success at surfing’s highest level, the ASP World Tour.
“I have definitely made a lot of rookie mistakes, but that stuff I think will come in time,” Smith said. “Still, it’s been pretty cool traveling for the first time with some of your heroes that you looked up to growing up as a kid.”
Smith will meet current ASP World No. 3 Adriano de Souza (BRA) and fellow South African Travis Logie in Heat 3 of Round 1.
The main event will be preceded by the VonZipper Wildcard Trials which will pit eight of South Africa’s rising stars against four international surfers in three heats The winner of each heat will earn a wildcard into the main event and the opportunity to test their skills against the world’s best surfers.
The South African trialists include WQS campaigners Warwick Wright (Durban) and Damien Fahrenfort , freesurfer and J-Bay local Shaun Payne and Pro Junior surfers Rudy Palmboom Jr., Klee Strachan, Chad du Toit, Shaun Joubert and Dale Staples.
The international trialists include 1984 JBay champion and 1999 ASP World Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS), Tahiti’s Tamaroa McComb and Brazil’s Peterson Crisanto. The fourth trialist is yet to be named.