South African rookie Jordy Smith gave the local crowd what they came for when he posted the highest heat total of Round 2 to advance to Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay today.
Smith eliminated Brazil’s Neco Padaratz in three to five foot (one and half metre) waves courtesy of the 18.60 heat total he amassed – the second highest of the event thus far. He has drawn Dean Morrison (AUS) in Round 3.
“It’s good to get one nailed away and get the nerves out," Smith said. “Now I’m just stoked I didn’t get a 33rd and looking forward to the next round."
Smith scored a 9.00 on his first wave ridden. He sealed the deal with a 9.60 toward the end of the heat.
“I wanted to catch one early in the heat just to feel my board and feel my feet," Smith said. “The wave was a real nice peeling one and I ended up getting a 9.00. After that score I just realized that I needed to wait for a better one. Luckily I waited and I got it."
A 30-foot humpback whale was among the locals on hand to support Smith. The massive mammal surfaced just meters away from the surfers a handful of times – set waves rolled through right after each time.
“Hopefully the whale sticks around for a couple more of my heats," Smith said. “The set came and it was there so I’m hoping to see it again!"
Today’s elimination of higher-rated rookie Dane Reynolds (USA), leaves opportunity for Smith to close the gap in the ASP Rookie of the Year race. Reynolds is currently rated 16th, Smith 19th.
“Dane is a great surfer but I’m just trying to do my own thing really," Smith said. “It’s a bit unlucky that he lost earlier. I actually would have liked to see him get through."
Reynolds went down to Brazilian Heitor Alves in the second highest scoring heat of the day. Alves’16.66 trumped Reynolds 13.83, and sent him home with his first 33rd place result of the year.
“I’m so happy," Alves said. “To get two 8s in a heat? I can’t believe it. I feel comfortable here. I like this wave."
The second perfect 10 of the Billabong Pro JBay was earned by Bobby Martinez (USA) today. Martinez hasn’t scored a perfect 10 since Chile in 2006 – and event then, he didn’t win his heat. The deep barrel Martinez emerged from was clearly the wave of the day.
“It was a weird wave because I took off and couldn’t see – the sun was in my eyes," Martinez said. “I’m not even sure why I went for the barrel because I haven’t been barreled the whole trip but it just happened. I almost fell in there, I got off balance, but luckily I didn’t. I came out. I was lucky to get a wave out there period and then to get a wave like that… it came from someone I think."
Martinez’s Round 2 victory over wildcard Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) will see him draw Luke Munro in Round 3.
Andy Irons (HAW) also got the better of his wildcard opponent but was quick to disclose that the cold water has been an issue for him.
“You have to pick the right ones and that has been tough for me lately," Irons said. “I’ve been battling the cold badly. I went to Bali before this and I think that was a bad move because it’s hard to get motivated to get out there. I only surfed once before the contest and then only in heats ever since."
World No. 2 Joel Parkinson was the highest seeded surfer negotiating Round 2 today. He beat his traveling buddy in 1999 ASP World Champion and wildcard Mark Occhilupo (AUS) in the first heat of the day.
“We were both serious about it," Parkinson said. “We both wanted to win but Oc broke his fin on the way out and it kind of sent him into a frenzy there for a while. I was kind of laughing because, typical Occy, he had the full panic head on saying, ‘Oh, I’ll be right, I’ll be right,’ then he just grabbed some other kid’s board and surfed it. It was a good heat though."
Pancho Sullivan (HAW), who was unable to arrive in time to surf his Round 2 heat due to passport problems beyond his control, gave Ben Bourgeois (USA) a bye into a Round 3. Bourgeois will use that saved energy to take on reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) when competition resumes.