The Hot Tuna Central Coast Pro, an ASP 4-Star Mens WQS Event, took place at Soldiers Beach, NSW, Australia from 19 – 25 March 2007.
Reining Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) world junior champion Jordy Smith stormed the surf at Soldiers Beach this weekend to become the 2007 Hot Tuna Central Coast Pro champion. The South African scraped past Brazilian Neco Padaratz by less than a point to post his maiden victory in a World Qualifying Series contest.
The 19-year-old surfed through five different heats in wild and windswept conditions. He said the win is his most significant achievement since he won the world junior championship in January and came second to Joel Parkinson at the World Cup of Surfing at Hawaii’s Sunset Beach last December.
“This is a really big win for me here today. I am looking to qualify for the World Tour for 2008 so this is a great boost for my confidence and ambitions,” he said. “It was pretty wild out there but we get lots of waves like that back home so it was fine. I like the bigger stuff,” he said.
Smith, whose parents Graham and Luellen were watching their son surf via the internet at their home in Umbilo in Durban , immediately paid tribute to his Mum and Dad for their belief and support. Brazilian Padaratz, who posted the day’s second highest wave score (9.33) in the round of 16, had nothing but praise for the young man who edged him out from standing alone on the winner’s podium.
“Jordy has grown up so quickly and his body is just very powerful. He can paddle so quickly. I am very happy for him to get this win because we are friends anyway,” Padaratz said.
Durban-raised Smith started his blasting performances at this contest with the big names from the ASP World Tour in the round of 64. His win here saw Smith take the weekend double. Smith also won the Tooheys Dry Expression Session to clearly demonstrate he is capable of high performance, futuristic surfing and today he demonstrated he has the ability to transfer thoise skills to the game where the best two scores count.
The six-foot-two inch Smith is widely regarded by astute observers as South Africa’s best hope for a world title since 1977, when Shaun Tomson became the only man from that country to ever don the elite crown. Smith overcame rolling mountains of whitewater that moved in from the horizon and bludgeoned unfortunately positioned surfers throughout the day’s finals. His duckdiving and ability to emerge from the foam gave him a distinct advantage.
Many surfers contesting the heats became victims of the most intense hold downs yet seen on the Australian leg of the 2007 professional tour. Rhys Bombaci from Kiama on the New South Wales (NSW) south coast and France’s Tim Boal and were the other finalists and took third and fourth positions respectively.
The predicted southerly that blew along the NSW coast generated a storm swell that greeted early morning arrivals with two to three metre waves that were predominantly right handers. Releasing its ferocious blow not long after dark, the storm blew the contest site apart and only quick action by the onsite crew ensured minimal damage to temporary structures erected for the contest.
Less than 12 hours earlier, the ocean had resembled an inland lake and had forced organisers to abandon the heats scheduled for the Hot Tuna Pro on Saturday. Event Director Peter Hunt from Surfing NSW said the variety of conditions experienced during the contest provided a real test of a surfer’s versatility.
“Surfers at this level of ability much prefer big stormy waves like those we had today rather than the ankle tappers that caused us to delay proceedings yesterday afternoon “The Hot Tuna Central Coast Pro has been highlighted by consistent surf, great weather and fantastic surfing,” Mr Hunt said.
“The local businesses and local people have been terrific with their support of the event and we will immediately start working with our partners to be back here again in 2008.” The whole box and dice of professional surfing now moves more than 4000 kilometres across the continent to the powerful Indian Ocean swells that light up Margaret River . That contest, the 6 Star WQS Drug Aware Pro, gets underway almost immediately.
The Australian leg of the professional surfing tour will conclude after the remaining contest is held at Bells Beach in Victoria.
Final scoreboard of The Hot Tuna Central Coast Pro:
- Jordy Smith (South Africa ) 14.20
- Neco Padaratz (Brazil ) 13.27
- Rhys Bombaci (Australia ) 12.00
- Tim Boal (France ) 8.34