Credit: © ASP / SCHOLTZ | Owen Wright (AUS)

High Drama as World’s Best Battle for Survival at Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay

four heats of Round 3 were completed

JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Friday, July 16, 2010) – South Africa’s premier pointbreak delivered once again with clean three-to-four foot (1.5 metre) surf roping along the shoreline as Round 2 and the opening four heats of Round 3 were completed at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.

The fourth stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay is seeing the development of two important storylines: 1) the intensifying of the 2010 ASP World Title race, and 2) cutthroat battle for survival amongst the lower seeds to remain amongst the world’s elite following the mid-year field reduction from the ASP Top 45 to 32 (plus two surfer wildcards).

Owen Wright (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 11, came into this season touted as one of the most dangerous surfers in the world, and his recent momentum is certainly qualifying the accolade. This evening saw the powerful goofy-footer explode in a fury of progressive backhand surfing in his Round 3 heat, collecting the round-high 17.00 out of a possible 20 and dispatching of Rip Curl stablemate Ben Dunn (AUS), 24.

“I’ve been feeling very comfortable out at Jeffreys,” Wright said. “I got here a week early and have been working the place out on boards and sections. It’s such a fun wave. I saw Ben’s heat in Round 2 and he was looking really good so I knew I would have to pull out something special. I didn’t feel nervous at all though, I went out and tried to maximize each wave I caught.”

After a slow start to the season, Wright posted an impressive Equal 3rd at the last event in Brazil which appears to have opened the proverbial flood gates. The young Australian is well within the mid-year qualifying cutoff, and appears to be campaign for a position amongst the ASP Top 10.

“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable as the season moves on,” Wright said. “I felt like I was surfing well in the first few events but had some bad luck. Things obviously went better for me in Brazil and I’m loving it here in J-Bay. Excited to see how things shape up for tomorrow.”

Wright will battle current No. 2 on the ASP World Title Race rankings, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, in Round 4 of competition.

Smith continued his juggernaut run through the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay today. The powerful natural-footer assaulted the walling righthanders with style, punch and bite this evening, netting a 15.07 out of a possible 20 to dispatch of California’s Nate Yeomans (USA), 28, in Round 3.

Adriano de Souza (BRA), 23, current ASP World No. 8, stumbled in his opening round heat, but after a late Round 2 victory yesterday, unleashed a barrage in his Round 3 heat this afternoon. The lightning-fast Brazilian appears completely in tune with his body and boards and boasted a forehand assault that netted him a 16.67 out of a possible 20 as he advanced through to Round 4.

“Every heat I feel like I am gaining more confidence in my abilities,” De Souza said. “I have really good boards right now and am just enjoying surfing excellent waves at Jeffreys Bay. I’m inside the Top 10 right now and I just want to keep pushing here and at the next events to the Top 5, the Top 3 and eventually a World Title.”

De Souza applied pressure early on in the bout, building momentum throughout before dispatching of Round 2 standout Jay Thompson (AUS), 27.

“Jay (Thompson) had a really good heat earlier today,” De Souza said. “I knew I had to take him seriously. I feel confident though. I was able to put up good scores to start and felt like I built momentum throughout the heat. I chose to run up the beach instead of paddle back up because I wanted to build the hunger inside me more and get excited for the rest of the heat. I know I can perform here and just want to show everyone.”

Despite his Round 3 elimination, Thompson set the Jeffreys Bay community alight this morning, utilizing his powerful frame to blast away at a solid set to the tune of an 8.83 out of a possible 10, before backing it up with the first Perfect 10 of the event. Thompson threaded through an impossible long barrel, exiting to the eruption of cheers on the beach before executing two vicious hacks on the end section.

“It’s funny to think back on what was going through my mind in that barrel,” Thompson said. “I was watching that Kelly Slater film, ‘Letting Go’, a few nights again and he’s talking about that layback barrel from a few years ago in Tahiti when he beat Bruce (Irons). I was thinking about that as I was in the barrel. I just had so many emotions going through my mind. I have a lot on my plate at this event and I had so much time to think while I was in there. When I came out, I could hear everyone on the beach just roaring, and I don’t usually claim waves but I had to on that one.”

Thompson finishes with an Equal 17th and will hunt a solid result in Tahiti if he is to remain amongst the world’s elite.

Adrian Buchan (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 13, was one to notice the effects of the mid-year cutoff firsthand today, battling a rampaging Travis Logie (ZAF), 31, in their Round 3 bout.

“You definitely see the urgency and intensity at this event,” Buchan said. “It was certainly the case today and even yesterday. Everyone on tour this season is so talented and the fact that there are only two more events means that everyone is fighting for survival. It’s a great thing for the spectators to watch and great for the event as well. It’s going to make things very interesting heading into Tahiti.”

Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 22, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie, survived a tightly-fought Round 2 battle today, overcoming the experience and forehand assault of Tom Whitaker (AUS), 30.

“It was a chess match out there,” Gudauskas said. “I think only four waves came through the whole time – I got two and Tommy (Whitaker) got two. I just happened to be on the fortunate side of the priority pendulum and the waves I got opened up a lot more.”

Currently rated No. 31 on the ASP World Title Race rankings, Gudauskas understands the necessity for a result at Jeffreys Bay, but focuses on the immediate in the heat of battle.

“I do my best to think about it but it’s always there,” Gudauskas said. “Everyone is here to win, and when you’re in Round 2, it’s hard to block that out of your mind. But you have to. I just focus on my next heat and my next wave, and when you’re in the lineup, everything just starts by looking down the stringer.”

Gudauskas will face Bede Durbidge (AUS), 27, in the opening heat of the day when competition resumes.

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.

Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, are calling for an increase in surf over the next 24 hours which could see the world’s best surfers back into some solid juice at Jeffreys Bay as early as tomorrow.

The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will begin on Friday, July 15 and run through July 25, 2010.

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 2 Results:

Heat 3: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.50 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.07

Heat 4: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.83 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.50

Heat 5: Tim Reyes (USA) 13.34 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.23

Heat 6: Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.86 def. Blake Thornton (AUS) 11.50

Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.04 def. Marco Polo (BRA) 11.30

Heat 8: Jay Thompson (AUS) 18.33 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.47

Heat 9: Neco Padaratz (BRA) 11.36 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 10.93

Heat 10: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 15.03 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 9.00

Heat 11: Brett Simpson (USA) 15.40 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.26

Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.83 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 11.37

Heat 13: Luke Stedman (AUS) 14.14 def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 12.93

Heat 14: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.60 def. Luke Munro (AUS) 12.00

Heat 15: Ben Dunn (AUS) 16.33 def. Pat Gudauskas (USA) 9.83

Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.84 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 9.03

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Round 3 Results:

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.67 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 9.27

Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.27 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 11.80

Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.00 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 10.74

Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.07 def. Nate Yeomans (USA) 9.10

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 3 Match-Ups:

Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Tanner Gudauskas (USA)

Heat 6: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)

Heat 7: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)

Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Sean Holmes (ZAF)

Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)

Heat 10: Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)

Heat 11: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Neco Padaratz (BRA)

Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)

Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)

Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)

Heat 15: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Heat 16: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)

Jeff Johannson

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