Billabong Pro, Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa (Saturday July 17th, 2010): Former nine- t ime ASP Men’s World Surfing Champion, Kelly Slater (Fl, USA), has suffered a set-back in his quest for an historic tenth world title after being eliminated by local wildcard Sean Holmes (ZAF) in Round 3 of the Billabong Pro underway at Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa.
Slater was dazzling in the opening rounds, but against Holmes in the building two-metre waves at “Supertubes”, the former four-time Billabong Pro, J’Bay champion struggled to find decent rhythm.
Slater allowed Holmes to take the first wave of their 30 minute clash, gifting the local an early lead, but then fell on his next two rides.
Slater rallied in the later stages of the heat, and with 90 seconds remaining in the the clash, both Holmes and Slater locked were on their feet. But at the final siren, Holmes got the nod over the number 1 seeded American, the judges awarding him the win by the slimmest of margins – 13.10 to 13.06
(out of a possible 20 points each).
Slater’s early exit from the Billabong Pro will force him to fight back at the next event in Tahiti in August (The Billabong Pro, Tahiti, August 23 - Sept 3) if he is to regain his Number 1 ranking.
Meanwhile, Holmes’s victory set up a Round 4 clash versus another of surfing’s biggest names, Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) of Hawaii.
Holmes boasts a 3-1 win record over the Hawaiian in the Billabong Pro and by late afternoon, he stretched that to four.
Irons looked sharp and was eyeing a solid result in South Africa to ensure his place in the elite top 32, but Holmes had other ideas, again picking the best of the Jeffreys Bay waves get the better of the Hawaiian 15.60 points to 15.17 – and move through to the quarter-finals.
Holmes’s reputation at Supertubes is infamous. In Round 2 yesterday the 33 year-old accounted for the winner of the last ASP World Tour event in Brazil, Jadson Andre (BRZ), and as a wildcard in the same event in 2009, Holmes surfed his way to the quarter-finals and a respectable 5th place finish.
Local Jordy Smith (ZAF) snared the world number 1 rating today with his impressive performance versus Australian Owen Wright (AUS).
Smith was simply electric in the clean, two-metre conditions and with friends and family cheering him on, the 22 year-old never looked like faltering.
Wright had been a standout in the early rounds, yet despite some critical surfing, the rookie could simply not much Smith’s two best scoring rides of 8.60 and a near-perfect 9.27.
Smith eliminated Wright on a two-wave combined heat total of 17.87 to 15.83 and will now face off against the last remaining Brazilian in the tournament, Adriano De Souza (BRZ) in the quarter-finals.
De Souza has already equalled his best-ever performance at Jeffrey’s Bay, where he has reached the quarter-finals an amazing four times, and going by current form, the Brazilian’s match-up versus Smith is set to be a scorcher.
Frenchman Joan Duru (Ondres, FRA) saw his campaign in the Billabong Pro, J’Bay come to an end in Round 3 against former event champion Billabong's Taj Burrow (AUS) of Australia.
Duru was always going to struggle against Burrow, who opened with a good scoring wave, then backed it up immediately with an excellent 8.93.
Burrow is the current world number 3 and revels in any conditions at Jeffrey’s Bay. He won at the venue in 2007 and looks to be in incredible form heading into the business end of the draw.
Twenty year-old Duru could not find what he needed today against Burrow, however, and was eliminated on 10.64 points to Burrow’s 13.93.
Joan Duru, who has just recovered from a month’s rehabilitation for an injured knee, earned his place in the $400,000 tournament (USD) when another injured surfer, Kai Otton (AUS) of Australia, withdrew.
Duru, bowed out of the Billabong Pro, J’Bay in 17th place and his hopes for a start in the next event scheduled for Tahiti in August, rest in a similar fate.
Competition is hoped to resume tomorrow, Sunday July 18th, with quarter-final action.
Organisers will make a call on proceedings at 07:00 (Europe time).
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 3 Results:
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.33 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 8.50
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.80 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 3.97
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.33 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 9.43
Heat 8: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.10 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.06
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.93 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.64
Heat 10: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.60 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 13.80
Heat 11: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.23 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 12.50
Heat 12: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.63 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.06
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.23 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 13.10
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.63 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.40
Heat 15: Adam Melling (AUS) 16.06 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 8.00
Heat 16: Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.33 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.20
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.63 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.44
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.87 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.83
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.53 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.90
Heat 4: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 15.60 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 15.17
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.87 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.00
Heat 6: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.93 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 13.20
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.00
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Remaining Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Sean Holmes (ZAF)
QF 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
QF 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. TBD