JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Tuesday, July 14, 2009) – High drama and excellent scores were the order of the day as rifling six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) surf poured through South Africa’s most iconic lineup for Rounds 2 and 3 of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.
Event No. 5 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay witnessed the ASP’s top seeds hit the water today, posting the highest scores of the event mixed in with some of the biggest upsets, all going down in what some are calling, “the best Jeffreys Bay ever.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion and four-time past winner of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (’96, ’03, ’05, ’08), put in an historic performance, netting four nine-point-plus rides in his Round 2 heat to collect the highest heat total of the event, an 18.84 out of a possible 20 (throwing away a 9.23 and a 9.00).
“It was just unbelievable,” Slater said. “The waves were just pumping. I couldn't get back out there fast enough. It just kept barreling. I went all the way down through tubes and doggy-doored to the end, must've gotten like 4 or 5 barrels on that thing. It was a pretty sick wave. I don't know what else I could've done on it. I surfed it as hard as I could. I'm pretty happy. I had a really good heat – that's the best heat I've had this year by a mile.”
Currently ranked 9th on the ASP World Tour ratings, Slater rebounded from three, consecutive 17ths to start the year with a win in Brazil last week before setting the bar today at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.
“I feel like the current leg we’re competing on is a strong one for me,” Slater said. “I went to Brazil without much motivation, but it turned out to be a good event for me. Now we’re here in Jeffreys where I feel really comfortable and the next events are ones I usually do well at. A lot of guys are surfing good though – Sean (Holmes), Joel (Parkinson), so we’ll take it one heat at a time.”
Michel Bourez (PYF), 23, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie, caused the upset of the event today, eliminating former ASP World Champion (2007) and two-time past winner of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (’02, ’06), Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, from competition in their Round 2 bout. The heat would prove one of the highest-scoring affairs of the event (18.27 – 17.17), with Bourez sealing the win with the event’s first Perfect 10-point ride.
“I was just feeling really good in the water,” Bourez said. “To surf that wave - perfect barrels, long rights - I was definitely ready for that. On my 10, I had just come back from my first wave and was so tired, but I saw that one coming and said that's the one. It was breaking on the sand, and I got three barrels on it. I was so stoked that I claimed it. I had to!”
Dane Reynolds (USA), 23, 2008 ASP World Tour Rookie of the Year and current ASP World No. 34, put in a sensational Round 2 performance, collecting the event’s second Perfect 10-point ride with some committed forehand hacks before a mind-blowing barrel, en route to eliminating current ASP World No. 8 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21.
“I kind of started off the heat sitting pretty far up the point,” Reynolds said. “Jordy (Smith) came out and paddled straight by me way up to the top of the point so I was like alright, I'll just try and get scraps off him. I think that no matter where I surf, anywhere, I like to stay wide; I like to see waves coming to me. Even when I'm free surfing, I never sit out the back and wait for sets. I'm always hunting insiders and a lot of the times it messes me up in heats. On that 10, I wasn't even sure if that was going to be a good wave. I had priority and got to the bottom and you could see it lining up for days – I knew it was going to be good from there.”
Following three, consecutive 33rd place finishes in the last three ASP World Tour events, media speculation was rampant that Reynolds, whom many consider one of the most exciting surfers on the planet, had lost the motivation to compete, but prodigious natural-footer offers his own opinion.
“Obviously no one wants to lose,” Reynolds said. “It was kind of funny because getting three 33rds actually made me want to compete again. I flew halfway around the world to be here and I went out there to win. It’s funny how it works out I guess, but winning out there in conditions like that, there’s no better feeling.”
Sean Holmes (ZAF), 31, Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay wildcard, continued his giant-slaying campaign today, first eliminating current ASP World No. 4 Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, before advancing through to the Quarterfinals over Michael Campbell (AUS), 35. With today’s eliminations of countrymen Smith and Greg Emslie (ZAF), 32, Holmes is now the sole South African remaining in competition.
"I'm always rooting for the guys on tour,” Holmes said. “This year, I really want Joel (Parkinson) to win the ASP World Title. I'll be really disappointed if he doesn't because he's deserved it for many years actually. I just go out there and surf. It's pointless if you go straight on the wave, I might as well do a few turns. To me, it's just really great to have the opportunity to get out there and surf against two other guys. Obviously for the home crowd, it's so awesome to get through the heat and give them something to cheer about. It's just good to be a surfer."
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 1 and former Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay winner (1999), wasted no time in asserting his dominance at Jeffreys Bay today, racking up some impressive Round 2 scores before claiming the event’s third Perfect 10-point ride for an impossibly long forehand barrel to defeat Kieren Perrow (AUS), 32, in Round 3.
“This is the best J-Bay I have ever surfed,” Parkinson said. “Whenever J-Bay pumps, it’s usually a pretty special day, but today was exceptional. Guys were getting 9s out there like it was nothing. You could get two 9s and still lose the heat. If you’re getting 10s though, you know you’ve got a good chance at advancing. I’ve surfed it at this size before, but never with this sand or as hollow as this.”
Parkinson will face current ASP World No. 6 Bobby Martinez (USA), 27, in the Quarterfinals of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay when competition resumes.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be today’s 10-point raiders Bourez and Reynolds going head-to-head in Heat 5 of Round 3.
Highlights from today’s Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will be available at www.billabongpro.com
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 3: Dean Morrison (AUS) 13.83 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.33
Heat 4: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.50 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.43
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.83 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 7.50
Heat 6: Ben Dunn (AUS) 15.73 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 5.20
Heat 7: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.10 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 10.87
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.90 def. Heath Joske (AUS) 7.83
Heat 9: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 18.60 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.33
Heat 10: Mick Campbell (AUS) 13.50 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 11.17
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 18.27 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.17
Heat 12: Dane Reynolds (USA) 17.83 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.90
Heat 13: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.84 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 9.34
Heat 14: Taylor Knox (USA) 16.43 def. Chris Ward (USA) 12.66
Heat 15: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.50 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 16.00
Heat 16: Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.83 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.00
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) 14.60 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.17
Heat 2: Dean Morrison (AUS) 17.63 def. Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.57
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.00 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.50
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.50 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.33
Heat 5: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 15.50. Michael Campbell (AUS) 13.57
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 6: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 8: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)