EVENTS HELD: Round one completed, and heats 1-5 of round two.
NATURES CALL: If you’d asked me for a prediction yesterday afternoon, I would have told everyone to sleep in this morning. But it pulsed again overnight and Supers was 4t this morning. The NW devil wind pushed an ugly chop into the guts of Supers for handful of heats, but for most of the day the wave face was clean and green.
Forecast: Some trips to the lion park.
This morning, we woke from a deep sleep and rose straight into a a reporter’s dream: another crazy twist in the Billabong 2003 story. This one involved Sean Holmes, the hometown favorite and one of the finest surfers ever to grace Supertubes. Having being unceremoniously booted out the event yesterday after a dismal VZ trials heat, Holmes made his way back home, three hours down the coast.
At first light he got the call. Kalani Robb had fallen ill and had withdrawn from the event. Holmes was back in as the next advancing trialist.
True to the script, Sean got off to a snorter in the rescheduled Round One encounter, tapping into the wave’s energy and converting it into huge carving turns and several deep tubes in the half-hour heat. Holmes all but comboed his two opponents (second placed Danilo Costa required an unlikely 9.99 by the siren.)
The South African natural footer, carrying no WCT or WQS ranking, was now set to draw the highest ranked surfer in round three, which would be the incumbent world champion, provided the champ could fight his way out of Round Two.
Andy Irons has been unimpressive at J-Bay the last few years. He hasn’t advanced beyond R3 since 1999, and put on a decidedly dull show yesterday. But he eventually found the sweet spot. In a match-up of ASP Men’s Champion versus ISA Junior Champion, Andy obliterated local wildcard Warwick Wright. The Irons/Holmes bout is sure to be a classic rematch of last year’s clash. Watch this space.
The other Round One heat to bring the crowd alive was the Lopez (Shea) / Davo / Padaratz (Favo) encounter. Shea Lopez is the veritable goofyfoot tubemaster of here. Two years ago he got what long-time Supertubes local Brad Bricknell described as the deepest backhand barrel he’s ever seen. This year he was back in the slot again, exiting one great tube with his fins literally scraping the rocks. Davo was solid with four waves in the 6-8pt range.
Padaratz could have sealed the heat in the first five minutes, picking up a bomb with clear 10-scoring potential. He wound off several heavy-duty turns, but missed two dead-obvious tube opportunities. On his next six waves he bogged rail on just about every turn, looking like a WQS novice rather than one of the most senior members of the WCT that he his. The goofy foot redeemed himself in the best possible way, catching a flawless set on the red flag and going upside down seven, eight, maybe nine times all the way past Impossibles. “I prayed for that wave,” he said afterwards from Andrew Carter’s balcony overlooking the break, “and I prayed I wouldn’t fall off!”
He didn’t, and the wave scored a 9.5. As Lopez and Davo licked their wounds, Supers was oiled and running — and ready for Round 2.