2004 BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY: DAY FOUR

posted by / News / July 17, 2004

Surf: 3-5 feet surf, relatively inconsistent, variable winds; cleaning and picking up in the afternoon.
Event Held: Billabong Pro J-Bay
Nature’s Call:Forget about the hype, I make the rules around here.
Forecast: Swell moderating tomorrow and looking relatively bleak for the next week.

As the sun burnt its way from red to gold over the bay, illuminating the shifty Supertubes waves with a sparkling backlight that had the photographers spilling coffee on their equipment, round three kicked off with a bang. In the first heat of the day, Luke Hitchings set off a chain of American defeats by overcoming Damien Hobgood. In the second, Aussie Jake Paterson triumphed in a see-saw humdinger with Hawaiian goofy-footer, Kalani Robb, clinching the heat with a smoker right on the siren.

‘Yeah, it’s a game of chess out there. All about who’s got the patience out there and who gets the good waves. I was lucky to get through,’ said an elated Paterson. ‘But I’m still in the fight so I’m stoked. Kalani needed a 3.5 and I knew I couldn’t hold him off one of those little waves. That’s when you lose your heat when you start going for the smaller scores. If he had waited he probably would have gotten one of the sets I got and would have won, but I had my strategy and it paid off. I love coming here,’ Beemed The Snake in the glow of victory, ‘all the people know who I am, all the grommets are like “Jake the Snake!” So it’s pretty special, it’s great to be recognised around town. It’s like a home away from home.’

Next up Cory Lopez and Lee Winkler went down to the wire in another see-saw battle, with a flurry of waves at the end of the heat. It took the judges a while to figure out that Winkler had indeed won it and the run of rotten Seppo luck continued. The next heat saw Shane Beschen up against a favourite son of J-Bay, Mark Occhilupo. And once again it was team Aussie that came out on top.

‘My 6s, I thought were at least 7.5s.’ Said a disgusted Beschen as he walked up the boardwalk. ‘I’ll have to watch myself on video and check it out.’

‘Yeah, I was patient and waited for the 9.’ said Occy. ‘I thought it was going to be harder to get the 3 I needed after. I was just waiting for a wave and I kind of freaked out and took a little one and got the score, then a set came… Luckily Shane didn’t get a good wave out of it, but I thought he would, it was a scary heat, that’s what I am trying to say.’

And then, all too soon, came the heat we had all been waiting for, local hero Sean Holmes up against American numero uno, big cheese and world champion Andy Irons, for their third year in a row, third round grudge match. Sean opened it up with a series of small waves before posting a respectable 7 point ride. Andy answered back with a negligable wave, before Sean scored an 8.3 on a smoker, that was, to most of the crowd, harshly underscored. Andy stroked into the wave behind, did a nice jam on his first turn and got slowed down a bit on the second, depositing him at the bottom of the wave for a critical barrel section, which he made and then went down. His score came up a 9.93, the crowd hissed their dissappointment at the judging panel. Local hero Holmsie needed a 7.61 to save it and with two minutes to run caught a set wave and carved it thrice and pulled into a barrel, then a floater to seal it off. But alas it was not to the judges liking and he only scored a 7. Frothing and disgust from the Supertubes crowd. Andy boosted a huge air with delight and whooped up the beach. The world champ had finally slipped one over the local hero.

‘It’s been a huge monkey on my back the last couple of years,’ said the reigning world champ. ‘Sean’s an awesome competitor. He surfs one contest a year and he’s got the thickest skin, he knows how to sit and wait for the good waves. I finally got him, he’s got me two years in a row. Hopefully he retires this year and I don’t have to deal with him next year. I even went bungee jumping yesterday just to take the edge off, it didn’t really work, I was still pretty nervous. I’m just really glad it’s over.’

Seano was magnanimous in what was a controversial defeat. ‘Ja, it’s always fun to surf Supertubes with only two guys in the water. The heat was difficult especially against the world champion, but I just want to say thanks to everybody on the beach, it’s great to hear them from the water, even though they made me nervous on every turn hearing everybody scream. Thanks for all the support. It’s not going to be easy for Andy, the wave always allows everybody to perform at their best, but he’s a great surfer, his results will show it. Hopefully he can win the event and make me feel a bit better.’

Boo hoo, sobbed the local Supers groupies. ‘Wha’ do you care?’ Said Alejandro the Uruguayan film maker, ‘Ees jus’ a contess. You prolly more cut up than Sean.’

Perry Hatchett, the international ASP head judge put this spin on it. ‘We’re looking for radical, controlled manouvers in the critical section, I guess the degree of difficulty and the commitment are the two major factors that go down. It’s not really the length of ride or the amount of manouvers. It’s where they’re placed in the critical section and how radical they really are.’

Speaking about Andy and Sean’s heat he said, ‘I think it was actually a closer heat than what it ended up. Andy’s best wave was a 9.93 and personally I don’t think it was the best wave of the contest. I’ve seen better waves. I think the waves should have been a bit closer, within a point of each other. A few judges dropped tens and it went to a point and a half spread. And I actually commented to them that the wave had a bit more to allow at the end, to finish it correctly, it can’t be a perfect wave to drop a 10 point ride on. At the end where Sean was chasing a 7.61, I think the 7 wasn’t a bad score, but he should have needed less. To me there was only 0.1 or 0.2 in the heat, to be honest. I thought the 7 was good, but to me he shouldn’t have been chasing a 7.61, I think the heat should have been much closer, within half a point. I commented to them at the end, as soon as the heat finished, that I thought the result was correct, very close, I could see it nearly going either way but just on the scoring side of things, I didn’t agree with the 10s, I commented on how much was left in the wave and the wave should never have gone more than 9.5, and that I’ve seen two or three waves in this event that I liked better than that wave…’

Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Hatchett reckons Irons won it anyway, by a millimeter or a mile is neither here nor there. Luckily Slater stormed into the next heat to cheer up the miffness that was lingering in the crowd. He outclassed the exciting wildcard Bede Durbidge with his trademark whitewater climbs and insanely long, section demolishing floaters, although Bede started to pull some very progressive moves out of the bag.

‘I think he got a little frustrated cos the waves he was getting were smaller ones.’ said Slater afterwards. ‘I think he was thinking he had to bust a big air early on a wave and ride it through. He’s pretty good at those things, I was waiting for him to bust one out and make it down the line. He could have got a big score.’

Not letting last year’s J-Bay win get to his head, the Slater machine’s attention is firmly trained on this year’s proceedings. ‘The board feels solid under my feet, I can’t think too much about last year, that was just something that happened. And it was an amazing time, but I still got four heats in this contest that I want to try and win. So let’s see what happens and focus on that now.’

As the sun carved long shadows behind the contest tower and the sets kicked in with the tide, Nathan Hedge destroyed Troy Brooks while Aussie veteran Shane Powell relegated the other Hobgood, {{{CJ}}}, to the long flight home, in the last minute. And just when the Saffa crowd were starting to moan and make meaningful glances towards the bars on J-Bay’s main drag, Greg ‘Big Foot’ Emslie slipped into the water with Taj Burrow for the penultimate heat. The Foot as he is affectionately known to everyone here, surfed like man possessed, picking off his waves like an assassin and massacring them like a samurai. Taj came back and needed a 7+ ride on the last set of the heat, he gave it everything but the wave wasn’t big enough. And so The Foot pushes through to the fourth round, keeping the crowd’s spirits alive, while Taj slaps the water in disgust .

With Supers growing darker, knackered, sunburnt spectators trudged back to their cars. The lights from the fishing boats twinkled on the horizon and somebody let one rip. Another weird night in J-Bay for sure. Check you all later when Neptune delivers round four. Andy Davis

Billabong Pro Round Three Heats (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
{{{H1}}}: Luke Hitchings (AUS) 13.0 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.1
{{{H2}}}: Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.47 def. Kalani Robb (HAW) 11.83
{{{H3}}}: Lee Winkler (AUS) 16.0 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 15.17
H4: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 14.84 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 12.67
H5: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.16 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.{{{57}}}
H6: Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.34 def. Nathan Webster (AUS) 10.77
H7: Richie Lovett (AUS) 16.07 def. Phil MacDonald (AUS) 14.93
H8: Andy Irons (HAW) 16.1 def. Sean Holmes (ZAF) 15.5
H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.6 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.83
H10: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 14.0 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 13.16
H11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.73 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.06
H12: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 15.1 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 14.0
H13: Shane Powell (AUS) 15.5 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 15.5
H14: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 16.4 def. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 13.5
H15: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.67 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.0
H16: Toby Martin (AUS) 12.33 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 11.5

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