SURF: 6 to 8 feet
EVENTS HELD: Round two completed, rounds three heats 1-16.
NATURES CALL: Big, bordering on wild.
PREDICTED: More cut feet. There are a few surfers, and cameramen, who haven’t worked out the fine art of returning to the beach after a heat. The bigger it gets, the more the blood flows.
If you’ve ever been traveled to this corner of the world, you’ll know that classic architecture isn’t one of the defining features of Jeffreys Bay. This morning Supertubes closely resembled many of the holiday houses that speckle the hill — large and ugly.
Reports from Seal Point was that the exposed wildside was 10-15 foot. The swell had moved into the bay here as well, but it was still raw and verging on out of control. J-Bay’s a funny place though. Even on a “B” day here, there’s still a few diamonds in the rough. Today was one of those days. Lots of bad ones, and then the occasional gem.
The Slater/Winkler heat that kicked the morning off was the best bout of the contest to date. Slater went with a risky strategy, sitting right in the impact zone. The larger sets were pushing through at least 10 meters wide of his position, but those bigger ones generally had no angle on the face. The waves that hugged tighter against the reef offered the square walls that Slater was after. It was a gamble, because the strategy meant the six-time world champ would spend much of his heat ducking under enormous foamies and paddling though thick, turbulent soup.
Winkler meanwhile opted to start his heat around the corner. Almost at Boneyards. His first wave of consequence was a muscle-burning 400 metre sprint from Boneyards, through Supers, over the Impossibles shelf and into Tubes. A huge, feathering beast with Winkler kicking up massive chunks of water for a 9.0.
Slater’s retort was short and lethal. Two enormous direction changes followed by a turn that looked like a mutation of a kiteboarding move. He probably had to scrape the wax from under his toenails the way he clung on, still jamming the tail as he slid. His recovery was as spectacular as the move: 9.5!
Then the moment everyone had been waiting for. Again, sitting dangerously deep in the impact zone, Slater dropped in behind the peak and held his line through a dark, draining super-tube. The collective gasp of the crowd (okay the crowd never really gasped) was replaced by cheers and whistles as he sailed out the mouth, weaved through to Impossibles and stood up to another siphoning barrel. Finally a 10-point ride, and the third best heat total of the year. It was a tough loss for Winkler. It’s not often you open with a 9 and still get comboed.
The top end of the draw was loaded with J-Bay specialists and (all four) world champions. In heat 2 Mark Occhilupo was in vintage form against a hopelessly undergunned Trent Munro, to set up a classic R4 clash against Slats. Kieren Perrow, no stranger to big waves, quietly got on with the business of winning heats, as he’s done all year. . A 9pt tube ride took KP1s win/lose ratio over Beau Emerton to 6/1. But the true clash was yet to come: SA’s humble homeboy Sean Holmes against 2002 world champion Andy Irons.